CURITIBA, Brazil — Every professional athlete wants money and success, and going after that was what kept Invicta FC strawweight Kinberly Novaes under unnecessary pressure.
Novaes made her promotional debut in December, losing via decision to title contender Janaisa Morandin, and returns to the cage at Saturday’s Invicta FC 30 against UFC veteran Heather Clark. Going 0-2 could mean the end of her run in the promotion, but not thinking about anything other than fighting is her secret to success now.
“The pressure I had over me in my last fights came from other people asking me all the time when I was going to the UFC, when I was going to make money, putting those thoughts in my head,” Novaes told MMA Fighting. “I kind of put that as a life goal, that I had to make a living off of this, make money, be the best in the world, and was always under pressure. That was taking the pleasure of fighting away from me.”
“I got to a point last year that I decided to take that pressure away,” she continued. “I have my college degree in physical education and I teach classes, and I’m fighting because I love it. I do it for love, and now I can fight way better. I’d obviously love to make millions and make a living off of this [laughs], I won’t deny that, but it’s not my life goal now. I want to fight, have fun, come back, work, and live my life.”
Novaes graduated in physical education in 2013 and works as a personal trainer and Muay Thai trainer in Curitiba, Brazil, but was disappointed with the career when she realized that many of the women that contacted her for classes just wanted to become Instagram celebrities.
She woke up in the middle of the night with a new idea in mind: study pedagogy. Novaes signed up and has been studying for a while now. “I might never work in this area, but I started to think about education and understanding more and more about pedagogy and psychology,” she said.
The Invicta FC fighter became a mom a little over two years ago — she even made headlines in 2015 after fighting while pregnant in Brazil —, and having her son Breno changed her perspective of things.
“That’s another thing that played a huge part,” Novaes said. “The fact that I didn’t have proper education with I was a kid, learning how to read and write at home before I was 4, and getting sent to school when I was 5, I thought child education was useless, that I didn’t need that, but after I had a son I realized that’s not the case. I understood the purpose of it.”
“To say becoming a mom completely changes your life sounds cliche, but it’s true,” she continued. “Thank God I’m in a gym that has wonderful people who don’t bother listening to Lottie Dottie Chicken while training [laughs]. That’s tough, but also motivates me a lot.”
Novaes jokes that her son “is 1-0 in MMA already” after she scored a decision victory while 12 weeks pregnant, but she’s not sure if she has what it takes to watch him enter a cage on his own someday.
That’s a problem for the future, she jokes. For now, Novaes only focuses on earning her first victory under the Invicta FC banner against Clark.
“She uses a lot of front kicks to the face, works well in the clinch, but let’s say I haven’t seen anything spectacular in any area,” Novaes said. “I think Janaisa is tougher than her, for sure, but she has a name because she’s coming from the UFC. She’s a tough athlete, of course, has a different style, but I think the difference in my performance now is not the fact that she’s not as good as my previous opponent, but the fact that I’m way more prepared now than last time.
“I’m known as a striker, I’m always going there to strike, but I’ve been here at CM System for a few years, so I have been able to work on my takedowns and ground game. I always try the knockout, but I have my mind open now to fight in any area. I’ll be ready wherever the fight goes.”