Cachoeira excited to rebound from disastrous UFC debut

Priscila Cachoeira lost her UFC debut to Valentina Shevchenko by second-round submission. Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Priscila Cachoeira stepped into the Octagon in Belem, Brazil, last February and was promptly dominated by Valentina Shevchenko, losing by second-round rear-naked choke in one of the most lopsided losses in UFC history. Shevchenko was coming off a bantamweight title fight against Amanda Nunes in which she lost via split decision; "Pedrita" was making her debut in UFC.

The result was so bad that referee Mario Yamasaki has not officiated since. Cachoeira, though, wasn't upset by his late stoppage.

"He was talking to me. He said 'Pedrita, if you don't move, I'll stop the fight,'" Cachoeira told espnW.com.br. "I looked at him and was like 'I'm good.' And I really was. Valentina's strikes were not going to knock me out. He did his job."

As a result of a knee injury she sustained 30 seconds into the fight, Cachoeira required surgery to repair meniscus and ACL tears. And if the six-month recovery weren't enough, she also contracted hemorrhagic dengue fever.

All of this leads her to Saturday night in London as she takes on Molly McCann.

But Cachoeira is a fighter, and not just in the cage.

"Pedrita" overcame a crack addiction early in life and took up Muay Thai. This ended up changing her life and putting her on a straight path. She went on to MMA and had her first amateur match in 2016. In the event called "Face to Face," she defeated Ana Costa.

"Something clicked when I won that fight," she said. "In the beginning, it was only a dream, but then I rolled up my sleeves. Then I had my first official fight against Cacau [Claudilene Costa] and won. Instantly, I wanted something bigger that could help me achieve my dream of coming to the UFC."

For the Shevchenko fight, "Pedrita" was aware the odds were stacked against her.

"I'm sure that if I had a good knee, the fight would've been different," Cachoeira said. "I would indeed be able to show my skills. But I wasn't counting on that. My knee blew out with 30 seconds left in the first round."

Cachoeira, now fully healthy, is ready to make a statement in the UFC. Despite the early loss, her matchup with McCann presents an intriguing opportunity to turn things around.

"She is going to feel my hand, try to take me down, but I'm well prepared for everything," she said. "On Saturday, make no mistake about it, you'll see the real Pedrita. I'll shut down everyone who didn't believe in me, people that don't know me and talked s---. This what I love to do most. To put on a show, giving fans what they want. Everybody will be on their feet."