Maira Mazar knows that time is not on her side. The Brazilian strawweight signed for ONE Championship relatively late in life and could conceivably find herself facing opponents half her age.
Mazar meets Jenelyn Olsim at ONE: ‘Fists of Fury’ Part III which is being broadcast on Friday. The Filipina is 11 years her junior and she is well aware of this disparity,
“I am 35 years old. I don’t have time to lose and learn and lose and learn. I have to go as fast as I can because I don’t have much time like the other girls,” she said.
Mazar was selected to join Evolve MMA after successfully completing a tryout. But she is far from an overnight success, it took years for the Brazilian to reach the point where she could earn a living from the sport,
“I’ve been doing this all my life, before coming to ONE Championship and to Evolve. I didn’t have many good opportunities in Brazil. Now is the time to dream, and show the world and show people that big dreams can become real if we work hard and if we keep believing.”
The strawweight title is currently held by her teammate Xiong Jing Nan. But Mazar has her eyes on the that prize,
“I’m here in Singapore living and training at one of the best gyms in the world with one of the best teams in the world. And ONE Championship is one of the best promotions in the world. So, why can’t I be a champion, too?”
But for Maizar it is not just about winning a title. She wants to show that she belongs at the elite level of the sport,
“Of course, the belt is really beautiful. I want this belt. But this is not the point. The most important thing is to prove to myself, my family, and the people that work hard with me because many people have helped me here in Singapore that we can do this.”
She has watched Olson’s ONE Warrior Series fights and says she will not make the same mistake as her previous opponents,
“I saw her opponents giving her space to do her game. She was very aggressive but I don’t want to give her the same chance. I have to be more aggressive with her because she’s good when she has space.”
Being a Brazilian you would expect Maizar to have a strong submission game. But she has been working on her striking and wants to showcase her new skills against Olysim.
The 35 year old says she has been, “training a lot of kickboxing and boxing, so I prefer to fight a striker because I can show more of my game.”
In her last fight she took on one of the tallest strawweights on the roster. Maizar says it will be a relief to have a height advantage in this fight,
“I can use my counter game better than her because she’s a little bit shorter than me. I like to counter, but when a girl is tall, it’s harder to counter,” she said.
Having been submitted on her ONE Championship debut the Brazilian has been working on that side of her game too,
“We are training a lot of ground-and-pound with dummies, and my control on the ground is better now so I think this is my strong point for this fight.”
Her three defeats have all come by way of submission. So it is understandable that Maizar would prefer to focus on her striking but the Brazilian says she is happy to take the fight to the floor if the opportunity arises,
“If it goes to the floor, that’s okay too. But we’ll have to feel how the fight is going to decide this. I would like to score a knockout or a ground and pound on the floor in the second round.”
Strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan faces #2 ranked Michelle Nicolini at ONE: ‘Empower’. The Chinese fighter trains at Evolve MMA, which could complicate things, but Maira can take a big step closer to scoring a title shot with a win on Friday.