UFC 216 results: Poliana Botelho outworks takedown-hungry Pearl Gonzalez for decision sweep

It probably wasn’t how she wanted to get a win in her UFC debut, but Poliana Botelho certainly will take it.

Botelho (6-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Pearl Gonzalez (6-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) with a trio of 30-27 scores. Gonzalez spent much of the fight trying to take Botelho down, but never could, and Botelho picked up the win by staying active with her back against the fence.

The women’s strawweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC 216 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on FX following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on pay-per-view.

Gonzalez got to the center of the cage quickly, then worked three hard leg kicks early. Botelho clinched up, but Gonzalez pushed her to the fence. They stayed there for a couple minutes until referee Jason Herzog finally broke them apart. Botelho tried to kick again after the break, but they tied up again. They traded positions on the fence, but it was Gonzalez mostly in control. Botelho landed elbows from that clinched position, but that was her best offense. Gonzalez left her little choice. But at least she was working.

Gonzalez went after a takedown early in the second, but couldn’t complete it. Instead, it was a repeat of the first round – Gonzalez was in control, but Botelho’s offense was in landing elbows as long as she couldn’t get her back off the cage. Botelho landed knees from that tied-up position, and then more elbows. From an offensive standpoint, Botelho was doing more work – but the perception may have been that Gonzalez was winning thanks to the control. With 90 seconds left, Herzog broke them apart. Down the stretch, Gonzalez landed a left jab, then ducked barely away from two big Botelho right hands.

Botelho clipped Gonzalez with a right in the third, but Gonzalez ate it and again pressed Botelho to the cage. Botelho kept punching and elbowing, and Gonzalez kept going after the takedown – with nothing there. When Herzog broke them apart with 100 seconds left, it took Gonzalez only 10 secnods to clinch back up again. She appeared to be out of gas from the takedown attempts.

With 35 seconds left, again Herzog broke them apart for the home stretch and Botelho landed a kick to the body, then barely missed a spinning kick up high. Gonzalez tied her up again and heard the boos from the crowd. And with a few seconds left, Botelho took Gonzalez down. When she got up at the horn, she threw shade Gonzalez’s way and walked away with a disgusted look on her face.

Botelho won for the fourth straight time in what was her first fight in more than two years. Gonzalez lost for the second straight time, both in the UFC, after signing with the promotion on a six-fight winning streak earlier this year.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 216 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Simon Samano contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Once with nothing but 'a backpack full of dreams,' Poliana Botelho eager to make UFC debut

Poliana Botelho’s road to the octagon might have been quicker than the one taken by some of her peers. But it doesn’t mean it was easy.

In fact, it didn’t get much easier even after she got there.

Botelho was only three years into her MMA career when, in September 2016, a meeting with Valerie Letourneau was agreed upon for UFC 206. But the following month, when she threw an overhand right that landed flush on the head of one of her trainers during a sparring session, an injured Botelho had to withdraw .

Fellow Brazilian Viviane Pereira, the only opponent who’d ever beaten Botelho in an MMA bout, stepped in – and won. And Botelho went from training for a former title challenger to watching from the sidelines. (via Instagram)

Instagram Photo

Fortunately, the injury didn’t require surgery. So, in a few months, the strawweight was able to go back to training and shedding the pounds she’d put on – partially thanks to the medication for her hand. Things were going just fine until, as it sometimes happens, they weren’t.

“My weight was low, I got back to 128 pounds,” Botelho told MMAjunkie. “I was skinny, just waiting for the UFC to get me a fight. And then once again, in training, I landed a straight right in the girl’s face, and my hand broke in the same place. I re-fractured it and had to put the cast again.

“(But) the second time, I said, ‘I’m not going to stop. I’m going to train in a cast, use only my left arm. I’m not going to stop and let my weight go up again like it did.’”

Botelho’s commitment paid off. After a solid camp, her octagon debut is on track for Saturday’s UFC 216. Looking back, Botelho won’t deny the stress of having the same unfortunate incident repeat itself. But after a year that proved difficult all around, she chooses to focus on the positives.

