Jaqueline Amorim doesn’t think the pandemic caused her switch to MMA, but it certainly sped up the process.
From a young age, Amorim was fixated on grappling. Inspired by watching tapes of Royce Gracie and PRIDE with her father, Amorim began on a combat sports path at a young age. By 22, Amorim won IBJJF, UAEJJF and CBJJ championships.
It always was part of her plan to pivot to MMA at some point. But when the well of jiu-jitsu events ran dry due to COVID-19 postponements and cancellations, Amorim expedited her timeline.
“I always knew I wanted to do MMA,” Amorim recently told MMA Junkie. “When I was young, watching the fights with my dad, I always thought, ‘Oh, this is pretty cool.’ I was just waiting for the right time to go to the transition. I won World’s, Pans – I had my goals. I said, ‘When I reach these goals, I’m going to try MMA.’ I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I always thought it was pretty cool, like I was watching the UFC together with (my dad). I just wanted to pick the right time to do the transition.”
Born in Brazil, Amorim moved to Charlotte, N.C., in 2013 for training purposes – and to teach classes, too. Since then, Amorim dabbled in training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. In preparation for her upcoming fight Friday at LFA 125, Amorim made ATT her permanent home.
“I felt like I need the best training I can get right now because this is a really important fight for me,” Amorim said. “I’m actually doing my whole fight camp here. After this fight camp, I’m going to be a full part of the gym.”
All of her opponents know her background and the success she reached in the grappling world. Few want to go to the ground with her, which means, unsurprisingly, Amorim’s main focus has been her standup.
Although it was a more difficult pick-up than she expected, Amorim is happy with the strides she’s made in the standup. At LFA 110 in July, Amorim won by strikes for the first time – with a 10-second knockout of Megan Owen.
“I know I have good grappling, but it’s different to think you have good jiu-jitsu vs. when you actually have to do it MMA,” Amorim said. “It’s different. You need all kinds of different things. I always knew I’m a good grappler, but you need to have good striking and the right distance. I never thought it was going to be easy, but it’s way more hard than I thought. In MMA, you need everything. I’m improving the things I’m not (the best) at, like my striking, my wrestling. I think I’m doing better every day. I’m not perfect, but I’m working at what I’m not great at.”
MMA has grown to be such an international sport. Aspiring fighters no longer are confined to home country idols. While the likes of Brazil’s Demian Maia and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza inspired her on the come-up, so too did Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Although she takes it step-by-step, Amorim wants her name eventually to join her role models in the ranks of those who graced the UFC cage. Friday, Amorim (4-0) has the opportunity to move to 5-0 against Loveth Young (3-1-1) and win the LFA women’s strawweight title in the process.
An unofficial feeder league for the UFC, LFA could provide Amorim the stepping stone she needs to get the call from a major promotion. That’ll be the next step as she moves toward her ultimate goal of UFC gold.
“Right now, I just want to be the best fighter I can be and improve every area of my game,” Amorim said. “But of course, I want to be the champion one day. I know I have a lot of work to do. I always put in my head that I’m not just going to go into this sport and be like one more fighter. I really want to be the champion one day. That’s what I’m putting the work in for now.”
LFA 125 takes place Friday at Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara, N.Y. and streams on UFC Fight Pass.
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