Editor Note: This article was published prior to the UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson event change. Nate Diaz will now fight Tony Ferguson in the main event, Khamzat Chimaev will fight Kevin Holland in a catchweight (180) co-main event and Li Jingliang will fight Daniel Rodriguez in a catchweight (180) bout. | Order UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson
Like much of the American West, Las Vegas is in the midst of being beaten down by a historic heat wave. Even in the land where triple digit temperatures are the norm, the weather leading up to, and including, UFC 279 fight week has felt nothing short of oppressive, even for the locals. Norma Dumont seems to be the outlier who is actually enjoying it.
“I like the weather,” she insists. “I feel great. I just love fighting here…the people, the whole structure here. I feel at home in Las Vegas.”
It’s a long way from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, the city where she resides. But it’s undeniable that “The Fight Capital of the World” has been good to her. She built a three-fight win streak here, and her two UFC losses—the only two of her professional career--have come when she ventured elsewhere in the States.
Most recently it was Phoenix, where Macy Chiasson snapped Dumont’s streak with a razor-close split decision. If she carries any bitterness, though, it’s not evident.
“That fight could have gone either way. Macy used the strategy that was available, but she’s definitely not better than me. I know that and so does she. We’ll see each other again.”
Armchair critics suggest Dumont can be too calm in her bouts and that an increase in urgency could make her a distinct problem for other featherweights. Those perceptions, right or wrong, are part of what she worked on for her matchup Saturday with Danyelle Wolf that headlines the early prelims of UFC 279: Chimaev vs Diaz.
“I know it’s not easy to fight me. They won’t be able to stop me anymore. That’s the goal.
“We’ve fixed some things like putting more pressure, not minding the referee’s interruptions. I was able to work more on that, to put more pressure and not leave it in the hands of the judges. That’s what we’ll bring, what we've trained in this camp, and what we’ll implement in this fight.”
This fight, against the aforementioned Wolf, is a little different than the matchups she’s used to. At age 39, Wolf has only one MMA fight on her record: her contract-winning performance on Dana White’s Contender Series. Still, the three-time Team USA National boxing champion is no stranger to combat sports, and her wares were enough to convince Dana White she had what it takes.
“I respect Danyelle a lot,” says Dumont. “She doesn’t have a lot of MMA fights, but she has boxing experience.
“We've focused on her strengths in our camp, but her game has holes, as well, and that’s what we always try to exploit. We’ll always work wherever my opponent feels uncomfortable. However, I also have a lot of striking fights, so that’s my specialty. I have around 30 striking fights, so that doesn’t really scare me. I’m aware of the dangers.”
Before she took up MMA, Dumont earned her blackbelt in Sanda, racking up six state titles and one national title in Brazil along the way. If you’ve watched Dumont in the past, you’ve already seen the influence in her game.
“I like to strike. That’s what I enjoy the most. But this is MMA. I also like jiu-jitsu. I’m a brown belt, so if I have to take her to deep waters, I’ll do it.”
She’ll do anything to get that win streak going again, and once she does, she’s open to whatever the future holds for her, in whatever division that might be.
“Wherever the UFC sends me, I’ll be there. If they ask me to go down to 135 or to fight for the belt at 145, we’ll do it. And that’s it. I’d rather wait and see. I used to have too many expectations and then it wouldn't really happen, so let’s just fight and let the UFC decide what to do with the division and to which division I should go to.”
For now, it’s the bright lights of Las Vegas and welcoming a newcomer to the big time. Her second straight Pay Per View. Her second straight fight in front of the crowd.
“I personally like it towards the end, when you have the crowd behind you,” she explains. Despite winning three in a row at the UFC APEX, “You get the feeling you have a lot of people cheering and celebrating with you. I like and I miss the crowd.”
And the only thing sweeter than a crowd celebrating with her would be a home crowd celebrating with her, a joy she hasn’t experienced in her UFC tenure.
“Definitely. It’s my dream to fight in Brazil and have the crowd behind us on fight night. Once I win this fight, you'll hear a callout inside the Octagon and maybe the UFC matchmakers will grant me this wish.”