Ravena Oliveira is fighting for more than herself. That’s often the case for any combat athlete, but Oliveira’s emotions during her UFC debut fight week are all the more understandable when you hear her tell her story.
Her mother, Sandra, fell in love with the Rocky movies and passed that onto her daughter, which grew into a love for fighting. Ravena, who also took an interest in combat sports, wasn’t able to train at the gym in her hometown because they wouldn’t’ take any women. Oliveira eventually formed a relationship with one of her coaches and started training Muay Thai.
“Ever since I started training, I wanted to be the first female fighter in my town,” Oliveira told UFC.com. “I started fighting and winning, got into jiu-jitsu and never stopped. But a big turning point in my life was when I joined Life team in Feira de Santana. Ever since I joined this team, my life has changed, and my dreams could only come true thanks to Edilson Teixeira.”
In 2017, she started her journey in mixed martial arts, and after drawing, then losing, her first two professional fights, Oliveira ripped off seven consecutive wins (all finishes) before getting her UFC contract. Unfortunately, Oliveira’s mother, 47, won’t be able to see her daughter compete and enjoy the fruits of her labor the same way she watched those Rocky movies years ago because she is now visually impaired. Sandra will be listening, though, and urging her daughter on all the same.
“(My mom) is my biggest fan,” Ravena said.” She really roots for me and follows everything. I send her videos so she can know what’s going on and she listens to it. She gets really excited.”
When Ravena walks to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Yusuff to face Tainara Lisboa, she’ll carry a special shawl with her that belonged to her grandmother.
Oliveira’s 86-year-old grandmother, Jandira, isn’t able to watch her granddaughter compete because, according to Ravena, she is bed-ridden, but the shawl – Jandira’s favorite piece of clothing - is a way for Ravena to bring “the most important person” in her life with her into the Octagon.
It’s a heavy emotional toll to take into a fight, but it seems to strengthen Oliveira ahead of her milestone moment.
“It’s still sinking in,” Oliveira said. “It’s a dream coming true. It’s aways been my dream to be here and live this, so I can’t even describe it.”
Oliveira has a tough assignment for her debut in Lisboa. The fellow Brazilian comes into the bout having won six of her last seven, including a submission win over Jessica-Rose Clark in her first Octagon appearance.
Although both fighters have striking backgrounds, both sport submission wins on their record. Oliveira believes she is more well-rounded, and she is confident in the preparation she and her coaches have done up to this moment.
“Tainara is a great fighter,” Oliveira said. “She has a very interesting game. She’s a good fighter. But I'm prepared for anything. My coaches are extremely professional. We have a game plan set out and I’m ready for anything.”
To come out with a win is the goal, but making it to the Octagon is a heck of an accomplishment for Oliveira already. This represents the first of what she hopes are many mountaintops she’ll climb as a mixed martial artist, an ascent she will continue to make with her mother and grandmother in tow.
UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs Barboza took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 14, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!