The last time she fought, Tracy Cortez’s fight week was perhaps the closest thing you can get in real life MMA to a fairy tale. Her face brightens immediately upon the mere mention of it.
“Fighting in my hometown was a dream come true.”
The hometown, of course, is Phoenix, and it was last May’s UFC 274 where she cruised to victory over Melissa Gatto.
“It was amazing. I felt the crowd, I felt their energy, the support. Being there and representing was probably the dopest thing I’ve yet to do.”
That entire week, everything Cortez did -including being invited onto the floor with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns - seemed to be the stuff of dreams, the things people rarely dare to imagine. The storybook ending even had a handsome prince in the form of Brian Ortega. Looking back on it now, what milestone could possibly top it?
“Winning the belt,” she laughs, although she’s not kidding. Still, there’s a bucket list of moments she’d like to get done in her fight career.
“I said it earlier today, my next [dream] would be to fight in Mexico in front of my family. That’s another goal of mine. But until then, we’re here in Orlando.”
We are indeed in Orlando, just hours away from what - on paper at least -promises to be amongst the most challenging bouts of her career to date when she meets Amanda Ribas on the prelims of UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Holland.
“I think she’s tough,” Cortez says of her opponent. “I think she’s a well-rounded fighter. I think it’s going to be a good fight.”
Ribas has trended towards dominant in her fights at strawweight, but narrowly missed in her 125-pound debut, a split decision loss to Katlyn Chookagian last May. Despite being comfortable at both flyweight and strawweight, the 10-1 Cortez isn’t assuming she’ll have the automatic advantage. But she’s certain she’ll prevail.
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“Getting my hand raised,” she predicts. “How? I don’t know. I just know it’s going to be a good fight. I know she’s going to keep the pace up, as she does every fight.
“I know she prepared hard and this is a new territory for her, fighting in the flyweight division. So we both have something to prove.”
Despite going undefeated since her second professional fight, and looking thoroughly dominant in each of her four UFC bouts since winning on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2019, Cortez still can’t escape the feeling that her considerable talent is sometimes overlooked.
“I tend to get underestimated a lot,” she says. She understands that only winning and continuing her steady march towards the top will remedy the doubt. In a bout with nearly even betting odds, Cortez can identify what will make the difference Saturday at the Amway Center.
“Heart. Purpose. She doesn’t have my reasonings, my struggles. I’ve said it before, I’m not here to prove anything to anybody. This is something that’s for myself, my family, my future. My dreams and goals. It’s gotten me here today, so I’m going to continue.
“I move very well with a positive environment. With love. With my team. I love the people that are around me. I have a great support system, and because of that, I’ve been thriving.”