It was one of the great fights of 2022, but very few saw it coming.
When Iasmin Lucindo was scheduled to face Yazmin Jauregui at UFC San Diego last August, many folks scratched their heads as to why two fighters—ages 20 and 23, respectively—were scheduled to make their promotional debuts on the main card of such a big event. But by the final horn of the third round, all questions had been emphatically answered and the only sound was chanting, cheering and applause.
Octagonside analyst Michael Bisping lamented that someone would have to lose such an epic battle, while his colleague Daniel Cormier countered, "They're both going to be ranked (someday) and they'll have already experienced a high-level fighter in their debut." Indeed, it was like looking into a portal that showed the future.
“I gave it all right there in the fight,” she told UFC Brazil.
Lucindo didn’t leave the Octagon with her hand raised, but she left with the respect of everyone at Pechanga Arena, not the least of which was UFC President Dana White. After being seen given both women a standing ovation after the second round, he went over and met Lucindo as she exited the Octagon after the scorecards were read.
WATCH IT ON FIGHT PASS: Yazmin Jauregui vs Iasmin Lucindo
“I was very nervous, but I remember him saying that it was a good fight, that he enjoyed watching it, and that he hoped I would be back as soon as possible.”
Everyone who watched had the same hope, including Lucindo, but sometimes things just don’t align as quickly as we’d like.
“I came home and then I thought about how long I would fight again. It was almost eight months for that, but it was good. I was able to understand the greatness of it all and focus on training.”
The wait comes to an end this Saturday when she’ll see her second straight—and well deserved—main card slot at UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs Blaydes.
Her original opponent for this Saturday, Melissa Martinez, was forced to withdraw due to injury. Brogan Walker, a recent finalist of The Ultimate Fighter, stepped in to replace her. The change means the bout will now be contested at flyweight, a weight class to which she is no stranger, having competed at 125 pounds in promotions like Samurai Fight House, Cage FS and NFC. In fact, her UFC debut was her first time at strawweight in several years, and she has wondered if the extra weight cut might have played into her loss to Jauregui. But she doesn’t bother herself much with the past. Her mind is firmly on Walker.
“Brogan is more of a mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu fighter. She is a very tough athlete, who came from TUF, and has a game that I like.”
Although coming up short in the finale of TUF, Walker spent the entirety of Season 30 demonstrating why she’s dangerous. It won’t be a walk in the park for Lucindo’s second UFC outing.
“She is aggressive and I like to be in a war in the cage. The fight will be entertaining, and I will try to surprise her.”
Surprising people is something Lucindo seems to excel at, whether it’s Dana White, the audience in San Diego or UFC fight fans that were lucky enough to tune in for that debut brawl. The surprise is compounded when you realize the Brazilian just turned 21 in January. The road ahead looks particularly bright, or as commentator Brendan Fitzgerald remarked at the conclusion of her debut: “The present and future of the division.”