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Claudia Gadelha happy to fight in empty arena: ‘It’s like I’m playing Mortal Kombat’

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UFC strawweight Claudia Gadelha prefers to perform without a crowd.

It’s the first time in Claudia Gadelha’s 21-fight career where she will have to perform in an empty arena, but the former UFC strawweight contender might get used to the feeling.

Paired up against fellow contender and former Invicta FC champion Angela Hill, the 31-year-old says she prefers the calmer atmosphere of an empty venue. In Gadelha’s opinion, not having to deal with the fans pressure makes for a much lighter experience.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Claudia points out how the experience becomes entirely different without a crowd. The way Gadelha perceives it, it could be similar to playing a video game. Claudia even believes this could improve her performance, since she believes having less to deal with might make her more focused on the fight itself.

“My entire life I worked on my mindset to deal with the crowd,” Gadelha said. “I think not having a crowd will be an advantage. It’s a lighter environment and I’ll be more focused on what I have to do. The environment will be like I’m in a video game, it’s like I’m playing Mortal Kombat and left Japan to fight in China. What changes is the ability to deal with those changes.

“I’ve conquered this ability to adapt throughout my life.” Claudia continued. “I had to do it from an early age, when I moved from Mossoro to Natal, then from Natal to Rio de Janeiro, then from Rio to the United States. Those transitions and changes taught me not to stress about those things we can’t control. Those things did affect me, but I tried my best to stay strong, with the right mindset and always evolving.”

When it comes to the fight itself, Claudia believes she is ready for the challenge of taking on a fast-moving striker such as Hill. Although she was originally scheduled to take on Marina Rodriguez, Gadelha feels like she is ready to deal with the differences in their arsenals.

“They’re different fighters, but both are strikers,” Gadelha said. “Angela has been trying to get that Dominick Cruz thing going. Lots of footwork, switching stances and all that. But she’s a striker, like Marina. What changes is just some details on how I have to position myself. Marina would be better for me, because she’s higher-ranked at number 9. I think we were going to fight back in April, before the pandemic, but she asked for more time. I still hope the fight happens, I’m very interested in it.”

“I try to keep a positive mindset until the end of the fight, I try to think everything will turn out fine.” Claudia added. “I don’t want to lose to an unranked fighter. Speaking of levels, I think I’m more well-rounded than her. That’s why I’m taking this fight. I want a new title shot. I wanted someone above me, but if we can’t get one, we’ll go with the one we have.”

In her last outing, Claudia Gadelha (17-4) bested Randa Markos via unanimous decision, back in July 2019. Her last loss came right before that, when the 31-year-old dropped a unanimous decision to Nina Ansaroff in December 2018.

Gadelha vs. Hill co-headlines UFC on ESPN 8, in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 16. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a heavyweight bout between contenders Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris.