Jacksonville, FL — Following UFC 261, Brazil’s Ariane Carnelossi will go down in the record books as the first UFC fighter to win with fans returning to the arena, after a yearlong absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The strawweight picked up her first win inside the octagon in the process, in a wild fight with Chinese newcomer Na Liang.
“She surprised me a little bit in the first round. We watched all of her fights before. We knew that she would always put pressure right away to try to get the takedown. But never have we seen her throw some punches right away, so that caught me off-guard a little bit,” Carnelossi (13-2) admitted following the fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “But I think we did a very good job there in the first round. I thought that if we had a few more seconds, we could have got the finish.”
Coming back out for the second round, however, Carnelossi said “I knew that she was done.”
The fans were hot right out of the gate, roaring through the opening minute of Carnelossi vs. Na. But Carnelossi, due to timing, is one of the few fighters to have really seen no difference.
“To be real honest with you, I didn’t get to fight without an audience. My last fight was about a year and a half ago,” she explained. “So I didn’t get to experience the pandemic events much. But for sure, having the people there giving you energy, it gives you an extra bump to go after it.”
After so much time away, “I’ve really got to make up for it. I know that I have the record right now, this is my ninth knockout, I know that I have done enough to justify fighting someone that is ranked.” Anyone on the lower end of the rankings would be fair, said Carnelossi, who is looking to stay active to make up for lost time.
For Carnelossi, being unable to bounce back from the first loss of her career last time out was tough — but had a silver lining.
“It was a rough first fight, especially the way it ended [due to a cut, against Angela Hill]. That already hurt a little bit Then I got booked soon after, but I got injured.” That led to a string of injuries. “The good thing is that I was able to train a lot, and improve on a lot of things that I knew that I had to work on. So I made the most out of the time. That’s the thing, I’ve got to look forward, and make up for the lost time.”
Watch the full UFC 261 post-fight press scrum with Ariane Carnelossi above.