On the way to the UFC, fighters often look to who came before them for inspiration, that extra push to get them from the regional scene to the big show.
Norma Dumont looked a lot closer to home.
“My father abandoned my mother and his three daughters when I was just four years old,” she said. “Even so, my mother won in life and supported us alone, but with determination.”
That determination has brought Dumont here, to the pinnacle of the sport, and on Saturday, she makes her UFC debut against Megan Anderson.
It’s a journey that has taken the unbeaten 29-year-old just four professional MMA fights, but that started long before she put four-ounce gloves on.
“I have always been in sports since I was young,” Dumont said. “I was good in football, volleyball and fighting.”
She was also good in something not usually associated with Brazil – the Chinese art of Sanda.
“It is not yet well known in Brazil,” said Dumont. “I went to this sport because of a friend who already practiced it. When I saw that it was a complete game of striking and takedowns, I was amazed.”
And she was hooked – so much so that she went on to earn a black belt and with six State titles and one National crown. It also gave her the base she needed to be successful in MMA, but that’s getting ahead of things. Before Dumont turned pro in MMA in 2016, there was a long break when fighting was the last thing on her mind because of school and the work needed to help her family.
“When I stopped, I had no option; I had to study and work,” she recalls. “I left home at 7am and returned at 11pm. But over time, things started to adjust and I managed to get back to practicing what I love. The thing I missed the most was that adrenaline rush to compete; I like it very much. When I started training again, after two months I did my first Sanda fight. I haven't stopped since.”
Now we’re back to the present, where the 4-0 Belo Horizonte native is about to make her UFC debut against a former Invicta FC champion who has a huge edge in big show experience. Dumont isn’t concerned in the slightest. She’s ready for this.
“I knew I was going to enter the UFC, but I expected to have to do at least two more fights,” she said. “But I come from big national events, and my four fights were very important in getting this contract.”
As for Anderson…
“I trained my whole life to beat anyone; I don't see Megan as a top athlete,” said Dumont.
Bold words, but you don’t want to hear a fighter acting timidly before the biggest fight of her career. It may be even bigger for Dumont than most, because in a women’s featherweight division still in its early stages in the UFC, a win or two could put her in position to challenge Amanda Nunes for the title. But that’s a discussion for another day as far as Dumont is concerned.
“I think of each fight as the main one of my life,” she said. “At the moment, I think about beating Megan. So, I would like to do two or three more fights before a title fight. I want to prove to the public that they must believe in me for a title shot. I’m a very strong female athlete with a high technical level. And, of course, I go to a war and deliver give everything of myself, just like every Brazilian that goes to the Octagon.”
One person Dumont doesn’t have to prove anything to is her mom. She knows the fighter she raised
“In the beginning, my mother was a little afraid of the real chances of an athlete being successful in Brazil,” said Dumont. “But today, she understands the profession and supports me a lot.”
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