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Invicta FC title challenger Virna Jandiroba will be ‘one step closer’ to the UFC with win over Mizuki Inoue

Virna Jandiroba expects a tough fight with Mizuki Inoue at Invicta FC 28.
Dave Mandel, Invicta FC

Virna Jandiroba will attempt to win her first MMA title outside of Brazil when she faces Mizuki Inoue for the vacant strawweight belt at Invicta FC 28 in Salt Lake City on March 24, and capturing the gold would have a huge meaning for her.

Jandiroba has campaigned for a deal with the UFC for years, calling out UFC president Dana White in every single one of her post-fight interviews in Brazil, but a contract with Invicta FC came first.

If she’s successful in her attempt to defeat Inoue in the main event of Saturday’s Invicta FC card, the unbeaten talent expects to be closer to the Octagon. If everything goes right, she says, her next fight could already be in the UFC.

”It definitely gets me closer, especially because Mizuki is seen as a definitive test,” Jandiroba told MMA Fighting. “I think I will be one step closer to the UFC. I expect to defend the title at least once before going to the UFC, but I hope I’m wrong [laughs]. I expect to defend the belt. I think Invicta is a amazing promotion that respects the fighters.”

The original plan for Invicta FC 28 was to feature fellow Brazilians Jandiroba and Janaisa Morandin for the vacant championship, but Inoue stepped in to replace the injured Morandin on three weeks’ notice.

”The characteristics of the fight changes, of course, but I’m not worried about it because I’ve trained with grapplers and strikers, so I’m prepared for everything,” Jandiroba said. “Janaisa was more explosive, Mizuki is not that explosive nor has her pressure, but maybe she’s more technical, especially on the ground. Her style is similar to mine, going for takedowns. That’s the biggest difference, but I’ve fought many grapplers before.”

Jandiroba holds a perfect 12-0 record in MMA with 10 submission victories. Inoue has a similar record, submitting nine opponents en route to a 12-4 record, but “Carcara” expects the Japanese strawweight to try to test her hands a little bit before turning the fight into a grappling war.

”I believe she will avoid going to the ground, at least early in the fight,” said Jandiroba, who trained with boxing coach Luiz Dorea, who has trained MMA stars like Junior dos Santos, Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers for years. “I believe this fight will be longer, maybe we fight five rounds. I don’t expect a quick and easy fight, but I hope I’m wrong as well [laughs].”

”I don’t know if it’s a better match-up (than Morandin), but I think that fighting Mizuki is better for me because she’s like a definitive test. Many fighters that have fought her are in the UFC today, she’s very popular, so that motivates me even more.”