Ever evolving Claudia Gadelha makes her Invicta FC debut July 13th, at Invicta FC 6 against fellow world traveler, Japanese standout Ayaka Hamasaki.
Believing that the key to continued success in MMA depends upon the evolution of your skills, Gadelha takes advantage of the talent present on her team, famed Nova Uniao. A lover of martial arts since she was a teenager, Gadelha will need every aspect of her game to defeat current JEWELS champion, Ayaka Hamasaki on July 13th.
Corey Smith: How did you first get started in the world of martial arts? How did it advance from there?
Claudia Gadelha: When I was younger I was always interested in martial arts but my parents would not let me train. I started working out at 14 years old; I used to cut class just to go to the gym. Then when I was 16 I went to an MMA event in my city, Mossoró and that’s where I met Jair Lourenço(head coach at Nova Uniao in Natal.)
CG: He invited me to come to Natal and to train in his academy. At that event they had 2 women fighting and after watching I knew I wanted to fight. From there I started training Jiu Jitsu 3 or 4 times per day, then competing every weekend. After winning a lot of championships I had my first MMA fight at 18 years old.
CS: Brazil is known as the birth place of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the homeland of the famed Gracie family. What is the MMA community like in Brazil?
CG: With the presence of the UFC here now in Brasil, MMA is exploding and growing faster than ever.
CS: You currently train with Nova Uniao, with among others world champion Jose Aldo. How many women currently train with the team? What does being around that kind of talent level do for your overall game?
CG: Well, there are only 3 women on the team, including myself. Having this kind of world class talent around me on a daily basis is truly a blessing. Training with these guys I learn what it takes to be a champion, not just physically but the mental aspect as well, and how to carry myself like a true professional.
CS: Training camp injuries have been an issue for you in the past, and in general in MMA. How do you manage to maintain a full fight camp but also minimize training injuries?
CG: When playing a sport like MMA injuries are very normal, especially when training and fighting at a high level. At Nova Uniao we train smart and that is important to staying healthy. I have learned to listen to my body and that has helped tremendously.
CS: You are currently undefeated with a record of 9-0. If you were to self-critique your career so far, what would you say has been your biggest area of improvement?
CG: I think that I am just trying to evolve with the sport. When I started MMA I was mainly a Jiu Jitsu fighter, but as time has gone on I have tried to evolve into a more complete fighter and I am working hard everyday to keep evolving. The level in woman’s MMA in getting so high and being able to evolve is such an important factor.
CS: This will be your first fight in the United States, and also for Invicta FC. How has your experience been like so far with the company? Are you anticipating any added difficulties with travelling to the United States?
CG: Working with Invicta thus far has been an absolute pleasure, it is so great to be apart of an all female organization like Invicta. I am very excited to fight in America. I know the crowd and people really love MMA and I am excited for this opportunity. It won’t be a problem for me traveling to the USA to fight. I lived in Texas, have traveled there to fight Jiu Jitsu and other things, so I am used to these things.
CS: You were originally slated to face Joanne Calderwood at Invicta FC 6, until an injury to Invicta champion Carla Esparza led to you now facing current JEWELS champion Ayaka Hamasaki. What are your thoughts on the opponent change? What are the differences in preparation for Hamasaki vs. Calderwood?
CG: Opponent change is something I am used to by now, this has happened with me quite often in my career. The difference in their two styles has been the main thing, Joanne a striker and Hamasaki a grappler. My training has remained pretty much the same with the exception of sparring. I went from sparring with top strikers to sparring with people looking to take me down. People to mimic the game of Hamasaki.
CS: The bout will also likely determine the next number one contender. Does that entail any added pressure going into the match?
CG: No, I don’t feel any added pressure. I am doing everything I need to be prepared physically as well as mentally.
CS: What is your mindset like on the night of the fight? Are there any superstitions or routines that you perform?
CG: I keep a calm mind and maintain my focus. I don’t have any kind routine or traditions, I take things as they come and listen to my music.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of instruction do you like to receive from your coaches?
CG: I usually bring Renan Barao with me, he is a very experienced fighter/current UFC champion and close friend. He really knows my game and how to support me with the weight cut, the fight and everything that goes along with it. It’s a blessing to have such an experienced corner man.
CS: Outside of the cage, what types of activities do you enjoy? What helps you to mentally recharge during training camp?
CG: I love to spend time with my family in Mossoró. I love riding motorcycles. And I love anything that makes me laugh; laughter is the best medicine to recharge me during my fight camp.
CS: MMA is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. Who would you like to thank?
CG: First off I have to thank God for giving the body and mindset it take to play this sport. And my family for supporting me always.
CG: Andre Pederneiras, Jair Lourenço, Alessandro Gelke and all my sponsors.
CG: And my fiancée for always being patient with me and being by my side.