Third time’s the charm for Talita Nogueira.
The multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion was scheduled to make her Bellator debut twice already, but was yanked from fights with Julia Budd and Marloes Coenen after injuring her knee and missing weight, respectively. Now booked to meet Amanda Bell at Friday’s Bellator 182 in Verona, NY, “Treta” wants to finally step inside the cage.
"I tore a ligament and then I had personal issues and didn’t make weight, but this time everything went perfect,” Nogueira told MMA Fighting. "My camp was great, and I will make weight. This debut became a matter of honor for me.”
Despite her setbacks, Nogueira — who lost her mother a couple of months before her planned Bellator 163 bout with Coenen in November — hasn’t stopped competing.
"I haven’t fought in MMA, but I’m competing every month in jiu-jitsu,” said Nogueira, who won the ADCC trials in Brazil and will compete in September in Finland. "There’s no ring rust, I was competing by in other martial arts. I had to cut weight, I had to fight, so it was just fine."
Not everything has gone smoothly for Bellator 182 though, as Nogueira’s original opponent, Gabrielle Holloway, was replaced by Bell due to injury.
In the end, "Treta" says, the change was for the best, as Bell defeated Holloway earlier this year at KOTC.
"That didn’t affect me because it’s no secret where I come from,” Nogueira said. "We’re always ready to face whoever is in there and to do my game, not theirs. I always train expecting my opponent to avoid going to the ground with me, so I have to do my thing in there. It’s all good. I saw that she’s very aggressive. I have to be careful, keep my hands up, and do my game. It’s a good fight for me. I’m cool."
With a perfect 6-0 record in the sport, Nogueira also hopes to have a busy end of the year. After battling for the gold ADCC medal just weeks after Bellator 182, she aims to get a quick turnaround to the cage, especially if the opponent is Bellator featherweight champion Julia Budd.
"I’m focused on this fight right now,” Nogueira said. "Whatever happens next, I don’t know, but I don’t want to stay away too long. I want to fight again as soon as possible. If it’s for the belt or not, I don’t know. I was going to fight Julia before and she has the belt now, so that would be a good fight. Whatever they decide for me, that’s great."