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Maria Oliveira explains ‘crazy decision’ to join reality TV show during UFC 289 camp

MMA: NOV 18 UFC - UFC Vegas 65
Maria Oliveira
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maria Oliveira was already booked to face Diana Belbita at UFC 289 when she was called by one of Brazil’s biggest televsion networks, Record, to be part of an upcoming reality show.

Oliveira, who previously went viral by crashing the birthday party of Brazilian superstar Anitta, didn’t think twice. She joined the program A Grande Conquista on May 8, less than five weeks prior to UFC 289, and considered withdrawing from the bout depending on how she did on the show. Ultimately, however, Oliveira was eliminated just one week later.

“I was invited to be on [popular reality TV show] A Fazenda last year but went to a fight and lost [to Vanessa Demopoulos],” Oliveira said told MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “This time I had a fight booked but decided to take the risk. I knew there were two stages on the show so I didn’t cancel the fight. If I didn’t make it to the mansion, I’d fight, and that’s what I did.”

Being on a reality TV show was a dream come true for the UFC fighter.

In the end, however, it didn’t pay off as she anticipated.

“I kind of shot myself in the foot because it gave me less time to train,” Oliveira said. “I normally do a two-month camp, but came back to the gym [on May 24]. But I’m happy. It was a crazy decision that from the bottom of my heart I don’t regret because it was a learning experience.”

Oliveira is 13-6 in MMA and 1-2 since joining the UFC. Her sole octagon victory came in a split decision over Gloria de Paula, the woman who beat Belbita this past February.

“It’s a very winnable fight for me,” Oliveira said of Belbita. “Of all the girls I see in my division, this is a fight I see as very favorable for me, so there’s no way I regret doing that. … I was obviously sad when I left [the show], I was sad I didn’t reach a goal. It was like I had lost a fight. I started questioning a lot of things, but in the end, that was good for me.

“I didn’t fix anything in training because Diana fought Gloria de Paula and lost. I just added cardio to go three rounds without gassing and I hope it goes that way. I think it’s going to be a close fight but I see me ahead. I don’t want to say it’s going to end by knockout or a submission, but I think it’s going to be a great fight. I see myself winning regardless of these circumstances.”

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