When Tamires Vidal was growing up, her dream was to become a soccer player, a firefighter or a UFC fighter. She told her mother as much, but Vidal recalls the reception as skeptical at best.
“She laughed at me and said I wasn’t going to make it, that I needed to have the same job she had, collecting garbage,” Vidal told UFC.com. “I started crying because I was very young, but I kept my head up and showed her I can do it.”
Vidal looks on her road to the UFC fondly. She worked as a bricklayer’s assistant, a fact in which she takes plenty of pride, calling it “honest work.” Her motivation to achieve her dreams never wavered.
After training at what she described as a “social project,” someone introduced Vidal to Márcio Panda and Team Brothers in Niterói. There, she found the home she was looking for to launch her MMA career.
“He welcomed me, believed in me, and asked me if I really wanted to fight,” Vidal said. “I told him in a very composed way that I did. He’s supported me since day one and welcomed me as if I were his daughter. That’s just priceless.”
As Vidal prepared for her first amateur fight, she found out someone on the same card fell out of their matchup. Panda asked if Vidal wanted to step up, but the catch was that the fight was a professional one. With no experience, Vidal turned pro and earned a victory.
The 24-year-old oozes confidence and has a fun nickname, to boot, which she picked up while playing soccer. “Tratora” translates to “tractor” in English, fitting for her bulldozing demeanor she had while playing footy with men in Brazil.
“Sometimes I’d fall and get up quickly and they’d stay down,” she said. “That’s how I got the nickname ‘Tratora’, because I’d run over the guys.”
For her first trip to the Octagon, Vidal faces Ramona Pascual, who is searching for her first UFC victory in her third attempt.
While that might translate to a version of Pascual fighting with some particularly dangerous desperation, Vidal isn’t as concerned about what her opponent brings to the table as she is about just performing to the best of her ability.
“I don’t expect anything from anybody,” Vidal said. “She's here to fight, and so am I. Inside the Octagon it’s all business. After that, there’s respect and that’s it.”
When asked who her heroes in the sport are, she lights up and cites the Brazilian greats: Anderson Silva, José Aldo and Charles Oliveira.
She remembers feelings nerves before meeting Aldo in person, but she relished the chance to see someone in a place she saw herself making it to in the future.
Now is her turn to carve out a legacy for herself. Vidal comes into UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Lemos on a five-fight winning streak, and she knows this is just the beginning of her journey – the first dream achieved of what she hopes is many.
“I’m here because I deserve it,” Vidal said. “It hasn’t been an easy road. So, I’m here to build my name and leave a mark on my story. I have a wonderful team by my side. Regardless of the outcome, I know they’ll be on my side through thick and thin, and that’s very important to me.
“I want them to know who ‘Tratora’ really is. I want to be an inspiration to a lot of people and show they can make it. You just have to believe and persist.”
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Lemos took place live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 5, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!