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Poliana Botelho seeks another impressive finish against Cynthia Calvillo at UFC Argentina

Poliana Botelho won a pair of fights since joining the UFC.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Fresh off the biggest victory of her MMA career, Poliana Botelho has a key test ahead of her at UFC Argentina.

A former champion in her native country of Brazil, Botelho entered the Octagon for the first time in October 2017, but her the fight didn’t go as planned. She was victorious against Pearl Gonzalez, but couldn’t showcase her striking skills as she intended.

Seven months later, everything’s changed.

The Nova Uniao product met previously unbeaten Syuri Kondo at UFC Chile in May, and it only took her 33 seconds to use her dangerous kicks to finish the contest.

“I wasn’t expecting to beat Syuri that way because she’s a very tough opponent, undefeated, so I expected a three-round brawl, a war,” Botelho told MMA Fighting, “but I trained that kick over and over again and it landed on the right stop, so I just went there and finished it.”

Such an impressive finish was perfect to finally introduce her to the masses, Botelho said, “because that fight with Pearl was too stuck against the cage, she didn’t want to fight me and was pressuring me the whole time, so it was a boring fight to watch. Nothing was happening, she didn’t want to fight, but that fight with [Kondo] I was able to impose my game, I’m a knockout artist, and it was excellent.”

The rising talent from Brazil now has a chance to meet another prospect in the division at Saturday’s Fight Night event in Buenos Aires. Cynthia Calvillo, 6-1 as a professional and 3-1 under the UFC banner, is looking to bounce back from a decision defeat to former champion Carla Esparza almost a year ago.

For Botelho, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a name for herself against a popular contender, even though she doesn’t expect Calvillo to stand and bang with her.

“Cynthia is a great, tough opponent, and our styles are the exact opposite,” Botelho said. “Cynthia is great in the jiu-jitsu area and I’m great on the feet.”

Botelho built her entire pre-UFC career as a flyweight in Brazil, but the women’s 125-pound division had yet to be created when she was signed by the company. Years later, with a 2-0 record as a strawweight, she has no plans on moving back up.

About to face someone who was once ranked in the top 15 of the division, Botelho says that cracking the top of the division at this point of her career is not what she really cares about.

“If it puts me in the ranking or not doesn’t really matter to me, you know?” Botelho said. “What matters is winning well and getting my hands raised. That’s what matters. The ranking, if I will be ranked right now or not, I’ll just keep fighting until I get there.

“I don’t plan on fighting for a belt anytime soon, I just signed with the UFC. Of course, if they give me an opportunity, OK, but we have to think about it slowly. That’s who I am, step by step. No rush. Step by step, I’ll get more experience. Showcasing my entire game in there matters the most to me right now.”

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