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Claudia Gadelha stopped cutting up to 33 pounds to fight better, win UFC gold

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

CURITIBA -- Claudia Gadelha will try to become the UFC strawweight champion on July 8, and she has changed a few things before her rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

The Brazilian fighter missed the opportunity to be on the Ultimate Fighter season that crowned the first UFC 115-pound champion because she wouldn’t be able to cut weight several times in a short period of time, and has now decided to change the way she controls her weight.

"I don’t cut much weight anymore," Gadelha said during a recent media scrum in Brazil. "I learned that by losing much weight, I also lose performance inside the Octagon, so I’m staying lighter now. I learned to eat better, so I live on a diet now. I don’t go out of my diet a day now, not even on the weekends, because I have to be around 126 pounds to cut 13 or 15 pounds before the fight. No more cutting 22, 33 pounds for me.

"I think it’s already tough for a male athlete, and it’s even worse for a female athlete. It’s bad for your performance on fight night, so I’m living on a diet so it doesn’t become an issue n the future."

Gadelha suffered her only MMA loss to Jedrzejczyk in December of 2012, and their rivalry convinced the UFC to select them as coaches for TUF 23. The Nova Uniao fighter, who enters the title fight coming off a UFC 190 win over Jessica Aguilar, feels she’s a better fighter now.

"I always felt like a MMA fighter, I don’t feel like a jiu-jitsu fighter fighting MMA, but I think I’m more experienced today," "Claudinha" said. "I became an experienced fighter, focusing more on being a MMA fighter, a well-rounded fighter. I tried to evolve my striking, training more boxing and kickboxing, and for sure that’s going to be the difference in this fight."

"I’m aggressive too. I’m a warrior," she continued. "When I get into a fight, I give everything I have inside the Octagon. I think the difference now will be my experience and the strategy we have now. I trained hard on a strategy to fight inside the Octagon."

Gadelha and Jedrzejczyk came close to fighting inside the TUF gym in Las Vegas, and the Brazilian admits that it was tough to control her desire to punch the UFC champion during the reality show.

"Actually, I wanted to punch her in her face several times, but I took a deep breath and saw that it’s our job, we have to sell the fight, but I don’t think you have to get to a point to disrespect," Gadelha said. "I grew up inside the gym with a martial art philosophy, respecting the mat, my coaches, my teammates and my opponents, and Joanna is the opposite. She disrespects everyone. When she started disrespecting my coaches, I felt really offended, but I took a deep breath and said ‘okay, let’s move on’. I’ll walk through this as another obstacle to get inside the Octagon and do my job."