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Tracy Cortez to check Rose Namajunas as ‘actual flyweight’

Tracy Cortez thinks each Rose Namajunas and herself will probably be getting into uncharted territory after they conflict in Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 59 headliner.

Cortez (11-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) overtly admits she’s encountering a number of new moments as she readies for her first octagon essential occasion in opposition to Namajunas (12-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) at Ball Area in Denver (ESPN, ESPN+). She changed Maycee Barber within the matchup on lower than three weeks’ discover, and was pressured to regulate to elevation, a five-round battle and her most high-level opponent up to now.

It’s loads to throw Cortez’s approach, she mentioned, however she thinks she’s dealt with all of it professionally. Furthermore, the state of affairs is made simpler in realizing the much more skilled Namajunas, who’s a former two-time champion, goes to need to cope with one thing new herself come battle evening.

“I’m a gamer,” Cortez advised MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I’m not one to ever shy down from a problem. I’m not ever one to say no to nice alternatives. That is how the greats are made. That is how legends are made. To battle a former world champ, and have a name – I felt extraordinarily blessed and jumped on it.

“I’m going to be blunt: It’s only a studying expertise for me, that is all new to me. I’ve by no means taken a short-notice (battle), not to mention in opposition to a former world champ. However I’m assured inside myself and my expertise. It was simply every part else round me that I had to determine. The whole lot went actually clean, truly extremely clean. I feel I harassed myself out greater than I ought to have.”


After a embellished run at strawweight, Namajunas moved as much as 125 kilos in September. She’s gone 1-1 in her new weight class, dropping her debut to prime contender Manon Fiorot earlier than bouncing again in opposition to Amanda Ribas in March.

Cortez, 30, thinks she brings a unique skillset to the desk than that of Fiorot and Ribas, particularly in relation to measurement and power. Cortez, who has competed at ladies’s bantamweight previously, carries Namajunas in excessive regard, however thinks she has variables that might create issues for “Thug Rose” on this division.

“Who doesn’t love Rose? She’s an unimaginable individual, however sadly, we’re within the combating enterprise,” Cortez mentioned. “She desires to maneuver as much as 125 and we’re going to face one another. Whether or not it’s now or down the highway, it simply occurs to be now. I’ve nothing unhealthy to say about Rose and if something, I’m excited for this problem and I’m grateful she took this battle with me.

“I need to say I’m a real 125er. Sh*t, I may even battle at 135 however I’m an actual flyweight and I don’t suppose she’s but to face somebody like myself, and vice versa. I’ve by no means confronted a former world champion, so it’s placing each of us in a great take a look at.”

Cortez, No. 8 within the newest USA TODAY Sports activities/MMA Junkie ladies’s flyweight rankings, understands what a win over a reputation like Namajunas would do for her profession. Though Namajunas, who’s ranked No. 13, doesn’t have the identical sort of resume on this weight class as she did at strawweight, beating her remains to be is a major accomplishment.

If Cortez will get the job carried out, she would elevate her identify into title competition. She is assured the belt will come her approach ultimately, however with Valentina Shevchenko’s standing unsure for a possible Noche UFC title shot in opposition to champion Alexa Grasso, there might be severe alternatives abound if Cortez will get her hand raised.

“I actually need to battle for the belt,” Cortez mentioned. “I do know there’s lots of people forward of me nonetheless. I do know profitable this battle, the place it may transfer me to. And the efficiency I placed on Saturday, I do know every part that comes with it. If I get the chance and so they grant me the chance to battle on the Sphere, I feel it could be unimaginable historical past. Two Mexican ladies on Mexican Independence Day combating on the most important sport occasion ever. I feel that may simply be unimaginable. That’s one thing I by no means imaged and I really feel prefer it’s simply arm’s size. That’s what I’m striving for, however on the finish of the day, long-term objective, I’m combating for the belt.”

For extra on the cardboard, go to MMA Junkie’s occasion hub for UFC on ESPN 59.

Be sure you go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of combined martial arts.


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