Talita Nogueira returns to competition at Bellator 231 on Friday. Nogueira will come back in her first fight since July 2018 to take on promotional debutant Jessy Miele. The October 25th card has fun fights all-around and emanates from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Nogueira competes on the preliminary portion which will broadcast via the Bellator app. She’s looking to rebound from her first pro-MMA loss and returns to a Bellator women’s featherweight landscape that is altogether different than what she last saw.
Talita Nogueira Bellator 231
The hiatus of Nogueira was informed by a lot of big life changes but also was a period for her to reassess things. To renew the vigor for competition and return to the cage in peak form, mentally and physically.
Through a translator, Talita Nogueira said “It’s been a while but she went through a lot of changes in life. Moving to the US where she trains now. She took some time to think about what she wanted for her life; wanted to compete in jiu-jitsu. Won the worlds in July. Now she thinks it’s the right time to come back to Bellator to fight again.”
Nogueira’s opponent Miele has the edge on her in terms of pro-MMA experience, she’s riding a three-fight win streak, and she has a 75 percent finishing rate with subs and striking stoppages to her credit.
When I asked about Miele, Nogueira said (through a translator) “She believes that she’s very comfortable in both ground game and also the striking game. She thinks it’s going to be a good fight. Great opponent that’s going to allow her to show how she improved in her skills. She believes it’s going to be a good fight.”
The Women’s featherweight class in Bellator
The aforementioned shift in Bellator’s 145 lb ranks is also partly due to a huge recent signing. Cris Cyborg is one of the greatest fighters in MMA history and recently jumped ship from UFC to sign with Bellator MMA. Cyborg has divisional ruler Julia Budd in her crosshairs for a title bout slated to go January 2020.
Through her translator, Nogueira said “Even before Cris Cyborg, Bellator had the best division. Of course now with Cris everything gets even better. UFC used to bring girls from other events to compete or girls that belong to UFC used to go up one division to fight against Cris Cyborg. Bellator’s going to have more visibility and it’s good for everybody.”
Julia Budd is a name that Nogueira is more than familiar with. She lost to Budd in her last fight and was stopped via TKO in the third round. The failed title bid was a tough pill to swallow but it imparted some hard lessons on Nogueira.
Through her translator, she said “She needed to kick ass. What she learned was that she trained a lot of things that she wasn’t able to put in practice during the fight. She did that because her mind wasn’t in the right place. Small things like bleeding during the fight. Some things that had never happened to her played a role during the fight.”
Nogueira continued, “She learned that she needs to do more sparring during her camp. Athletes that come from BJJ don’t get so much of that. She realized that sparring’s very important during camp and is the main part of the camp.”
The Road Back to the Belt
A strong win here could reassimilate Nogueira into the women’s featherweight upper echelon for Bellator. Though Bellator has a stacked women’s featherweight class in a relative sense, there’s still a level of depth to the division where a statement win or two can net someone a title shot.
When I asked Nogueira about earning another crack at the belt, she said (through her translator) “She thinks that this is up to Bellator. If Bellator wants her to go for the title, she’ll be ready. But she doesn’t want to think about it. She thinks it could affect her performance and what’s obviously important here is this fight.”
Talita Nogueira vs Jessy Miele as part of the Bellator 231 prelims which kick off at 6:00 PM ET. The full interview with Nogueira can be found here.