Viviane Araujo Leaves ‘No Stone Unturned’

Viviane Araujo in January was forced into a decision no athlete likes to make and hit the pause button on her progress in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s flyweight division. The Cerrado MMA representative withdrew from a scheduled match with Alexa Grasso at UFC 270 and underwent surgery for an undisclosed injury.

“I couldn’t continue my camp, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to perform at my full potential, so I, my coaches and medical team decided to halt my training,” Araujo told Sherdog.com. “I was doing too much. As soon as this happened, we notified the UFC. They gave us their full support. I had the surgery and took time off for recovery. It was quick. Today, I’m 100%. I can say that my body is strong now.”

Those words will be put to the test when Araujo returns to the Octagon to face Andrea Lee in the featured UFC on ESPN 36 prelim this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. A former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion, Lee carries a 13-5 record and enters the cage on the heels of back-to-back victories over Antonina Shevchenko and Cynthia Calvillo.

“She’s pretty strong,” Araujo said. “She’s big for our weight class. It’ll be a great challenge for me to face her. I’m very motivated for it. We’ve been studying her fights to identify holes in her game. I’m feeling very happy with this new opportunity to get back to the Octagon. I’m feeling very ready, physically and mentally. Now, it’s up to me to put in the hard work while studying her. The goal is to remain one step ahead during our actual bout.

“I expect to have great fight with her,” she added. “Same as always, I’m looking forward to getting into a war. I’m very ready and hungry. I also want to show the results of my work over the last few months. I’ve evolved as a fighter. I’m very much looking forward to facing her. I’m very confident it will be yet another victory on my record.”

Araujo finds herself on the rebound following a unanimous decision defeat to former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 262 nearly a year ago. The setback snapped a two-fight winning streak and once again left the Brazilian shy of her goal of becoming the UFC’s top contender at 125 pounds. Once Araujo recovered from surgery and accepted the assignment against Lee, focused training commenced.

“A lot of things have changed in my preparation,” she said. “There were several improvements, including adding training partners. Adjustments were made. We found various sparring partners with a game similar to Andrea’s, including height, weight and reach. We’ve been studying Andrea and working daily with that in mind.

“I’ve been sharpening all areas: jiu-jitsu, wrestling and boxing,” Araujo added. “The plan is to be complete and leave no stone unturned. I plan to fight hard, no matter what position we find ourselves in. My goal is to show my aggressiveness and heart and to get a quick finish. I’m determined and hungry.”