“Last year was rough for me,” Botelho said. “Not only because of my hand, but I had two losses in my family. My nephew died; my cousin died. I had a bunch of bad things happening. I took it as a lesson. For some reason, this delay in my UFC debut had to happen.

“But there’s no explaining it. It’s God’s plan. I just had to accept it, because there was nothing I could do.”

At this point, though, grinding her teeth and pressing forward seems like something Botelho has grown accustomed to.

At 28, Botelho lives in Rio de Janeiro – where she is both managed and trained by Andre Pederneiras at the renowned Nova Uniao headquarters. Botelho dedicates her time exclusively to fighting, which involves two or three daily training sessions. She has a UFC contract and an XFCi belt to show for her efforts.

But that was far from the case less than five years ago, when she was still living in the small town of Muriae, Minas Gerais. At 24, Botelho had taken part in all sorts of physical activities throughout her life. She even traveled to pursue handball professionally. A lack of financial support forced Botelho to give up on sports.

Then came fighting – and with it, a second chance.

“Until I was 24, I’d never done anything fight-related in my life,” Botelho said. “I worked out a lot, but I’d given up the other sports. I was very strong, so I started getting a little chubby. A little rotund (laughs). So a friend of mine who was training muay Thai told me to go try it. I went.

“On my first day, I kicked the heavy bag, and the teacher asked me to fight for him. I said, ‘Hold on, I have never done this in my life. One thing at a time.’”

Whether that counts as “holding on” or not is debatable, but fact is, three months later, she had her first muay Thai fight. Botelho also happened to knock out her opponent in the first round – a pattern that would repeat itself in four of her five MMA wins (the fifth one, though also a knockout, went into the fourth round).

Instagram Photo

Jiu-jitsu followed. Then MMA. After two pro bouts, Botelho followed the advice of a UFC vet from her hometown, jiu-jitsu expert Yan Cabral, to consider Nova Uniao. Botelho was aware the gym was home to the likes of then-featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.

First, she visited Rio to try out. Then, welcomed by Pederneiras into the team, she decided to stay.

“I had no place to stay,” Botelho recalls. “I had no money, no sponsorships. I had nothing. I came with my courage and, like my trainer says, a backpack full of dreams, and that’s it.”

Thanks to UFC strawweight and former fellow Nova Uniao product Claudia Gadelha, Botelho went to live with Michele Tavares, who’s still her Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach. The support she found in her new city, however, didn’t mean a struggle-free day-to-day.

“Now I think about it. Like, how did I come up with the money to pay rent?” Botelho said. “Every month, it was a struggle. There were days when I didn’t eat. I had to climb up to Morro Azul (a poorer community near the Nova Uniao headquarters, which attracts fighters due to lower rent prices) crying. I’d call my mom, crying and exhausted. It was rough.”

Botelho says her parents supported and helped her in any way they could, but they simply didn’t have that much to give. To make matters worse, despite all the sacrifice, Botelho’s first efforts representing Nova Uniao didn’t really go as she had planned.

“My first fight was in a jiu-jitsu tournament,” Botelho said. “I was disqualified, because I broke the girl’s hand. I wasn’t allowed to apply a wrist lock, but that’s what I did. Then I had my first Bitetti Combat fight and suffered my first and only loss. I think it was a test, really, as to whether I really wanted it. Because I was off to a bad start.”

Understandably, Botelho was discouraged. But thanks to the constant reassurance of a trainer who she considers a brother in Rafael Bertho, she pressed on. And she walked into her XFCi debut, against Karina Rodriguez, determined to turn things around.

“I fought as if there was no tomorrow,” Botelho said. “I wanted that win so bad. (It showed) not only in the fight, but also in my training. I train so hard. Whenever I leave home and get to practice, I do it for real. I never stall.” (via Instagram)

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Botelho got a win. And then another win. And then she got the opportunity to fight for XFCi’s women’s flyweight belt. While the meeting with the then-undefeated Argentinian Silvana Juarez proved to be “a war” that went four rounds, Botelho won that one, too. And then, came the UFC contract.

