Former LFA bantamweight champ Jacqueline Cavalcanti made her debut Saturday at UFC Paris, taking on Brazilian-born French fighter Zarah Fairn dos Santos.
Fairn, formerly competing as a featherweight, was faced with the spectre of women’s 145 being mothballed in the UFC, and had missed weight in her last two fights. She did make the catchweight 140lb limit for her fight with Cavalcanti, but 0-3 over her past three fights, her back was against the wall.
Santos was the aggressor early on putting Cavalcanti on her back foot. Not a lot from both was landing other than some outside leg kicks from Cavalcanti. Fairn was coming forward but wasn’t landing anything. Cavalcanti was landing but was committing on anything she was throwing. Cavalcanti did start to pick up the power with an outside leg kick and a few right hands. The best shot Santos landed in round one was an eye poke. A particularly nasty one, that had the doctor taking a close look at Cavalcanti. Luckily, she was able to continue. Not a lot of action to go off on in round one.
More leg kicks from Cavalcanti were landed into round two as Fairn was coming forward. Fairn continued to have problems finding her range with her hands. Cavalcanti did land a nice combination to the head and body. Cavalcanti wasn’t landing with any conviction but was accurate when she was throwing. Continued leg kicks from Cavalcanti was the story of the fight. She started to throw the right hand behind the kicks winning the second round clearly.
In the final round, Fairn was in need of a finish to win this fight. A hard outside leg kick was landed from Cavalcanti to start the round. Fairn landed a good leg kick of her own but ate one and a right hand from Cavalcanti in return. Cavalcanti throughout the fight was using good feints keeping Fairn from throwing much at all. Cavalcanti landed a barrage of punches in the clinch as Zarah Fairn dos Santos tried to rush in. Fairn tried for a takedown at the end of the round but Cavalcanti defended easily. Too little too late, and the scorecards were unanimously in favor of Jacqueline Cavalcanti.
Official Result: Jacqueline Cavalcanti def. Zarah Fairn dos Santos by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)