Jasmine Jasudavicius hates the idea of inflicting pain on her opponents and finds it difficult to shut off her empathy on fight week.
“In the first round, when I had her there [on the ground], I was kind of going for the finish, but I was like, ‘No, I had to suffer all through camp. I had to suffer so much. This is unfair. You’re not taking this from me.’ And so I gave a little bit extra.”
Or a lot extra. By the time the fight was called off in the third round, Jasudavicius had landed 326 strikes to Cachoeira’s 26. There was so much blood coming from Cachoeira’s face, it stained her fight uniform. One veteran MMA judge, Sal D’Amato, scored the second round 10-7 for Jasudavicius, indicating the fight could have been stopped in the middle frame.
“I did try to finish her,” Jasudavicius said. “I did get to a point where I was like, enough is enough. Turn your back, give me your neck. But I have to do the job in there. I don’t see her as a person. It’s like, this is my enemy, and I just have to keep going through this process until its finalized.”
Until she stepped into the octagon with Cachoeira, Jasudavicius wasn’t convinced she’d get to finish her work. When UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard’s name showed up on her caller ID prior to weigh-ins, she knew it was bad news.
“He could hear it in my voice,” she said. “He said, ‘There’s a problem with her weight.’”
Jasudavicius put the phone down so her coaches could listen. She couldn’t focus. A dream hometown fight – she resides about an hour from the event’s host, Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto – was now in jeopardy. One of her teammates poked fun at a single tear that fell from her eye after the call.
Eventually, her team returned to propose a 130-pound catchweight fight. She went downstairs, she said, to find the UFC’s nutritionist and “just start eating.” Then they proposed a 132-pound catchweight. By then, she was getting more an more agitated and took a walk to clear her head.
Ambling around the hallways of the host hotel, she wound up running into Cachoeira and her coach.
“I said, ‘Hey, 130, come on, please,” Jasudavicius said of her response to seeing the Brazilian fighter. Her coach kind of translated, and she was saying something – she was, like, rubbing her stomach and speaking, but I couldn’t understand her, and her coach was saying she’s having a tough weight cut, and then I just said, ‘Please, please, like, let’s do , I’ll pray for your health.’”
But at that point, the concern was that Cachoeira was having so many problems cutting weight, she might not even be able to make 130, or even 132. So they proposed a bantamweight bout – a full weight class above the fight Jasudavicius signed for.
“[My coach] Chris comes up and tells me we’re gonna do the fight at 135, because we’re worried if we make the fight 132 and she still misses the weight, then the commission’s gonna call it off completely. Like Ontario Commission, they don’t mess around with anything. I’m just like, ‘OK, whatever, sure.’ I knew I was fighting regardless of whatever weight it was.”
Jasudavicius weighed in at 133 pounds, drinking water before she stepped on the scale. The fight was on, but she was furious at her opponent.
“This camp was over Christmas, and it was over the holidays, and I like enjoying Christmas with my family. They make really delicious food, and to celebrate New Year’s and spend time with my friends and family, it’s a big thing. Every time I have to sacrifice, there’s a little piece of me that goes into this fire. It’s a little bit of fuel every time I don’t get to have that treat when I would have liked to, a little bit of fuel if I can’t put as much butter on my potato as I like to.
“And so by the time I get to fight week, that cup was really full. So then the weight miss on top of it, it was just like, here’s some gasoline on top of this. Let’s go berserk. I just felt like my whole body had just like poison inside. I was just wanting to get it out.”
Instead, she took her coaches’ advice and harnessed it for her performance. It made her job much easier.
“It’s very challenging on fight week to turn off emotion and not see her as a person anymore,” she said. “Seeing blood come out of her when I punch her, this is not an enjoyable thing. I understand it, and I hate that in martial arts there’s like a winner and a loser, and I hate that she has to feel the pain of loss and the physical pain. That sucks. But I understand that’s like the by-product of being in this sport, and going into fight week, I have to turn that emotion off, because I could be that person on the bottom taking that.”
Jasudavicius picked up a win, her fourth in six UFC outings. She is back on the right side of the resume, and she picked up 30 percent of Cachoeira’s fight purse for the weight miss. But this trip to the octagon didn’t come without a toll.
“Even now, I’m like exhausted – emotionally, physically, mentally, all that,” she said. “I’m still exhausted from it.”