UFC flyweight prospect Melissa Gatto had quite the ending to her 2021 run.
After a successful Octagon debut, where she scored an injury TKO win over Victoria Leonardo, the Brazilian followed it up with an actual highlight reel finish in her next outing. Against Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 45, the 25-year-old put her opponent away with stabbing front kick to the torso, which even warranted her a performance bonus.
In an interview with Combate, Gatto was over the moon with her finish. Although Eubank’s record of 7-7, Melissa pointed out how Sijara’s losses were all to tough competition and the fact that ‘Sarge’ had never been finished before. Because of that fact, the Brazilian believes her win is even more impressive.
“Although Sijara really had some losses, like everyone was talking about, she had only lost to really tough girls,” Gatto said. “Nowadays they are ranked, they’re the UFC’s elite. People need to put some respect on her name. I respect her story and everything she has done very much. She had never been knocked out or submitted before, that shows how tough she is. I did something different, I did what nobody else could.”
A jiu-jitsu practitioner with most of her wins coming by way of submission, Gatto was impressed to score her first ever knockout win due to a strike. In fact, Melissa confessed she was a little surprised when Sijara went down after the kick, but snapped out of it when her coach yelled at her to hurry up and finish the fight.
“It was the first knockout of my career,” Gatto said. “When she went down, I couldn’t believe it. I was like ‘Is that it? Did she really get hurt and just went down? What do I do?’. Then my coach desperately yelled at me to finish the fight. So I hurried up and went for it. She even tried to grab my leg, but the ref had already stopped it and I was trying to break free to celebrate while she was still holding on.”
“Then she said the kick landed really hard, it landed right on her stomach and she couldn’t recover,” Gatto continued. “To hold my leg was just an instinct. It must be really hard to endure a kick when it lands like that. She went down in slow motion. I kept looking at her like: ‘Did I really just knock her out?’. It’s all good now, next time I know I have to go for the finish right away.”
In Gatto’s (8-0-2) last outing before being signed with the UFC, she had also scored a submission victory against current UFC bantamweight Karol Rosa, in September 2018.
The almost three-year gap between her Rosa win and the UFC debut is partly due to a positive USADA test for banned substance classified as Diuretic or Masking Agent Furosemide, back in June 2019. Because of the infraction, Gatto was given a one-year suspension.
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