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 Amanda Lemos of Brazil reacts after the conclusion of her bantamweight fight against Angela Hill during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Amanda Lemos Gets Right Back To Work

11-2-1 Strawweight Looks To Recapture Momentum vs Michelle Waterson In Long Island

Amanda Lemos entered 2022 on a high.

After earning solid victories in her first two appearances in the strawweight division, the former Jungle Fight standout forced her way into the Top 15 on the strength of a trio of victories the previous year.

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In March, she stopped former Invicta FC champ Livinha Souza in the first round. Four months later, she dispatched Montserrat Conejo in just 35 seconds before closing out the year with a split decision win over divisional stalwart Angela Hill. Her two-fight run of success turned into a five-fight winning streak, landing Lemos her first main event assignment in a matchup against Jessica Andrade, the former strawweight champion who was returning to the division after a brief sojourn to the flyweight ranks.

Rise Of Amanda Lemos
Rise Of Amanda Lemos

Everything was trending in the right direction heading into the April engagement, but all that changed in less than four minutes.

“I didn’t expect that,” Lemos said on Tuesday regarding her quick submission loss to Andrade, reflecting on the setback just a few days before she returns to action against Michelle Waterson in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC debut at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. “I trained really hard for that fight, I was well prepared, and I didn’t expect to be finished that quickly. It was Jessica’s night — kudos to her.

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“There’s not much more I can say about it.”

Everyone deals with losses differently.

Some athletes take an extended period of time off or allow themselves to indulge in all the delicacies and deliciousness they are forced to stay away from during training camp, while others have themselves a good cry.

UFC Busan: Amanda Lemos Chokes Out Granger
UFC Busan: Amanda Lemos Chokes Out Granger

Lemos’ process for dealing with the setback was simple: a week off and then straight back into the gym, focused on returning to the Octagon as quickly as possible.

“After my loss, I was immediately thinking about my next fight,” said the 35-year-old Brazilian. “There was no time to cry — I was back in the gym because it made me more motivated, looking forward to getting back into the Octagon to shake that off.

“I wanted to get back in there as fast as possible. I didn’t want to take time off — I went from one camp to another camp; I took one week off after the loss, and then got right back to the gym. I wanted to stay active and when they offered this fight with Michelle, I accepted it right away because I wanted to get back in there and get back to fighting.”

While Saturday’s contest marks a less than three-month turnaround for Lemos, this weekend’s co-main event pairing will be the first fight in well over a year for the veteran contender Waterson.

Currently stationed at No. 10 in the strawweight rankings, the Jackson-Wink MMA representative’s last appearance came last May, when she suffered a unanimous decision loss to streaking contender Marina Rodriguez in an impromptu main event pairing at flyweight. She was twice scheduled to face Amanda Ribas earlier this year, with the original March date being pushed back to UFC 274 in May before Waterson was forced to withdraw entirely due to an undisclosed injury.

For Amanda Lemos, Belem, Brazil Is Always Home
For Amanda Lemos, Belem, Brazil Is Always Home

It’s a quality matchup for the talented Brazilian as she looks to bounce back by taking out a fighter currently positioned ahead of her in the rankings.

“She’s No. 10 — she’s ranked above me — and is a very experienced fighter, Lemos said of Waterson, who enters having lost three of her last four appearances. “She moves a lot, and she comes from karate, so she uses a lot of her legs. It will definitely be an exciting matchup for the fans.”

And Lemos intends to do everything in her power to ensure the fans come away from Saturday’s penultimate pairing thoroughly entertained.

“She likes to leave it to the judges most of the time,” she said of Waterson, whose last four victories and last eight appearances have all gone the distance. “I don’t — I like to finish fights — so I trained a lot to stop her game; to keep her from scoring points throughout the rounds and finish her.”

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The matchup with Andrade in April was an opportunity for Lemos to potentially vault into the title conversation by beating a former champion, but things didn’t go the way she had hoped.

That being said, it was a great learning experience — a chance to share the Octagon with someone that has reached the division’s summit and to feel what it’s like to be in there with a fighter of that caliber — and with a victory over Waterson on Saturday afternoon on ABC, Lemos hopes to get another opportunity to stand across the cage from one of the top names in the strawweight ranks once more before the year is out.

Amanda Lemos comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 31

Amanda Lemos comemora a vitória no UFC Vegas 31. (Foto por Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“It just gave me motivation, more will power — more willingness to train harder, eat better,” she said when asked how the loss to Andrade influenced her preparations for this weekend’s clash with Waterson.

“I want to get back in there before the year ends, I want to stay active, but right now, my focus is on Michelle. Winning this fight is all I’m focused on right now; it’s all I think about. It’s really important for me to get back into the win column, get back to beating the best fighters in my division.

“But after this weekend, we’ll definitely look into getting back into the Octagon as quickly as possible.”

UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs Rodriguez, took place live from the UBS Arena in Long Island, New York on July 16, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC FIGHT PASS