Dane White’s Contender Series standout Tracy Cortez gets past Vanessa Melo in emotional debut at UFC Sao Paulo.
Tracy Cortez, an Invicta FC standout who won her way into the UFC on Dana White’s Contender Series back in July, was making her promotional debut Saturday at UFC Sao Paulo. Cortez, a 25-year-old who had not lost since her pro debut, was opening up the Brazilian Fight Night card against Vanessa Melo, who had lost her own promotional debut in September.
Adding a bit of last-minute drama to the affair, Melo and Cortez were initially deemed to have missed weight for the fight. However, since they both missed by equal amounts, the fight was allowed to continue at a catchweight with no fine to either fighter. Then, the Brazilian commission CABMMA ruled that the scale used at the official weigh-ins was off, and both fighters had actually hit the bantamweight limit.
Either way, Melo and Cortez were set to throw down Saturday for three rounds or less.
Both fighters got right at it and opened the action throwing hard shots. Cortez mixed in legs kicks while Melo stood in the pocket and fired off punches. The Brazilian won the early exchanges until the Arizona native began to find her range and attacked with varied striking combinations. Her body kicks and jab were effective at keeping ‘Miss Simpatia’ at range. The Dana White’s Contender Series alum was able to win the round by using her speed advantage to attack and then slide out of range.
CageSide Press scored the round 10-9 Cortez.
Cortez looked for a takedown to start the action. She wasn’t able to get Melo down but did back her against the cage where the American worked the body and legs with knees. The Fight Ready export grabbed the legs once again and took Melo down. She was unable to keep the Brazilian down, who quickly worked back up. Cortez was relentless with the pressure and kept Melo pinned against the cage. She dumped Melo on her butt once again but the Brazilian worked back to the feet with Cortez hanging on her until the round ended.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 Cortez.
Melo came out aggressive to start the round and got hit with some big shots. Melo made the mistake of throwing a body kick, which the American caught, taking Melo down to the canvas. She peppered Melo with some short elbows from Melo’s closed guard. The remainder of the fight saw Cortez keep heavy top pressure with active ground and pound. She began to really tee off on the grounded Melo as the round and fight came to an end.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-8 and the fight 30-26 Cortez.
Official Results: Tracy Cortez def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Cortez moved to 1-0 in the UFC while Melo fell to 0-2 inside the Octagon. During her post-fight Octagon interview with Michael Bisping, Cortez got visibly emotional as she said her win was for her late mother and brother.