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Check out Bethe Correia, the Undefeated Dark Horse in the UFC

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Imagine. In 15 days, someone plans to beat the shit out of you. As in, rupture your ears, liquefy the cartilage in your nose, snap your cheekbones apart, leave you unconscious. And that someone will be cheered on by millions of people. Few think you’ll stand a chance when that day comes, in 15 short days. 14. 13. 12 …


This is the reality for 32-year-old Bethe Correia.

If you know anything about Ultimate Fighting, you’ve likely seen and heard all about the sport’s golden girl, Ronda Rousey, who has graced magazine covers and picked up huge endorsement deals across the globe. But while all the spotlights are shining on the all-American badass, we’re in a dark street in a poor neighborhood in one of Brazil’s most violent cities with the woman who is about to step in the cage with “Rowdy” Rousey — and into the biggest fight of her life. Good luck! On Aug. 1 in Rio de Janeiro, “Pitbull” Correia will battle for the title of Bantamweight Champion, all 135 pounds of her. Now just six short days away.

The contrasts couldn’t be more telling. For weeks, Rousey has been trailed by a pack of professional photographers, capturing her every exhale in state-of-the-art gyms and on the sunny beaches of Santa Monica, California. She’s flush with sponsors, sports drinks and fans thrusting Sharpies her way. But down here, in Natal, in the far Northeast of Brazil, Correia trains in an unairconditioned gym with rusted equipment in a crumbling neighborhood. Her coach is her husband. Her manager is her sister. And as for her sponsors, they don’t exist.

The only place people are betting on Correia is in the hot, humid gym in Natal, which has become a factory for Brazilian fighters.

Millions of people are expected to tune in for the women’s pay-per-view headline fight. And, symbolically, Correia carries the baton for female mixed martial arts fighters in Brazil, a movement that has been building momentum in recent years but that also carries a heavy weight in a country that has a reputation for quickly turning on its own chastened athletes. The local media pan Correia; they don’t think she stands a chance against the American machine. And in the U.S. press, she’s taken even less seriously. Bleacher Report predicts that Rousey will defeat Correia by Total Knockout, in Round 1, no less. Betting websites put Rousey at -1500, with 15-to-1 odds.

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