Gloria de Paula inked a UFC deal after earning a decision over previously unbeaten Pauline Macias at Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020, but has come up short in both of her fights since joining the company.
“I’m seeing this fight as if it were the Contender [Series], you know?” de Paula told MMA Fighting. “It’s like it’s all or nothing.”
With her back against the wall following defeats to Jinh Yu Frey and Cheyanne Vlismas in 2021, de Paula and her girlfriend Mayra Bueno Silva, who also competes in the UFC, decided to move away from Chute Boxe and reunite with de Paula’s first coach Fabi Belai in Campinas, Sao Paulo.
“I’m really excited,” de Paula said. “I still haven’t been able to show my game inside the UFC. Both negative results I’ve had, I’m using that as motivation to train and give my best and show who I am inside the octagon.
“I can’t say exactly [what was missing], but I’m feeling way more prepared now, and I’m sure this will be my chance to show it. I had a complete camp and made sure to evolve in all aspects of the game.”
Belbita also kicked off her UFC career with a 0-2 skid, dropping a decision to Molly McCann before tapping to an armbar against Liana Jojua, but rebounded with a decision victory over Hannah Goldy this past July.
De Paula said it’s made “all the difference” to train with a Muay Thai coach like Belai for this bout. Yet the 26-year-old admits her strategy going into UFC Vegas 48 is heavily dependent on wrestling and grappling since four of Belbita’s six MMA defeats came via submission.
“It’s the perfect fight for me, the style matches up well with mine,” de Paula said. “She’s tall for the division and has good reach, so I have to be alert with that, but I have a complete game and I’ll do a different game. I’ll show a ‘Glorinha’ that isn’t limited only to the striking.
“We came up with this [gameplan] for our strategy, so trade a little bit, since it’s what I have best, but I’ve worked heavily on my wrestling to take her down and probably submit her. … I see myself taking her down, taking her back, and submitting her.”