Talita Nogueira and Cat Zingano will be facing different opponents at Bellator 256, which goes down Friday night in Uncasville, Conn.
Yet Nogueira said she has signed a contract to fight the one-time UFC title contender on April 9, only to find out it was Zingano who backed out.
Nogueira, who takes on Jessica Borga in the prelims of Bellator 256, doesn’t know why Zingano changed her mind and decided to agree to fight Olivia Parker instead.
“I signed the contract to fight her, but it didn’t happen,” Nogueira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “They wanted me to keep telling them how much I weighed, and I said I wouldn’t do it. I don’t know what happened. I guess they were worried about me getting too heavy after the weigh-ins, and I don’t really get it, because Bellator knows I don’t gain much weight. That’s exactly my problem, that I don’t gain too much weight.”
“Treta” said she almost hit 198 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when she couldn’t train properly in Los Angeles, and opted against accepting any MMA fights until her weight was down again. With a private gym built in her home garage now, Nogueira hopes Bellator matches her up against Zingano next.
“If I win [Friday], I want [this fight],” she said. “It’s a matter of honor for me now. I was mad because I was already training for her style. It sucks when things change like that. [But] I know it happens.
“And then they had to change it again because [Bellator offered Arlene Blencowe]. I was like, she’s tougher and I don’t have much time to adjust for her. I trained a full month for a grappler and now I’m fighting a badass striker? F*ck. OK, we have to fight, I accepted it, and then they said it wouldn’t happen anymore. It was a stressful week.”
Borga, her final opponent for Bellator 256, submitted Amber Leibrock with an armbar in her promotional debut back in September 2019, but hasn’t competed since. Nogueira has been active in the jiu-jitsu circuit but hasn’t entered the Bellator cage in 18 months.
The Brazilian featherweight was stopped by then-champion Julia Budd in 2018 and then lost a split decision to Jessy Miele a year later.
Now, Nogueira feels a different fighter after switching teams in the United States. This time, the multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion finally believes she has a real MMA camp.
“Training was way better this time,” said Nogueira, who is sparring more frequently now. “I left a place where I did a lot of jiu-jitsu at Demian [Maia’s] gym and went to a striking-only gym [laughs], so my mind was confused. I lost all the confidence I had in my takedowns, and striking wasn’t my thing, so you can only imagine how my head was.
“I got punched in the face for the first time in the Julia fight. That’s when I got beat up for the first time. Not even in training. I had never done that, I had no idea how it was. I didn’t know how did it feel to bleed, to get punched in the face for real. That was all new to me, you know? And I was way too calm in the next fight. I had cardio, but I was too calm. If I had trained more jiu-jitsu like when I was at Demian’s I would have won. I’m more complete this time.”