Although she’s been sidelined from fighting, Botelho has had a taste of UFC life. Not only has she taken part in a few promotional activities and traveled to Las Vegas to attend the fighter’s summit, she even got to be featured in a novela (Brazil’s equivalent of a soap opera). (via Instagram)

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That’s fun and all. But it’s still not what Botelho has set out to do.

“On the one hand, it’s good that I got to be close to (the UFC),” Botelho said. “But the reality is that I want to fight. It’s not to show up at UFC parties. I like it, but my thing is fighting. I want to fight.”

A few bumps and bruises later, Botelho (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will finally debut this Saturday against Pearl Gonzalez (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC). They meet on an FX-televised 115-pound preliminary bout, which takes place at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

As far as her opponent goes, Botelho sees a solid fighter and an overall favorable matchup. Can she knock Gonzalez out? Sure. But, after years honing her wrestling and jiu-jitsu alongside UFC-level peers, she’s made sure that is not her only weapon in the cage.

“All my wins were knockouts, but I’ve never looked for that,” Botelho said. “I believe knockouts are things that happen. They say strikers just smell blood. But I don’t chase it. If it happens, awesome. If not, I just want to win and show what I train and work for up there in the octagon.”

After that, Botelho’s road can go in different directions. When she first signed her contract, the UFC didn’t offer a women’s flyweight division. So Botelho came aboard at 115 pounds. While she wants to see how that will pan out in her debut, Botelho admits the dieting has been a struggle, which could mean a move up.

Before any of that happens, however, Botelho has a fight with Gonzalez to get through. And, win or lose on Saturday, she knows just how much she’s had to overcome just to be up there.

“There are some butterflies in my belly, of course,” Botelho said. “When you think of it, I’m in the biggest promotion in the world. Sometimes it seems unbelievable. But then I see everything I put into it, how hard I worked.

“More than anyone, I know how hard I work. How much of myself I put into it. We know when we’re doing good work. I feel like I am. This camp was well done. Even if I go up there, and it doesn’t pan out, I did everything that I had to do.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Pearl Gonzalez vs. debuting Poliana Botelho officially booked for UFC 216

Pearl Gonzalez will look to rebound from her UFC debut, and hopefully this time there will be no last-minute distraction.

The UFC has made official a fight between strawweights Gonzalez (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Poliana Botelho (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event airs on pay-per-view, with prelims slated for FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In her promotional debut earlier this year, Gonzalez suffered a submission loss to Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 210 after a chaotic 24 hours before the fight. The New York State Athletic Commission originally had informed Gonzalez following weigh-ins that she wouldn’t be allowed to fight because of her breast implants. But hours later the decision was reversed, and the fight went on as planned.

The fiasco by the NYSAC suddenly had put Gonzalez into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons during final preparations for the biggest fight of her life.

“I don’t think I wanted the world to know about my surgery and to be talked about like this,” Gonzalez said before her loss.

In the Brazilian Botelho, Gonzalez faces a fighter making her UFC debut, riding a three-fight winning streak. All five of Botelho’s victory have come by way of knockout or TKO.

With the addition, the latest UFC 216 card now includes:

  • Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
  • Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
  • Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
  • Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
  • Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell
  • Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
  • Jessica Eye vs. Paige VanZant
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Having a bad day? These pics of kids getting a cool MMA masterclass from UFC fighters in Rio should help

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As far as MMA introductions go, it’s hard to top the masterclass a group happy-looking children and teenagers from social projects in Rio de Janeiro got this past Saturday.

As part of the celebrations of the one-year anniversary the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio, former PRIDE heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was joined by six active UFC fighters in teaching the free class, held at the venue that hosted basketball competitions at the Olympics.

Former strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade, flyweight Alexandre Pantoja, lightweight Alan Patrick, strawweight Poliana Botelho and middleweights Vitor Miranda and Thiago “Marreta” Santos all shared some knowledge.

“Social actions like these bring the children closer to martial arts and work as motivation for them to follow this path, as many have little access to sports,” Nogueira stated. “I believe that, by allowing direct access with idols such as UFC fighters, we help both the self-esteem and the development of these children.

“I’ve been working with this for a while and I understand how much the engagement between sports and social projects benefits the future of or country.”

Did the kids enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience? Check out the photos in the gallery above and decide for yourself.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie