Until last year, and after two consecutive victories in the FFC (national event), she was called to fight in Dana White’s Contender Series for a contract with the UFC. The possibility of being in the most famous octagon in the world was close to her, but she failed in the attempt. Far from being discouraged, ‘The Peruvian Zombie’ returned to the national circuit, reaped another victory and a new challenge was presented to him.
Lavado, 28, will once again be faced with a great opportunity to internationalize with the call of the PFL (Professional Fighters League), another of the most famous North American MMA companies. The student of the legendary Johnny Iwasaki will face local Shanna Young, 32 (8-5), this Friday in the PFL Challenger Series, which awards a contract to the winner of each fight.
As soon as she found out about the PFL offer, the Peruvian athlete accepted immediately, regardless of the fact that the fight will be in a different division (flyweight, 57 kilos) than hers (strawweight, 52 kilos). Sure of herself and of the challenge she faces, Sandra Lavado spoke with sport at the gates of his presentation in the cage, where he assures that he will leave everything for the country.
How have you prepared for the fight?
Yes, although it is true this fight is in a category that I don’t usually fight, which is 57 kilos, I fight in 52 kilos, yes there is quite a difference with the category. But for me it is a very important challenge, because I am facing a very experienced rival who is a former UFC fighter, and on this PFL platform it is an event that will greatly benefit me in my career.
You are up against Shanna Young, a seasoned opponent, ex-UFC, what do you know about her?
We have been seeing your style together with my teacher. She likes to push herself quite a bit, but we’ve also seen some little things that we can work with and take advantage of to bring her into our game. That’s what we’re going to do that day.
You have the opportunity to compete in an important league, because in addition to the UFC and Bellator, the PFL is another of the most important organizations in the United States. How is it possible to compete in the PFL?
I was with the news of my last fight in the FFC and right before that fight, which was on December 15, they proposed to me to fight there. [en PFL]. What I wanted to do was like cancel the December fight and prepare only for this one, but then I said no, I’d better do it like this, to be on the move and be able to take advantage of that opportunity also in the FFC. Happily that day we were able to take the victory and it was a good thing, and it motivated us to be able to present myself now in PFL. My manager, Jason House from Iridium Sports, was the one who broke the news to me, he proposed this fight to me and I was delighted, it seemed like a very good opportunity.
The PFL has its annual million-dollar tournaments, it also has the Challenger Series, which is where you’re going to compete, is it so you can win a contract with the company?
Exactly, although this tournament that I am going to be in also has the same prize [millón de dólares]. That’s why I’m also motivated [risas]. This tournament will also last one year, and it will be based on points. It is by contract, the champion also takes the prize.
PFL has inaugurated the women’s flyweight edition, the idea is to get the contract and compete more times there…
You naturally compete at strawweight, which is about five kilos less, have you fought at flyweight before? How is the theme of this new weight going?
Yes, I have already fought a couple of times, if I am not mistaken, in 2018 against Cristina Mejía at 57 kilos and in 2021 against Germania Lascano, the Ecuadorian, and it did go well for me. In any case, now we have been working more on the physical part, the bodybuilding, although there has not been much time, because the news was given to me at the end of November, these are a few months that we have tried to make the most of so that there can be a great difference in my favor.
You are used to fighting at strawweight, the challenge of fighting at flyweight, how do you take it?
Yes, I have thought about fighting in fly. I thought I could make this leap towards this category, because for strawweight I am also very big, I am quite tall and I cut weight. I walk at 68 kilos and going down to 52 kilos is too much. I have never had problems with reaching the weight, but in the long run, one begins to feel some little things about health. That’s why I’m also going to see how I’m doing in this new category, and yes I really liked the bodybuilding work, so anyway, whatever happens on Friday, I’m still going to continue working hard on that part that perhaps before I have not focused too much.
This will be your second fight in the United States, the previous one was that defeat in the Contender Series, what experience did that fight leave you with?
That was my first fight at that level. And yes, I was surprised, the mental part influences a lot, the pressure, the magnitude of the event, I had never had it. It is not an excuse, but this second time is different. I’ve already been able to go through that, I think I’m going to handle it a little better.
Do you feel that this fight is going to catch you now with more international friction?
Exact. Some believe that nothing happens, but it does influence a lot.
What aspects have you improved since that presentation in the United States?
I feel that I am a little tougher, with more confidence, to be able to enter, to advance, especially the confidence of the event, the magnitude of the event, the importance of my rival. Before, I unconsciously did not see myself fighting with girls of that category, but since the Contender Series I already know that I could fight with anyone, not because I believe more, but because I already know that I have been in an important event and could be in many more. represented Peru very well.
These days that are left for the fight, what is usually worked on? What can be polished missing so little?
Yes, we have trained early with my teacher, as soon as we arrived, we left our things and went to train to activate the body, to continue cutting the weight. Then everything is weight cutting, sauna, to be able to make the weight.
You are a fighter who wins the most by decision or submission, not so much by knockout. Is there something that you have changed in this camp, something to surprise you?
Yes, I think that more than anything in my previous fights, if I have not been able to have that knockout opportunity, it has been because of confidence. Several times I have had that moment, some rivals have even fallen, but I lacked more head to finish it there. Now I feel more confident, I haven’t been very aware of whether I’m going to finish or not, so I can relax and not have that pressure and do what has to be done that day.
How do you expect the fight against Shanna Young to go?
It will be very hard. In any case, it will be very difficult, but as soon as the moment presents itself to be able to take advantage of it, I will do it to the maximum. Let’s hope it can end very well, above all put on a good show.
If you had to pick the perfect win for you, what would it be?
For me, it’s a knockout, it would be amazing. I would cry if that happens, because it would be the first time in my entire career that I would win by knockout.
You’re going to leave everything for the contract
More than because of the contract, I have to win and leave Peru well. It matters more to me than victory or defeat, making a very good fight.
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