Lemos earned a shot at the gold by finishing Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Marina Rodrigues in back-to-back fights ins 2022, and aims to become the first to ever make Weili tap in MMA when they meet inside the TD Garden in Boston.
“I see myself submitting her. I truly believe that,” Lemos said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “People think she will try to take me down. I think she might stand and trade with me, or she really might take me down, but we’ll surprise her with my jiu-jitsu in case that happens.”
Weili has finished two opponents in the UFC using her grappling, forcing Jessica Aguilar to tap early in her UFC career and most recently dismantling Carla Esparza on the mat. Lemos also scored two of her seven octagon wins via submission, choking out Waterson-Gomez and Miranda Granger. The Brazilian, however, feels that her punching power might be too much for Weili.
“Weili is dangerous, we know it’s a tough fight for both of us,” Lemos said. “I saw on the Esparza fight that she has evolved her jiu-jitsu, but I do think I’ve evolved mine, too. I’ve been working on my grappling as of late. I’ve been working on my striking as well. Of all the strikers she has faced, I don’t think she has encountered a tough hand [like mine]. I do think that’s an advantage for me on the feet.”
Lemos said that “I’ll be ready wherever the fight goes” and “it’s going to be a great fight,” and much to that is credit to her for sticking to her roots and not leaving her hometown of Belém for a bigger MMA team overseas.
Lemos hopes that clinching the UFC belt leads to the promotion returning for an event in Brazil for the first time since 2018, when Lyoto Machida and Eryk Anders headlined its sole trip to a city with historic ties to the combat sports community.
“I’ve always done my camps here and now I’m fighting for the belt,” Lemos said. “It all came from Belém. I don’t like all the noise and people around me, so it’s very important for me to see my evolution after training here.”