Tereza Bleda has some mixed feelings about her experience on Dana White’s Contender Series. Despite securing a unanimous decision victory on a September episode of the show, she wasn’t granted a contract.
“I was really disappointed,” Bleda told UFC.com. “It was a hard time, but my coach said to me, ‘Just wait. You will be here,’ and I'm here.”
Before she learned of her short-notice opportunity to make an Octagon debut, Bleda poured herself even deeper into training.
Not only did she dedicate more concentrated time and effort into her gym work, but she also looked into the other aspects that make up the lifestyle of a professional athlete. She said the UFC Performance Institute was a big help, and she generally feels more prepared to step in and fight than she did previously.
“I was trying a little bit more after Contender (Series),” she said. “I was looking at the food, and the supplements, on the training more. And actually, I'm glad I didn't get the contract because it just took one month to get the contract, and I put more in the training and more in the food and everything.”
Now comes the actual business of fighting and, for Bleda, that means the business of winning. Perfect through six professional fights, Bleda oozes confidence.
She believes letting the fight go to the scorecards contributed to her not getting a contract on Contender Series, and in her UFC debut, she is all the more eager to find a finish. That said, she also wants to introduce herself to UFC fans in a proper way, something she thinks she needs time in order to show.
“I always want to finish the fight, especially in the first round,” she said. “But, I also want to show my skills, and I don't want to have an early finish because at least I want to show something.”
Facing Natalia Silva, Bleda thinks her advantages are in her overall strength, as well as the grappling department. That said, she mentioned she lets her coaches spend time thinking about how to best break down opponents. Her job is to take their instruction and execute the plan laid out for her on the night.
November 19 marks a major milestone on Bleda’s six-year journey to this point. The 20-year-old Bleda is the second youngest woman on the roster, and she knew from the moment she started training as a teenager that the UFC was not only the goal, but a real possibility.
“I fell in love in the sport, and I want to fight and be in the UFC and be the best,” she said. “Almost six years later and I'm here.”
In terms of goals, Bleda didn’t mention the usual desire of young fighters wanting to break Jon Jones’ record of youngest champion – something Bleda has about two more years to accomplish – but UFC gold is of course an aspiration.
Although making it to the UFC at such a young age was something she wanted, she dismisses its overall importance. She wants to have staying power, and she wants to climb the rankings. She takes pride in representing the Czech Republic, citing Jiri Prochazka’s epic title-winning effort at UFC 275 as something that shined a spotlight on the country’s MMA athletes.
Now it’s Bleda’s time to start her journey under the UFC banner. She is excited to show she belongs with the best in the world, but she understands that she has plenty of time to work her way through the growing flyweight division, as well.
She does have one lofty goal outside of a title, however – something that would certainly mean she made a definitive mark on the sport.
“I want to end my career undefeated,” she said.
UFC Fight Night: Nzechukwu vs Cutelaba took place live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 19, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!