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From crackhead to contender, Priscila Cachoeira ready to make her mark in UFC

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Brazilian newcomer Priscila Cachoeira has yet to throw a single punch inside the Octagon, but she can already be considered an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title contender.

That’s because the promotion recently created a new women’s flyweight division, and without any established names or records to populate it — strawweight/bantamweight imports notwithstanding — it’s pretty much the wild west at 125 pounds.

It’s a situation the Brazilian probably never expected to find herself in.

"I spent a long time using crack, more than three years,” Cachoeira told MMA Fighting. "My biceps were the size of my wrist. Crack almost killed me. I prayed for a way out, I wanted to stop. I knew I was dying, I knew I was killing myself, but I couldn’t stop. My body kept asking for more drugs, and I couldn’t control myself."

After eventually being rescued by her family, Cachoeira -- a former standout volleyball player -- found her way to mixed martial arts (MMA), where she promptly compiled a perfect 8-0 record with four knockouts.

Much to the disbelief of those around her.

"Two years ago, when I decided I was going to fight, I told my brother that I would become a UFC fighter in three years,” Cachoeira said. "He laughed. ‘You're crazy, you don’t even know how to punch.’ He kind of doubted me. And here I am, two years later. When I promise something, I do it.”

No doubt she will once again be doubted heading into this weekend’s fight, and for good reason. Cachoeira will be tasked with turning away striking sensation and former 115-pound title contender Valentina Shevchenko as part of the UFC Belem showcase this February in Brazil (see it).

For much more on that upcoming showdown click here.