Victoria Souza never planned to become a mixed martial artist. She was working as an accountant in Brazil and decided to do some dance classes in her spare time.

But when she turned up at the gym there were no dance classes, only sessions in Muay Thai and jiu jitsu. Souza decided to enroll and the rest is history,

“Work stressed me out a lot because accounting is stressful, so I wanted to do something to alleviate that stress. Me and another co-worker went to a gym that had a sign advertising dance classes. When we arrived at the gym, there was no dancing, only Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu (so) I ended up enrolling in Muay Thai.”


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Accidental discovery

She didn’t plan to start learning martial arts let alone retire from accountancy in order to become a full time mixed martial artist,

“I had no intention of becoming a fighter when I signed up for the gym I just wanted to hit some pads and de-stress (but) a while later Thiago Tavares jokingly called me to do some Muay Thai sparring. It was my first sparring practice, and I loved doing it.”

She would go on to enjoy success in the striking sports competing all over the continent,

“My experience with striking was incredible. I won the state championship a few times, I was Brazilian kickboxing champion three times, and I fought at the Pan-American Kickboxing Championships in Mexico and was the champion.”

Souza says she discovered the ground game accidentally,

“I sparred with a sparring partner and took him down. Then I thought, ‘if I could stay on the ground, it would be amazing’ and that’s when I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, too.”


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Moving fast

She won her first five fights and was offered a ONE Championship contract,

“It was all very fast in my career. I found myself in martial arts and saw that this was what I wanted for my life. I love striking, I love fighting on the ground, and I love doing MMA.”

Souza made her ONE Championship debut in 2021 and was matched with Victoria Lee. She was stopped in the second round but did well to even make it that far after suffering a serious arm injury,

“I remember that fight a lot because, besides being my first defeat in MMA, I left with a very serious injury. I tore the biceps muscle, two arm ligaments, and the tendons. This injury was right in the first round. She got an armbar, and I held on for a while and didn’t tap out. I heard my arm snap, but I decided not to tap because I wanted that win so badly.”

There is clearly no quit in Souza and she was determined to continue despite having effectively lost the use of her left arm,

“I came back for the second round, even without being able to move my left arm, and I tried to go until the end. If the referee didn’t stop the fight, I was going to try to come back for the third round.”


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Lessons learned

That was two years ago and Souza spent nearly a year on the sidelines. But she made her comeback on a regional show in Brazil last September and scored the sixth win of her professional career.

This Saturday morning Souza takes on the undefeated Linda Darrow at ONE Fight Night 7 in Bangkok. She might have a loss on her record now but says that suffering injury and defeat has only strengthened her resolve to be successful in the sport,

“The lesson I learned, even with the defeat and the injury, is that I will never give up. I left the fight with even more certainty that this is what I want for my life. I really want to be a fighter and make a living from this sport.”