Juliana de Lima Carneiro, or as she is more popularly known, Ju Thai, looks to make the transition from feisty prospect to contender when she faces off against Finland’s Katja Kakaanpaa on April 5that Invicta FC 5.
Known primarily as a striker, Ju Thai is looking to show off a complete MMA repertoire while stamping her name in the minds of every Invicta FC fan. A perfect 5-0 record will be on the line as she debuts in the United States on April 5th.
Corey Smith: How did you enter into the world of MMA? What discipline did you first start training?
Ju Thai: I started to train Muay Thai 10 years ago, and then I started fighting professional Muay Thai 5 years ago. I have 10 fights and 9 wins. I transitioned to MMA and stated training all disciplines
CS: What is your favorite aspect of MMA to train? And what aspect takes more motivation?
JT: I love all aspects of MMA, there is not one aspect of training that takes more motivation for me. Everything I do in training is a piece of my pursuit of a dream come true, which is already becoming a reality!
CS: Until recently, Brazil did not have much of an amateur MMA circuit. Do you think amateur events help to build a high level MMA athlete?
JT: Yes, we have many amateur events in Brazil now. I think it is very important that the athlete has this experience before getting into the professional ranks.
CS: What stands out in the MMA community in Brazil? Are there other countries in South America where MMA is popular?
JT: MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, MMA is getting big in Chile, Peru and Argentina.
JT: Today MMA is popular everywhere in the world and we can not forget that it all started in Brazil. I am honored to have been born in the country which was the cradle of all that is happening with the sport today.
CS: Where do you train in Brazil? Is it difficult to find training partners in your weight class?
JT: I train in one of the largest schools in the world that is Gracie Barra. Our leader is the legendary Vinicius Draculino. I do my training in Muay Thai with the school’s world champion, Thai master Olímpio Cunha. I do my wrestling with the Brazilian national team coach and I train with the boys, and I have several sparring partners around 135 pounds.
CS: Most consider you to be primarily a striker. Do you consider yourself a striker? Or have you not had much need to showcase your ground game?
JT: My source is Muay Thai, but today I consider myself an MMA fighter. I feel comfortable in wrestling and Jiu Jitsu, so today I consider myself a complete fighter.
CS: How did the nickname “Ju Thai” come about?
JT: It was when I had a Muay Thai fight with a girl who had the same last name as mine. I was fighting in her city, so I needed to change my name and owner of the event decided to dub me Ju Thai. Since then people started calling me Ju Thai!
CS: This will be your first fight in the United States. What are you most looking forward to fighting in the US for the first time?
JT: I’m so excited, I will leave my name engraved in the head of everyone who is present that evening. It will be unforgettable for me to fight in front of America.
CS: This will also be your first fight under the Invicta banner, what has your experience been like with the company so far?
JT: I’m very happy to be in the biggest women’s promotion in the world! It is the dream of every girl who fights to be here. I feel like I deserve to be at this show because I have fought tough girls and always put on a good show. I want to thank my manager Chris Vender and leader Vinicius Draculino for getting me here!
CS: Your opponent on April 5th, Katja Kakaanpaa is also fighting in the US for the first time. Are there any concerns fighting in a foreign country?
JT: This is my job like any other, and I’m very focused and centered. I already went to Lebanon to fight, and I went through all the stress of a long journey. Unfortunately the fight did not occur because the girl was 7 pounds overweight, but I consider it a very important experience. I do not think this fight in America is going to influence my psychological state at all. It is very strong! As for my opponent I do not think of her, I just think of myself, I’m focused on me.
CS: What can the fans expect from you and your opponent at Invicta FC 5?
JT: It will be a very interesting fight, On my part you can expect a lot of aggressiveness and technique. You can be sure it will be a show! I’m training like never before, and I’ve never been as strong. Adding that to my will, my faith and my claws, you can expect a war.
CS: What is your mood like leading up to fight night?
JT: A happy girl, ready to do everything we have trained for 10 years!
CS: Do you have any superstitions or routines that you perform on fight day?
JT: On the day of the fight I’m 100% concentrated, and praying.
CS: When you aren’t in the gym or cage, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun?
JT: I like watching movies, cooking and being with my family. I also like to go hiking and finding waterfalls.
CS: Lastly, MMA is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. Who would you like to thank?
JT: I would like to thank my manager Chris Vender for believing in me. Vinicius Draculino, my coach at Gracie Barra. Uirapuru Marcelo. My coaches Joel Lage, Luiz Otavio. My Sports Psychologist Dante, and Breno Faria my doctor. My dietitian Karine Paratela, and my Physical Trainer, Bruno Formiga.
My teammates at GBBH, mainly to Bad Boy, Baiano Toninho, Josi, Hamster and Richard.
To my sponsors Banco BMG, Stratus, Choke Kimonos, Vida Natural and Dr. Joseph Taverni. Thanks to all! Without you none of this would be happening in my life!