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MMA prospect Iasmin Lucindo turned pro at age 14 to defend mother, aunts from domestic violence

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Iasmin Lucindo (right) defeated UFC veteran Sarah Frota via decision at Road to Future.
Vica Bueno, Road to Future

Iasmin Lucindo started training martial arts at age 13 to protect her loved ones, and it quickly became a career. Now, with more than a dozen MMA bouts under her belt, the 19-year-old Brazilian flyweight prospect aims to shine overseas.

Lucindo lived with her parents in Genibau, a favela in Fortaleza, when she saw her father assaulting her mother. That, combined with watching her uncles do the same to her aunts, made the 13-year-old sign up to kickboxing classes.

“I’ve always loved sports, but what drove me to learn more was to learn how to defend myself and those around me,” Lucindo told MMA Fighting. “I’ve witnessed physical assaults to my mother and aunts and that led me to learn how to defend myself.”

Her mother and aunts split from their partners after the assaults, Lucindo said, and it took years of therapy for the teenager to decide to get in touch with her father again.

“I saw that many men are cowards and want to try to take advantage [of women], and we never forget the things we see as kids,” Lucindo said. “I’ve seen that happen many times in my family. It made me really, really angry. I’d see that and tell myself I never wanted that for my life, so I had to know how to defend myself and other women in my family in case it happened again. That’s when I started training, to have that ‘weapon’ to defend myself.”

Lucindo began training kickboxing that year and immediately decided to test herself in matches, going 4-0 in her first year. At age 14, Lucindo asked her coach to find her a professional MMA fight. Lucindo was paired up against Alline Khyra, who was twice her age, and won by third-round TKO.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, since I’m already here, let’s do it’ — and I won,” Lucindo said. “When I got in there and my hands were raised, I knew that’s what I wanted for my life. I felt alive when I got inside the cage for the first time and felt that adrenaline. I wanted to get out of there, but at the same time I wanted to stay.”

Her mother was very supportive of her decision to fight MMA, Lucindo said, but looking back “we knew the risks I was taking, but it was a crazy decision that paid off.”

A decision victory over Layze Cerqueira in 2019 changed her MMA career forever. Lucindo impressed Cerqueira’s coach Renato Velame and was invited to be part of the team and be one of Virna Jandiroba’s sparring partners, and she has won twice since, including a decision over UFC veteran Sarah Frota.

Now booked to face Beriuzka Canelon on Aug. 21 in Bahia, Brazil, Lucindo hopes to prove she’s ready to make the jump to international leagues next.

“[Beating Frota] showed I’m ready,” Lucindo said. “When you beat a veteran that has fought in big shows, that shows I’m more than ready for the big shows as well.”