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Ketlen Souza’s Untamed Spirit


They call Ketlen Souza “Esquentadinha,” which means “Little Hothead” in Portuguese. The moniker and the manner in which she earned it provides some insight into how she is wired.

“One time while weighing in, this photographer kept bothering me, and I ended up being rude back at him,” Souza told Sherdog.com. “He felt I was hotheaded and told me as much. It’s been my nickname ever since.”

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Her competitive fires were stoked early on.

“I’ve been making my way through the fight world since age 16,” Souza said. “Nothing has been easy in my chosen profession. I’ve fought several well-qualified opponents so far. I’m thankful to God for helping me on this path. I have no complaints. I’d do it all again.”

That untamed spirit will carry Souza into her latest assignment in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight division, as she faces Marnic Mann as part of the UFC on ESPN 55 undercard this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It serves as a bounce-back chance for the Brazilian, who saw her five-fight winning streak grind to a halt when she submitted to a Karine Silva kneebar in her June 3 promotional debut. When Souza looks at Mann, she sees opportunity.

“I don’t feel any extra pressure,” Souza said. “I’m feeling very confident. I feel she’s inferior in several areas. Her only strength is her grappling. It’s also one of my strengths, besides the fact that I’m a striker. I didn’t get to grapple much last time around because I suffered a knee injury. I wanted to keep fighting. I didn’t want to tap. I ended up getting hurt.”

Though the encounter with Silva did not lead to the result Souza anticipated, the former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder remains resolute in her approach and brims with confidence.

“I know that if I managed to get into the UFC, it was meant to be,” she said. “Marnic should get ready for me. I’ve studied my opponent, and I expect a quick win. She won’t beat me. This fight is mine.”

Souza operates out of the Carioca Academy in Manaus, Brazil. There, she sharpens her skills under trusted coach Cristian Bezerra Carioca while training alongside fellow UFC strawweight Julia Polastri and ONE Championship veteran Dayane Cardoso. Shortcuts are nowhere to be found.

“Most of my training partners are men,” Souza said. “I don’t need quantity, just quality. I believe the people I have around me are enough to help me defeat Marnic.”

A win over Mann would allow Souza to establish a foothold in the 115-pound weight class and afford her the necessary wiggle room to turn her attention to more meaningful pursuits.

“Beyond winning this fight now, the goal of every fighter is to capture a championship belt,” she said. “I hope to be fighting several ranked girls in the near future [while] making my name in the UFC.”
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