Denise Gomes is rocking a close-cut, blonde hairstyle this week in São Paulo. She’s not the first nor will she be the last, especially in the Charles Oliveira’s hometown, but it was also out of necessity after an attempt to go platinum blonde “ruined” her hair. In a panic, she got a haircut, and now, Gomes is all good for her first fight in Brazil under the UFC banner.
Gomes is getting enough attention for her actual work in the Octagon, anyway. After dropping her UFC debut to Loma Lookboonmee, Gomes rattled off two wins in a row, both via TKO. Her most-recent outing, a 20-second finish of Yazmin Jauregui, was particularly impressive. With a trio of thunderous right hands, the 23-year-old Gomes folded her opponent and earned her first performance bonus. It was such a stunning effort that Gomes herself was taken aback.
Denise Gomes On The Come Up | UFC São Paulo
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Denise Gomes On The Come Up | UFC São Paulo
“To be honest, I didn't expect that,” Gomes told UFC.com. “I didn’t plan to get a knockout in 20 seconds. The plan was to execute that technique, but it was supposed to be in the second round. And it was perfect. Thank God I got it quickly and it was very exciting. When the fight ended, I felt that adrenaline rush.”
It appears as though Gomes has successfully put her debut disappointment well in the rear-view mirror. In hindsight, Gomes believes she let nerves get the best of her. That, in combination with the short-notice nature of the fight against the stalwart Lookboonmee, resulted in the loss.
It is a testament to Gomes’ work and focus, however, that she was able to come back with a couple impressive performances bouncing back from that.
“I think there’s something to learn in any situation,” she said. “That loss has helped me understand where I want to get. It’s not about fame, money, or ego. I simply want to be a good fighter. I want to go there and do great things, like I did in my last fight.”
She faces perhaps her toughest test yet at UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs Lewis in the form of wily veteran Angela Hill. The uber-experienced Hill is more than just a stepping stone for Gomes, as she represents a proper test of Gomes’ skills, particularly on the feet.
Gomes, for her part, isn’t getting too caught up in UFC’s most experienced strawweight. Instead, she is focusing on herself and how she wants to execute her gameplan – namely, keeping the fight at a pace and distance she prefers so she can seek a third consecutive finish.
Maintaining composure will be key with the whole arena behind her. When she imagines the walkout and the fight, she also mentions the pressure that comes with performing for the crowd, but that won’t shake the fact that she is going to drink in every bit of the atmosphere before getting down to business.
“The adrenaline rush will be crazy,” she said. “I'm going to enjoy every second, for sure. It’s a unique moment when a Brazilian fights in their home. My former coaches will be there. My first jiu-jitsu coach and the people who taught me my first Muay Thai moves. My former MMA coaches will be there, as well. Everyone that has been part of my journey. So many emotions, but I’ll control it during the fight so I can celebrate later with everyone that deserves it.”
The celebrations will last only so long, though. Her partner, UFC bantamweight Karol Rosa, has a Top 5 matchup against Irene Aldana at UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington. Gomes quips that she gets more nervous when Rosa fights, but she appreciates the help she gets with the small details from her.
The burgeoning strawweight contender hopes to launch herself toward the Top 15 of the deepest women’s division with a standout effort on November 4. Everything up to this point has been smooth, especially now that her hair-do is sorted out.
As the saying goes: look good, feel good, fight good.
“It’s been two, three days, and I’m loving it,” Gomes said. “One less thing to worry about. I’m sure any woman can relate.”