As the saying goes, it’s often that we learn more in defeat than in victory. That seems to have been the case for Viviane Araujo after her last appearance in the Octagon, where the Brazilian suffered her first UFC loss to Jessica Eye.
At weigh-ins, Eye missed weight and the fighters agreed to a catchweight bout at 131 pounds. Then Araujo broke her hand in the first round. Things clearly weren’t going her way. She wasn’t able to focus on the fight – through all the pain from her hand – and went on to lose by unanimous decision. But what Araujo learned from that experience may help her for years to come in the Octagon.
“The opponent not making weight did upset me,” Araujo said. “It is a commitment that we have to fulfill; it is the first step for the whole world to see you as a professional. When the opponent does not make weight, we get a little hesitant. It is an advantage that the opponent has, so it messes with your head a little.
“But I learned a lot from this fight. I broke my hand in the first round and was unable to focus on strategy after that. She used her experience to dominate the following rounds, so I learned that despite all adversity, always stay focused. And also, don’t leave the result in the hands of the judges.”
That new mindset came into play recently, as well. Araujo had seen two fights this summer with Jennifer Maia get scrapped, the first due to travel issue and the second due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“I managed to stay positive and I worked my psychological game a lot,” Araujo said. “Things happen as they should, at the right time. Right when I recovered, we managed to schedule another fight. I am very privileged. I had only a few mild symptoms of the disease, just a small cold, and a very mild headache. As soon as the 15 days passed, I did another test and it was negative, so my doctor cleared me for training. Right after that I continued to train and working on being 100 percent. Today I can say that I am ready for the fight on Saturday.”
Araujo will take all the lessons she’s learned into her bout with Montana De La Rosa on Saturday at UFC Vegas 9. If she can focus and ace her game plan, she believes there are a few advantages she holds over the current No. 12-ranked flyweight.
But, like she’s learned over the past year, Araujo is prepared for things to go in a different direction. De La Rosa is a notoriously strong wrestler, and if things happen to go to the mat, Araujo is embracing the opportunity to show off her jiu-jitsu for the first time.
“Montana is a very experienced athlete; she likes the grappling game. But me and the team studied her game and set up a strategy,” Araujo said. “My boxing is very sharp, and we saw several gaps in her standup game and also several gaps on the ground. I'm a black belt in jiu-jitsu and I still haven't been able to show that in the organization, so I'm looking forward to it. If she wants to grapple, I'll be ready to dominate on the ground too. It will be bad for her the whole time.”
If Araujo makes it as bad for De La Rosa as she plans, it would mark a great start to a run that she hopes ends with a title shot somewhere down the line. Araujo wants to fight again this year, potentially in December, and remain active. Sitting at No. 8 among the flyweights, she believes a win over De La Rosa could earn her a Top 5 opponent. A win there, and the belt isn’t far off, though none of that is to say she’s looking past Saturday.
“In the perfect scenario I find myself winning by submission in the second round,” Araujo said.