After an impressive run of seven wins in 35 months, including stoppages of Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Marina Rodriguez, Amanda Lemos has earned a shot at the UFC strawweight title. She will face Zhang Weili at UFC 292 on Aug. 19, and Lemos is determined to secure a definitive victory.
Despite acknowledging Zhang’s explosiveness and finishing ability, Lemos is confident that she and her team have developed a strong strategy to come out on top. “We’ll set the octagon on fire,” she said, “and I’m sure I’ll leave the cage with the belt.”
Lemos was surprised to land the fight in Boston, following months of speculation about a potential UFC show in China headlined by Zhang. However, Lemos insists that she is prepared for the challenge and ready to make history. “She wants her belt, I want that belt for me,” she stated, “so it definitely won’t be left in the hands of the judges.”
Since joining the UFC in 2019, Lemos has scored finishes in five of her seven victories, including first-round stoppages over Montserrat Ruiz, Livinha Souza, and Miranda Granger. On the other hand, Zhang has the same 7-2 octagon record with four finishes but has taken down higher-ranked foes in Carla Esparza, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Andrade, and Jessica Aguilar.
Lemos is evolving in each training session and feels confident as a result. “I’m sharpening my tools in all areas,” she said, “I have a new jiu-jitsu coach, and he’s badass. I’m learning new tricks I can’t wait to put in practice. It’s either a knockout or a submission; that’s what I’m coming after on August 19.”
This shot at UFC gold comes seven years after Lemos quit the sport due to a lack of opportunities as Jungle Fight champion. After working as a motorcycle taxi driver in Belem, Lemos only returned to MMA when her manager Wallid Ismail called with a short-notice UFC opportunity against Leslie Smith.
Despite being out of training for months and sustaining an injury in the lead-up to the fight, Lemos still agreed to the opportunity and was only defeated via second-round TKO. Following her defeat, she was suspended for two years by USADA and underwent surgery to treat a serious spine injury. She only returned to the octagon in late 2019.