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Despite losing Andrea Lee as UFC 216 opponent, Kalindra Faria promises 'performance worthy of a main card’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Brazilian flyweight Kalindra Faria.

The Titan FC bantamweight champion was offered a fight with Invicta FC star Andrea Lee at UFC 216. Faria accepted it without hesitating, even though the bout was only 10 days away. Faria was thrilled, she couldn’t even sleep that night, but had no time to even celebrate with family and friends — she had to pack her bags and catch a flight to Las Vegas the next day.

Hours after the fight was booked, though, Faria was informed that Lee was no longer allowed to step into the Octagon with her on Oct. 7. Mara Romero Borella, another fighter from the Invicta FC roster, would be her new opponent. Faria, excited to finally be able to call herself a UFC fighter, can’t wait to compete.

"I’m finally here,” Faria told MMA Fighting. "Many people asked me for a long time why I wasn’t in the UFC yet, and I was tired of talking about it. I also didn’t know why I wasn’t here, but my time has finally come.”

Faria has competed from strawweight to bantamweight since her MMA debut in 2009, and all of her losses came against high-level athletes like Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Aguilar. She will be competing at 125 pounds now, and expects it to affect her performance.

"I promise you a great fight,” Faria said. "You can be sure that I will win more fans after this fight. I fought in Florida before and fans over there loved it. This time I’m fighting in a division where I feel better. I felt too weak and didn’t perform the same way at 115, but I will be stronger and more aggressive now. It will be a performance worthy of a main card."

Faria was getting a slot on the main card thanks to “KGB" Lee, a popular fighter in the United States, but the promotion decided to keep her on the pay-per-view portion against Borella.

"I was expecting to fight on the prelims, (Jorge Patino) ’Macaco’ told me I was going to be the first fight of the night, but I found out on Tuesday that I’m on the main card.” Faria said. “I was surprised, anxious. I don’t believe I’m here, making my debut on a week’s notice on a main card in Las Vegas. Man… wow.

"I worked hard for this opportunity, and it’s my time now. It’s an extra pressure, a responsibility to represent not only my city but my whole country. I can’t say it’s easy, but I’m really happy and grateful. Everything I’ve been through was worth it."

The Brazilian flyweight hasn’t fought in 13 months, thanks to Titan FC not giving her any opponents to challenge her for the 135-pound title, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t training in her hometown of Taubate, Sao Paulo.

"I was always training because I live right next to the gym and I can’t stop training,” she said. "My husband is my coach, so I never stopped sparring and training. I stayed in shape because an opportunity could come at any moment, even at Titan.”

Getting a new opponent on short notice usually means hours of studies to change your gameplan, but the change ahead of UFC 216 didn’t mean much since Faria also took the bout on days’ notice.

"It changes a little bit because Andrea was a little tougher than Mara, but Mara is not an easy fight by any means,” Faria said. "She just fought in July and is coming off three wins just like me, we have the same age… A fight is a fight and I believe she’s ready. The only thing that changes if the hair color — I was fighting a blonde, and now I’m fighting a brunette."