Undefeated flyweight prospect Priscila Cachoeira makes her UFC debut this Saturday when she battles Valentina Shevchenko at the UFC Fight Night 125 event in her home country of Brazil.
Cachoeira (8-0) has been making waves in the regional scene, having picked up four knockout victories as well as four decisions. The “Pedrita” has had a relatively short rise in MMA considering she made her professional debut less than two years ago. However, the Brazilian is a true fighter who has survived many battles and obstacles in her life.
Did you know Cachoeira suffered from sexual abuse and drug addiction before beginning her MMA journey? Less than three years later and she’s now made it to the UFC. Cachoeira discussed her former troubles during a recent chat with MMA Fighting.
On what led to her drug addiction:
A series of things hurt me inside. I was mistreated by my father, he said I wasn’t his daughter, he did things to hurt me. The funny thing is that I still had him as an idol. I played volleyball for Fluminense, but I was stabbed in the back and removed from the team. In between those two things, I was molested by someone who was a member of the family back then, my brother-in-law. And then I caught my boyfriend cheating on me.
On how the addiction begun:
I started going to parties every day and met people that used drugs. My life changed, I dropped studies and sports and started sleeping during the day and partying every night. That’s how I started using ‘loló’ (a blend of chloroform and ether), marijuana, cocaine and crack. I spent a long time using crack, more than three years. My biceps were the size of my wrist. Crack almost killed me. I prayed for a way out, I wanted to stop. I knew I was dying, I knew I was killing myself, but I couldn’t stop. My body kept asking for more drugs, and I couldn’t control myself.
On why her mother gave her money during her troubled times:
I thought she was being an accomplice in my drug addiction but I understand now that she was giving me money so I wouldn’t get to the point of prostituting or stealing things. I didn’t go that far.
On what finally rescued her from the addiction:
I was using crack for three straight days, and my money was already over, but other people started to buy it for me. On the third day, I couldn’t take it anymore, my body wouldn’t take it anymore, but I had no strength to stand up and leave. My vision was blurry, I was disoriented. I wanted to leave. I looked at the door and I saw a light, I saw that someone was coming in my direction. I recognized the dress and said, ‘It’s my mother.’ The other junkies left, scared, and I wanted to leave as well because I thought she would beat me. She avoided the traps we set up for cops and said, ‘Let’s go home.’ She gave me a hug and we started crying. The junkies came back, applauding her, saying, ‘I wish I had a mom like yours. Don’t you ever come back here.’ I left that place and never came back. I was rescued that day.
On joining a muay thai gym which changed her life:
The drugs were getting out of my body through my sweat. I had setbacks and used drugs again, I confess, but my willpower was bigger. When I realized I was talented for fighting, I decided I wanted to do something for myself. “Two years ago, when I decided I was going to fight, I told my brother that I would become a UFC fighter in three years. He laughed. ‘You’re crazy, you don’t even know how to punch.’ He kind of doubted me. And here I am, two years later. When I promise something, I do it.
Reflecting back on her first professional MMA fight:
I was getting beat up so much in the first round that I thought about quitting but then I heard her [my mother’s] voice: ‘Don’t give up, my daughter.’ I didn’t quit, and I started fighting like a maniac. One punch landed flush, and my opponent looked back at me, and I knew I had her respect. I started to hunt her down and won the fight. My past, this dark shadow from the past, is what made me get so fast to the UFC. This past gives me strength to enter the cage and do my best.
On her upcoming UFC journey:
Every time I fight is a war, the best fight of the night. I want to break records and become the fighter with the most bonuses in the UFC. Not for the money — it’s important, of course — but I love putting on a show to entertain the crowd. I always say that two or three good wins, putting on a show for the fans, it’s possible that I get the belt. Your hard work and determination makes dreams possible, and it might come faster than you imagine.
UFC Fight Night 125 takes place this Saturday February 3 from the Mangueirinho Gymnasium in Belem, Para, Brazil. The main card featuring Shevchenko vs. Cachoeira will be aired live on FS1 from 10pm EST.