Melissa Gatto signed with the UFC at the eleventh hour for a debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2019, but had several bumps on the road along the way before finally entering the octagon in 2021 to defeat Victoria Leonardo in her promotional debut in August.
Now, the Brazilian flyweight feels it’s time to show her true potential in the sport.
Undefeated in nine professional bouts, with seven wins and two draws, Gatto returns to action in the preliminary portion of UFC Vegas 45 against Sijara Eubanks confident that her performance will be even better now that the octagon jitters are no longer in play.
“I was very anxious to make my debut already and show a bit of my work, so I think I got a little bit anxious when it was time to fight,” Gatto told MMA Fighting. “I wanted to show everything I had in one fight to make up for lost time, and now I’ll be able to show a bit more, but less anxious.”
Gatto was ahead in the scorecards after the first two rounds against Leonardo at UFC 265, and ultimately Leonardo was unable to answer the bell for the final stanza after breaking her arm in a kimura attempt by the Brazilian. Gatto rates her debut performance a seven out of 10, and vows to stop Eubanks at UFC Vegas 45.
“I want to go for the submission or the knockout, especially because she was never finished in her career,” Gatto said, “and also show a bit more of my potential inside the organization. It will be very important for me to get a victory that way.”
Gatto said she worked with UFC bantamweight Karol Rosa for this camp in Brazil. Rosa, who lost via submission to Gatto in the Brazilian regional circuit back in 2018, is now ranked No. 12 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and was scheduled to face Eubanks twice in the UFC, so Gatto deeply studied her game even though the bouts never came to fruition.
“We watched [Eubanks’] fights many times, not only the UFC ones, and I think she’s very complete and well-rounded,” Gatto said. “She does well on the feet and on the ground and has good takedowns, and I think it’s a great matchup for us. She has a few losses, but has only lost to girls that are ranked high in the UFC. She’s very tough and valuable to the organization.
“My focus is getting through this fight and then think about the future, but I’ll climb [the division] step-by-step. I plan on fighting at least three times next year. I was away for a long time so I want to fight again as quick as possible.”