UFC 245 is set for Saturday night (local time) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the build up to the card two Brazilian fighters paid tribute to Pancrase.

Viviane Araujo was crowned as the strawweight Queen of Pancrase in 2018. She never defended her title, instead electing to sign with the UFC and compete in the 135lbs division.

Araujo has won two fights out of two in the octagon and dropped down to flyweight where she is ranked at #6. The 33 year old beat Emi Fujino and Ayaka Miura during her Pancrase career and feels the experience helped prepare her for the UFC,

“Fighting at such a traditional event like Pancrase, a big event in Japan where fans like MMA very much and are very passionate about it, prepared me psychologically (and) made my mind stronger. I went through this experience calmly and today I am in the biggest MMA organization in the world. My experience at Pancrase prepared me and made me confident to be fighting in the UFC.”

Paid tribute

She also paid tribute to the Japanese fans,

“Japanese fans are very close to athletes, they take care of us and they love MMA. So I think my favorite experience was the love from the fans.”

At Pancrase 311 last weekend Fujino recently won the title vacated by the Brazilian. Araujo has her sights set on bigger prizes and is hoping a win this weekend could earn her a UFC title shot,

“I’m very happy with the opportunity to fight an athlete as tough as Jessica Eye, number 2 in the division (and) I know that with a win I’ll get closer to a title fight.”

Former champion

Aldo only fought once for Pancrase. But the former UFC featherweight champion has fond memories of Japan,

“One of my first fights was at Pancrase and I dreamed of being the champion one day but fate brought me to America. I have a lot of love for Japan, especially for the Japanese fans, who are really passionate about fights. I’m really proud of my history there.”

Aldo will make his bantamweight debut at UFC 245. He faces fellow Brazilian Marlon Moraes and believes he can make a big impression at 135lbs,

“Now, I think I’m a new man (at bantamweight). Eating well helped me a lot, gave me more energy and an incredible willpower. I only gained from this change. I am very happy today at this weight and with my performances at the gym, so I look forward to going up to the octagon and seeing what will happen.”