Cheyanne Buys left it all behind and then left it all in the cage.
The strawweight prospect was one of the stars of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 33 event, needing just 60 seconds to dispatch of Gloria de Paula in the evening’s co-headlining bout. Buys landed a cracking head kick as de Paula scrambled to recover from a takedown and followed with ground-and-pound to record the emphatic victory.
It was a dramatic turnaround from Buys’ UFC debut in March, which saw her lose a lackluster decision to Montserrat Ruiz after spending much of the bout being controlled on the ground. Buys’ performance that night was more memorable for a post-fight dustup between the two women than any hype she’d generated on the Contender Series.
Buys earned one of Saturday’s $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses and afterwards, she put into perspective just how much that extra money means to her.
“I just found out two seconds ago I got Performance of the Night, so yeah, it’s pretty surreal,” Buys said at the post-event press conference. “Seven weeks ago I decided to make a big risk and just ditch my house and everything in it in Dallas, Texas, and I came here with my animals and my husband and we have one vehicle. We packed up our car with one suitcase. We came here, we didn’t have a house, we had nothing. I had to get a loan just to get a house and I knew coming in here tonight that my whole paycheck was just gonna go back to that loan.
“I took a big risk to get a big reward and I can’t thank [enough] my team, my husband, my family because they were the ones that said, ‘Listen, you’re gonna have to go broke for a little bit just to get something good out of this.’ I knew I had to do it and I just feel so happy.”
Ahead of her first UFC fight, Buys was training in Texas with Fortis MMA. When she began her career, it was with Las Vegas’ Xtreme Couture team and she returned there to prepare for her fight with de Paula. Buys was effusive in her praise for coach Eric Nicksick and the rest of the team that played a part in Saturday’s win.
Buys isn’t making any extravagant plans for her win bonus or her Performance of the Night bonus, especially since much of her earnings will go towards more practical considerations.
“I am negative in my account right now,” Buys said. “So it’s gonna make a big difference. My whole paycheck is I have to pay back $15,000 for a loan I got from a few people, so I made 10 and 10 for my win and show so that $20,000 was just gone. And I’m okay with is, I was okay if I won and that check was gone because I made that move out here and I knew that this fight was just gonna be for the move. It was the best decision me and my husband made for our careers and just to get that bonus…
“I’ve been so broke my whole life because of this sport but it’s so worth it to me because I love this sport, but to get a $50,000 paycheck, my husband’s gonna tell me to put it away, I’m definitely gonna want to buy some nice stuff, but I like to buy a little bit of things for the house and for my animals. I really like to spoil my family, but this week I’m definitely taking my team to go get a nice dinner. It’s life-changing for sure, but I’ve got to put the money away and just go out there and fight again.”
Money isn’t Buys’ only motivation, as much as it helps. The sting of her disappointing UFC debut was made worse by the manner in which she lost as Conejo utilized a basic headlock to stifle Buys for much of that contest.
Buys is optimistic that the highlight she produced against de Paula will go a long way towards fans forgetting her first UFC fight.
“I didn’t get to show sh*t,” Buys said of the Conejo fight. “I didn’t get to show much. I got headlocked forever and it was embarrassing. I had to deal with it. I had to deal with the trolls. I had to deal with being known as ‘the headlock girl’ and I told my husband leading into this fight, ‘I can die and I will not die knowing I am that headlock girl. I will not die knowing I’m 0-1 in the UFC.’ One and one is a lot better than zero and two.”