juliana-carneiro-lima.jpgBefore she was a mixed martial arts fighter, Juliana “Ju Thai” Carneiro Lima was a college-educated professional with a good-paying job and a comfortable life in Brazil.

Then, like others in the sport, she was romanced by MMA from the first time she was exposed to it by her brother. She trained some, tried some Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and then dove directly into a professional MMA career without any amateur experience.

For her, fighting wasn’t her only choice. It was just the choice that she made.

“I didn’t need to fight,” she told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) via email, “but I chose to and give up my job to pursue my dream.”

So far, that decision is paying off. The 31-year-old will take a 5-0 MMA record into her U.S. debut on Friday when she faces Katja Kankaanpaa (7-0-1) at Invicta FC 5 in Kansas City, Mo. Theirs is one of 13 fights on the card headlined by Jessica Penne vs. Michelle Waterson and a co-main event of Vanessa Porto vs. Barb Honchak.

In her five previous fights, Lima has shown a strong stamina that allowed her to win four by decision. All came in Brazil, the country in which she still lives in the house where she was born.

She also is dropping from 125 pounds to 115 for Invicta, a commitment that allows her the exposure other female fighters have already experienced with the promotion. She considers it her chance to display her skills to a U.S. audience, as she hopes to continue what Brazilian fans already have been seeing since November 2010.

“This is a dream come true and I’m so excited to step in that cage,” she said. “I was proud to fight in Brazil, but to fight at Invicta, it means my hard work, dedication and sacrifices have paid off.”

Hometown girl

Lima was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a large city in the southeastern part of the country. She was and remains very close with her family, which she said helped to teach her about hard work and the importance of an education.

She continued that education all the way to a college degree, which was part of her original plan to pursue a career – one outside of fighting, at least.

She was athletic from the start, including a skill at swimming and an early interest in martial arts. She also was a soccer player, but also had her share of Barbie dolls as a typical female child.

One of her first inspirations for moving toward MMA was Wanderlei Silva, whom she watched along with her brother in PRIDE bouts.

“I was proud to be Brazilian,” she said.

She didn’t move toward training herself until she was 19 years old, but she had a natural ability in the sport bred by her experience in other types of athletics. An older brother encouraged her to grow her involvement, which she still didn’t expect to turn into a career for her.

But it did, and she allowed her faith to help her make those decisions.

“I’m a person that is very close to my family and I’m a very loyal person to my team and I’m very close to God and live by His laws,” she said. “My faith is my biggest ally.”

A larger audience

In her first few months of MMA training, Lima did enough to impress the instructors at her gym. One, who became her main coach, helped her find competitions in Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to sharpen her skills for what most believed was a coming move to MMA.

By the time they believed she was ready for MMA, her coach didn’t see a need for amateur fights. She became a professional immediately with her November 2010 debut, which she won by decision.

That started her string of five straight victories, including three by unanimous decision. She has fought four times in the Brasil Fights promotion, most recently this past September when she moved her record to 5-0.

Then Invicta came calling. The promotion is nearing a year old, and officials believe this is the best card in its history. Penne, the atomweight champion, will defend her title against Waterson in the main event before the co-main event features Invicta’s first flyweight championship bout between Porto and Honchak.

Lima will be facing another fighter in Kankaanpaa who also is making her Invicta debut. She hopes she can continue fulfilling the promise of her decision to leave her other career to pursue MMA.

It will be a new experience for the Brazilian 115-pounder, and the reward is a larger audience to watch her fight.

“The benefits of MMA are that my mind body and soul are always in tune with each other,” she wrote. “MMA has given me some great friends and has let me experience things and places that I never would got gotten the chance to do without MMA.”

For more on Invicta FC 5, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Award-winning newspaper reporter Kyle Nagel pens “Fight Path” each week. The column focuses on the circumstances that led fighters to a profession in MMA. Know a fighter with an interesting story? Email us at news [at] mmajunkie.com.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.
From Around the Web

Related News

Co-main event Roxanne Modafferi vs. Vanessa Porto, two other fights added to Invicta FC 12

  • 6 days ago
  • 2 views

Roxanne Modafferi will attempt to continue her career resurgence next month. The women's MMA legend meets Vanessa Porto in the co-main event of Invicta FC 12 on April 24 in Kansas City, the promotion read news >>

Fabio Maldonado hopes to fight Rampage Jackson at UFC 186 despite Bellator’s lawsuit

  • 24 days ago
  • 4 views

Bellator is trying to stop Quinton Jackson from fighting Fabio Maldonado at UFC 186, but the Brazilian brawler is hoping it fails. Bellator announced on Monday that they have filed a lawsuit in the C read news >>

Invicta FC 11 payouts and salaries: Cris Cyborg takes home $90k of $134,000 total payroll

  • 24 days ago
  • 2 views

Just around double than what the rest of the field combined took home that night. Cristiane Justino may not be plying her trade under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner (yet), but her ba read news >>

Invicta FC 11 salaries: Cris 'Cyborg' pockets $90,000 for 46-second win

  • 24 days ago
  • 0 views

When it comes to Invicta FC 11's payroll sheet, there's Cristiane Justino and then there's everybody else. "Cyborg" pocketed a reported $90,000 for her 46-second knockout win over Charmaine Tweet at read news >>

Cris Cyborg responds to Rener Gracie’s comments: ‘I have no grandfather name to live off’

  • 25 days ago
  • 241 views

Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino responds to Rener Gracie’s public comments that she is given “too much credit.” Monday's edition of The MMA Hour saw Rener Gracie make an appea read news >>

The MMA Hour - 271 - Robert Sargent

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 views

MMA Rising's Robert Sargent discusses UFC 184 and Invicta FC 11. read news >>

Invicta FC 11 medical suspensions: Charmaine Tweet potentially out six months after brutal 'Cyborg' loss

  • 27 days ago
  • 3 views

Just how much damage can Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino inflict in 46 seconds? Apparently enough to set an opponent back six months, as Charmaine Tweet learned on Friday night at Invicta FC 11. Tweet suf read news >>

Ronda Rousey: Can She Continue Destroying Opponents and Be a Huge Draw?

  • 28 days ago
  • 7 views

Ronda Rousey was called a "female version of Mike Tyson" by Dana White at the UFC 184 post-fight press conference. Her last two fights lasted a combined total of 30 seconds. She has only been past th read news >>

Video: Ronda Rousey 'not really' impressed by Cris Cyborg's 46 second knockout win at Invicta FC 11

  • 28 days ago
  • 159 views

[Cyborg's] not in the UFC. If she would like to come to the UFC and fight at 135, then yes, I would [like to fight her]. [She won] against some chick that I beat like my second pro-fight ever, in 40 read news >>