Seven days after the women’s strawweight title changes hands, the UFC introduces another exciting addition to the 115 pound roster. In case she hasn’t stumbled onto your radar, you may want to continue reading.
From Judogi to 4oz Gloves
On Saturday night, 27 year-old Luana Pinheiro (8-1) will make her UFC debut against Randa “Quiet Storm” Markos (10-10-1 MMA, 6-9-1 UFC). The Contender Series alum earned her UFC contract in November of last year with a knockout win over Stephanie Frausto.
A lifelong student of the mats, Pinheiro began training Judo with her father when she was only 2 years-old. Twenty five years and several colors later, Luana is now a judo black belt, and brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. After making the crossover to MMA, Luana drew inspiration from fellow female judoka, and pioneer of women’s MMA, Ronda Rousey. Despite her impressive grappling credentials, the Brazilian newcomer has remained committed to sharpening the other tools at her disposal. In fact, Pinheiro’s last two wins came by way of KO in the first round.
Will the Tide Rise to the Occasion?
The tested veteran Markos will so far be the most experienced opponent to stand across the cage from Pinheiro. Sporting a significant experience advantage, the Canadian has shared the octagon with some of the best in the division. Markos’ resume includes wins against Ashley Yoder, Angela Hill, and Carla Esparza, and a draw with Marina Rodriguez. Now on a 3-fight skid, Markos’ career could be on the ropes as she aims to get back on track with a win over the lesser experienced Pinheiro.
Pinheiro’s debut will take place at the UFC Apex, in a cage that is becoming increasingly familiar. This is where Pinehiro last competed, and again where she corned her partner Matheus Nicolau in his UFC return. Matheus will now reciprocate that support as the two become the latest couple to compete together under the UFC banner.
Inspired by one Ronda while striving to defeat another, Luana may find herself becoming the next source of influence for women’s MMA. Tune into the prelims this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Procházka at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN+ to watch Pinheiro live in action.