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Amanda Lemos of Brazil reacts after her victory over Montserrat Conejo of Mexico in their strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Amanda Lemos Hiding In Plain Sight

Frequent Finisher's Come-Up Continues; Looks To Put Strawweight Elite On Notice

“This woman is a contender, if not a potential champion,” commentator Michael Bisping said of Amanda Lemos at the conclusion of her bout vs Montserrat Conejo last July. The TKO performance was a scant 45 seconds, but it was more than ample evidence that one of the most dangerous strawweights on the roster is hiding in plain sight.

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“I think I’m starting to show what I bring to this division and people are liking it,” Lemos says.

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That’s accurate. Perhaps it was the relative infrequency of her fighting schedule (her bout with Conejo was only her fifth since joining the promotion in 2017) that allowed her to fly under the radar for so long. But as she enters her third fight of 2021 with first-round finishes in three of her four UFC wins, the heads are finally, rightfully, beginning to turn.

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Sitting at No. 11 in the strawweight division, Lemos had originally been slated to take on No. 6 Nina Nunes this Saturday. When Nunes was forced to withdraw, Lemos was then paired with Angela Hill for the main card tilt on UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus. Whether it was Nunes or Hill, both opponents represent the same thing: a step up in the echelon of competition for the supremely skilled “Amandinha.”

“It doesn’t change much,” she says of the opponent change. “The strategy is the same. I’m more focused on myself. I’m there to get the win.

“Angela is very good. She comes from kickboxing, but I think I’m going to be able to impose my strategy, my game. I’m pretty sure that once she feels my hands, she’s going to go down. Pay attention, because Saturday I’m going to have another knockout,” she says cooly. It’s a bold prediction, but not an inaccurate one. Seven of her 10 professional wins have come via her fists.

Taken strictly on her performance in the Octagon, Lemos’ career to date is already impressive. But combined with her backstory, it’s the stuff of an award-winning drama.

Shortly after winning the bantamweight title of her native Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion in 2016, Lemos retired from the sport entirely. In the ensuing two years she fractured her spine in a motorcycle accident, had three surgeries and somehow was still able to return and resurrect her MMA career under the UFC banner. An unfortunate USADA suspension shortly thereafter put her back on the sidelines for another two years. Looking back on it now, the now 34-year old is alternately humbled and inspired. She summed it up beautifully on her Instagram recently with the quote "I know I'm on the right path because everything is no longer easy." It’s the perfect summation of her journey to date.

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“I had a lot of obstacles to overcome along my way. But I have family, I have friends, I have a lot of people that helped me…and here I am today.”

She’s slightly less proud of her TikTok dancing on the same Instagram page. Let’s just say it’s not as refined as her striking.

“I do it better inside the Octagon,” she laughs. “TkiTok is just play for me and my coach. It’s real inside the Octagon.”

Of course, award-winning dramas have climactic, often heroic, endings for the protagonist, and that is what Lemos’ is bent upon achieving. She’s already proven to herself she can beat the odds. Winning a few more fights—in relative terms—is the easy part.

“Maybe one or two more fights. I think after winning against Angela I’m going to get into the Top 10, and then I can get a Top 5 opponent. I’ll be right there.”

 

Don't miss a moment of the final fight night of the year at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus, live from the UFC APEX on ESPN+. Prelims begin at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Main card begins at 7pm ET/4pm PT.