Las Vegas, NV — The strawweight landscape has changed drastically since Claudia Gadelha vied for gold against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2016. Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade subsequently rose then fell as champions. China’s Weili Zhang now wears the belt — while Gadelha remains a fixture of the 115lb weight class.
This weekend at UFC 246, Gadelha returns against up-and-comer Alexa Grasso. Mexico’s Grasso is five years younger than the Brazilian, just entering her prime. At 31, Gadelha is far from over the hill, but her prime years are quickly coming to a close.
Gadelha has trained all over, with a number of top gyms: Nova Uniao, Jackson-Wink, Xtreme Couture. She’s been stateside for quite a while, but if she could bring anything with her, Gadelha said, it would be her home country’s cuisine.
“I wish you guys had Brazilian here food. Like South American steaks, even though I’m trying to go Vegan,” Gadelha told Cageside Press Thursday, at the UFC 246 media day. “Brazilian food in general, I wish you had here. I miss it a lot.”
Gadelha prides herself on clean eating, mind you. Training through the holidays was no big deal as a result. She’s entirely focused on her opponent ahead of this weekend’s PPV — and had watched Grasso’s most recent effort, against Carla Esparza, prior to Thursday’s media day.
Does she believe Grasso won that fight, a somewhat controversial majority decision awarded to Esparza? In a word, no. “Not at all. I watched that fight this morning actually. I’ve been watching that fight a lot. She won the third round, but the first two, I don’t think she won. Carla definitely beat her. Took her down, kept her on the ground most of the fight. She definitely won the third round, but first and second she lost.”
What makes Grasso dangerous, Gadelha said, is her heart, and hands. “She’s a good boxer. Good striker. She has a big heart. I think she’s going to come after me, and I’m ready for that. I can’t wait for that.”
Claudia Gadelha faces Alexa Grasso this Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The bout airs as part of the main card, available via PPV.