Brazil’s Viviane Araujo is one of MMA’s top prospects in the women’s flyweight division. The 32-year-old has only been in the UFC for just over two months, but she electrified in her debut—with a 3rd round KO of Talita Bernardo on short notice. And now, down a division, at 125 lbs, she’s picked up a solid win over former title contender Alexis Davis.
Her victory against Davis may not have been quite as decisive as her debut, but Araujo used her time in the cage to make a much more meaningful statement. Immediately after the fight, she got on the mic with a message. After thanking fans and coaches and family members for their support, she added a few words for women who have been victimized by violence.
“And I’d like to leave a message to all the women who are victims of violence,” Araujo said, still gasping to regain her breath from her fight. “At home, at work, on the streets, anywhere. I believe you, you are not alone. And we all have great power in us.”
Later, during her post fight media scrum, Araujo clarified her words somewhat with the help of a translator.
“Actually, in Brazil, all the women have a problem now,” her translator told the assembled press. “It’s a little bit dangerous, with a lot of killings and this kind of stuff. I told them that they can train MMA or martial arts, or whatever, and can defend yourselves.”
It’s an especially meaningful message to deliver from the platform the UFC offers, which has unfortunately, over the years, played host to a number of fighters convicted of violent crimes against women. And while the promotion has touted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for athletes who commit acts of domestic violence, their enforcement of it has been notably lax. Even to the point of allowing fighters to compete in the Octagon while awaiting hearings on charges of rape and assault.
Hopefully, fighters like Araujo can continue using their time in the cage to deliver a more positive image of mixed martial arts to the world.