Ivana Petrovic is ready to make waves in the women’s Flyweight division of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The 125-pound weight class has seen a large influx in talent over the past year and a half. At the top, a new champion was crowned in March 2023 when Alexa Grasso dethroned Valentina Shevchenko via fourth round face crank (watch highlights). The win gave new life to the division and provided hope for all the rising contenders who wanted to hold UFC gold, whether they were already in the promotion or not.
Meanwhile, over in France, Croatia’s Petrovic, 28, was busy winning and defending her Ares Fighting Championship Flyweight title. Petrovic’s crowning moment came in late 2022 thanks to a third round rear-naked choke over Alexandra Tekenah. She would defend her title once, scoring another rear-naked choke against Ewelina Woźniak this past April 2023. The win led to a UFC contract as hoped.
“It felt good to get that belt, but I’m never happy with my performance or someone who is always trying to find things I need to work with,” Petrovic told MMA Mania. “After the first time I met Alex and I took the belt, it felt okay, but I was like, ‘Okay, I need to work more.’ She had good striking, I didn’t dominate in the striking, I took her down, I get that submission. I wanted to show everyone my striking is good, too.
“The second fight, I was much more better than the fight with Alex, but also I find some things I need to work with,” she added. “Every time — even if for the belt — it’s like, ‘I need to work with this, I need to work with that. My wish was to come to UFC, too. So, that belt was just something that was going to help me come to UFC.”
The perfect 6-0 Petrovic will officially make her UFC debut at UFC Vegas 76 this weekend (Sat., July 1, 2023) against six-fight UFC veteran, Luana Carolina (8-4).
When she enters the Octagon, Petrovic will have all the support she can ask for with ties to multiple European countries. The Croatian was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and currently resides in Norway, making her the first female fighter from all three countries to compete in UFC. The goal will be to secure her sixth career finish (three knockouts, two submissions) in UFC fight No. 1, but don’t expect any forcing the moment now that she’s in the big leagues.
“Right now, in the start of my career in UFC, I want to do things that are more safe for me and of course, if I get a chance to finish the fight quick, I’m going to do it,” Petrovic said.
“I need to show everyone first who is Ivana Petrovic,” she continued. “Of course, after some time, I’m going to get a good fight, good striking rounds, because I know people want to see that. Not everyone in UFC audience are interested to watch wrestling or jiu-jitsu on the ground (laughs).”
Petrovic is expecting the most dangerous version of her Brazilian counterpart on fight night. A win for Carolina would snap a two-fight losing skid that began in March 2022 via a deadly spinning-back fist knockout from Molly McCann (watch highlights). Regardless of what Carolina brings to the table, the multi-talented kickboxer-turned-versatile grappler, Petrovic, will welcome it.
“I think she is going to be aggressive,” Petrovic said. “She lost her two last fights. So, probably wants to win this one [badly]. Probably this is more important for her than for me and I get that. But I’m ready either if she’s going to be aggressive or a little bit more slow in the start. We were working on my gameplan in every aspect she can give me so whatever happens, I’m ready.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 76 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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