Bethe Correia has only won once since having her undefeated MMA record shattered by Ronda Rousey in 2015. Yet, she’s confident that her popularity and aggressive style will keep her safe in the UFC.
The Brazilian bantamweight re-enters the Octagon at Saturday’s UFC Mexico City looking to snap a three-fight winless skid against Sijara Eubanks. Despite being 1-4-1 over the last four years, “Pitbull” looks at her recent run under a “positive” scope.
“That made me more experienced, made me think more about my professional career,” Correia told MMA Fighting. “I have to see that as experience.”
Correia has dealt with more lows than highs since losing to then-champion Rousey in Brazil. A close decision win over Jessica Eye is sandwiched between defeats to Raquel Pennington, Holly Holm and Irene Aldana and a draw with Marion Reneau, and multiple eye surgeries gave her the longest break of her seven-year long career.
Still, “Pitbull” doesn’t think her job is on the line in Mexico.
“Look, the UFC is a mysterious,” Correia said with a laugh. “The UFC loves athletes that draw crowds and give everything they got in the fight. If you put on a fight that fans love, (the UFC) won’t put you out. It’s not the result, it’s how you fight. This is how I think.
“There are many factors involved, deals, managers, and sometimes things don’t match. That’s life. But I’ve always been happy to be in the UFC. There’s no place else I would like to be. I’m in the UFC since 2013, I was one of the first women to enter the promotion, and I think they like fighters that put it all on the line more than anything.”
After coming in at 141 pounds for a bantamweight clash with Aldana at UFC 237 and losing via third-round submission to Aldana, Correia made weight in Mexico City. To return to the winning column, she decided to get back to basics.
“I was trying too much, wanted to be perfectionist, and it went wrong,” Correia said. “Do the basics, do the right thing. When you look for the little mistakes, it doesn’t work. Do the day-to-day basics because that’s what works.”
One thing that still bothers the popular Brazilian is criticism. Correia drew a lot of attention leading up to her championship bout with Rousey at UFC 190, and a 34-second loss followed by defeats didn’t do her any favors. When she couldn’t follow up with wins, she felt under attack online.
“People want us to be machines, to be robots,” Correia said. “They want us to have no feelings, to be always motivated, always ready. We can’t be tired. We can’t make mistakes. We have to win all the time. It can’t be that way. They are always demanding but never supporting. We have no sponsors, no support, but they still demand you to be there in perfect conditions. It’s complicated.”
Her career moment isn’t perfect, but fighting in Mexico has been a longtime dream for Correia. She believes she will have the crowd on her side come Saturday night due to her aggressive style, and promises an all-action fight that Mexican fans will approve.
Eubanks (4-3), who has less experience in terms of cage fighting, is looking to regain momentum after a loss to Aspen Ladd snapped a streak that included wins over Lauren Murphy and Roxanne Modafferi.
“She did well on The Ultimate Fighter and had good fights in the UFC,” Correia said of Eubanks. “She likes to trade hands, so we can put on a fight that the crowd and the UFC will love. It’s hard to fight girls that just want to stall, it’s hard to actually fight when your opponent doesn’t want to fight, but I don’t think that’s her style.”
After facing many different type of opponents throughout her UFC career, from decorate grapplers to experienced strikes, Correia doesn’t think Eubanks brings an unique challenge to the table in Mexico.
“Based on what I’ve seen, no, because I’ve been through a lot of things,” Correia said. “I’ve had so many training camps for jiu-jitsu girls, boxers, tall girls, short girls… Anything can happen in a fight, maybe she brings something I haven’t seen before, but I’ve been training a lot. Anything can happen. She might bring something, but so can I. It’s a mystery. We’ll see how this fight goes.”
“I would really like to finish her. I want to,” she added. “If it’s on the ground, great. If it’s on the feet, great. What’s really important to me is putting on a good fight and winning.”