Bethe Correia’s return to the winning column after three years and 11 days meant more than just a victory for the Brazilian bantamweight.
The onetime UFC title challenger had to dig deep after losing the first round to Sijara Eubanks in the preliminary portion of UFC Mexico City on Saturday night, emerging victorious via unanimous decision and snapping an uncomfortable 0-2-1 skid in the company.
“Satisfied” with the win, Correia told MMA Fighting she almost pulled out of the fight due to an injury.
“I had a complicated training camp,” Correia said after the win. “I had a lower back injury and almost withdrew from the fight. I couldn’t walk for three days. I went to the hospital and people around me wanted me to cancel the fight, but I didn’t let them do it.”
To make things worse, “Pitbull” says she had issues hours before the bout on Saturday, too.
“I threw up all day Saturday until an hour before the fight,” Correia said. “I was pretty much fasting during the fight [laughs], but I still managed to come back and win. Man, I really had reasons to celebrate.”
Correia had only won once in her previous six UFC bouts, and she hopes that her win over Eubanks in Mexico City will serve as inspiration for her sister Tatiana Correia, who’s battling breast cancer.
“I was thinking about my sister throughout my entire camp because she was doing chemotherapy, she lost hair, and I really wish I could have been there with her this entire time,” Correia said. “I was away from her for three months in camp, following her treatment online, the symptoms she was experiencing, and I saw how strong she was. I was fighting a girl there and she was fighting cancer. That motivated me a lot. That made me stronger. This joy is for her and my family.”
“Pitbull” will spend a few days in Mexico before flying back to Brazil to be with her sister, who is expected to undergo mastectomy. “I won in the Octagon now, and she will win in life,” Correia said.
Confident that Tatiana Correia will be successful in her fight against cancer, “Pitbull” sounds off on fans that criticized her for any reason, even the way she celebrated the decision win with a dance in the Octagon.
“People will complain about everything, even with the way I celebrate,” Correia said. “I always dance. I really felt relieved this time. I went through difficult moments, both personally and professionally, dealing with health issues, coming off losses… Brazilians were demanding a lot from me while not knowing what we’re going through.”
Correia won’t worry about her next step in the UFC now. After a grueling camp and fight, “Pitbull” is hoping to move up the latter in the bantamweight division and maybe get the chance to avenge a split-decision defeat to Raquel Pennington in 2016.
“I’m not thinking about an opponent yet,” Correia said. “I would really like to fight someone like Raquel, for example. I can’t swallow that loss. But I’m open to fighting whoever the UFC thinks it’s best for me. I’m always down to fighting and I don’t choose opponents.”