5 Things You Might Not Know About Juliana Velasquez

Juliana Velasquez thrived in the pursuit. Now she must prove she can stand her ground.

The 35-year-old Brazilian will enter her 2022 campaign as the undisputed Bellator MMA women’s flyweight champion, having taken charge of the fledgling division with a perfect 12-0 record. Velasquez joined the Scott Coker-led organization a little more than four years ago and proceeded to rattle off seven consecutive victories. She last appeared at Bellator 262, where she retained her 125-pound title with a five-round split decision over Denise Kielholtz on July 16.

As Velasquez prepares for her next challenge inside the cage, here are five things you might not know about her:

1. The gi provided her introduction to martial arts.

Velasquez started her formal judo training at the age of 4 and made an attempt to qualify for the Olympic team in her native Brazil before transitioning to mixed martial arts. She now holds the rank of black belt in the discipline.

2. She made up for lost time.

The Brazilian judoka did not make her professional debut until she was 28, when she took a three-round unanimous decision over Priscila de Souza under the Circuito Team Nogueira de MMA banner on Dec. 4, 2014. Velasquez did not arrive in Bellator until after she celebrated her 31st birthday.

3. An already-rich tradition was bolstered by her presence.

When Velasquez defeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane by unanimous decision in the Bellator 254 main event and laid claim to the women’s flyweight crown on Dec. 10, 2020, she became the seventh Brazilian to capture a Bellator MMA championship. The others: Rafael Carvalho, Douglas Lima, Patricio Freire, Eduardo Dantos, Marcos Galvao and Cristiane Justino. Patricky Freire joined the group in November 2021.

4. She took the iron-sharpens-iron path.

The reigning Bellator women’s flyweight champion operates out of Team Nogueira in her native Rio de Janeiro, having aligned herself with an acclaimed camp that has produced a number of world-class mixed martial artists, from Rousimar Palhares, Rafael Cavalcante and Raush Manfio to the twin brothers after which it was named: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

5. Diverse skills provide her with various avenues to victory.

Velasquez has secured four of her 12 wins by knockout or technical knockout and one by submission. She executed her only career submission in her promotional debut at Bellator 189, where she put away Na Liang with a second-round armbar on Dec. 1, 2017.


What should be the next UFC men's flyweight title fight?