Las Vegas, NV — Brazil’s Luana Santos made her promotional debut at UFC Vegas 78, and dominated TUF champ Juliana Miller.
Stopping Miller by TKO, Santos improved to 6-1 as a professional fighter. But her combat sports career goes back much further — she entered martial arts through Judo, and had a clear role model in now-retired UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
“I’ve always been a #1 fan, I’ve always looked up to her. I’ve always admired her career journey, her path from judo,” strawweight Santos said following her win at UFC Vegas 78, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I actually followed her back from judo, into MMA, as a source of inspiration. I’ve always wanted to do what she did, and everything she did for judo athletes and women’s MMA. So much that in Brazil, the events in Brazil, they used to call me the ‘Brazilian Ronda.’ She’s always been a source of inspiration, and she’s still a source of inspiration. I’m always going to look up to her.”
Current UFC athlete Irina Alekseeva is the “Russian Ronda,” now there’s a “Brazilian Ronda” as well. But it was a very un-Rousey like performance from Santos on Saturday, lighting Miller up on the feet.
“I visualized that a lot, I kind of manifested a lot, that I could do this, that my hand could get through, and I could do some damage,” she said of her performance. “My coaches too, they said ‘if you can connect, you can actually knock her down with your hands.’ I kept going at it, I kept visualizing, manifesting, and you saw the result.”
With her debut successful, Santos is now looking towards a fall return, possibly part of the UFC’s next visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“I want to take it easy, because I had a very hard camp. No opponent in mind, but if I could, maybe fight in Brazil in November. I think it would be a great opportunity to fight, I’ve always taken a lot of people to the fights, I’ve always actually brought in a crowd and I think I can bring double in the UFC, being in Sao Paulo too. But if I’m not able to fight in Sao Paulo, I’d like to fight before December.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 78 post-fight press conference with Luana Santos above.