In the world of combat sports, some people say you either win or you learn. As a student of the game, Maira Mazar can relate.
The Singapore-based Brazilian athlete, who trains out of Evolve MMA, made her promotional debut against Japanese star Ayaka Miura at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW on Friday, 10 January.
Having earned four of her six wins by knockout, Mazar was banking on her elite striking credentials to finish her Japanese opponent at Bangkok’s Impact Arena.
But once she was in the Circle, Mazar was met with a grappling attack that stifled her plans, and she ultimately tapped to a scarf hold Americana in the second round.
“I didn’t do well. I know I’m much better than that. I’m usually an aggressive fighter, and I have a good grappling game, too,” she said.
“But for some reason, I couldn’t deliver well. To a certain extent, I think not having a fight for a long time made me forget what it was like to be in a ring/cage.”
Mazar’s search for answers led her back to the Evolve campus in Singapore, where she carefully reviewed the match with her team.
“My plan was to wait, hit, and move, because she usually moves forward to hug her opponents,” she said.
“But with me, she changed her style and was only waiting for me so she could grab me easily.”
Mazar managed to tag Miura with a right cross early in the first round, but the Japanese athlete used her wrestling to deny the Brazilian any follow-up strikes.
“When I landed my right cross on her chin and she fell, I felt like I could finish the fight,” Mazar recalled.
“But at the same time, I was afraid of her clinching and tried to pull away. That was when she positioned herself well and really got a good hold of me.”
The ensuing headlock brought Mazar to the canvas, where she remained under the stifling grip of her Japanese rival for the rest of the first round.
Despite the advice from her cornermen heading into the second frame, Mazar could not overcome Miura’s grappling as any attempts to break free proved futile.
“The strategy was the same – to hit and move. In the first round, I couldn’t get up, but I could defend myself. So they were optimistic that in the second round I could knock her out,” Mazar said.
Although ring rust may have contributed to her troubles, the Evolve athlete is not willing to fall back on excuses.
“It was my first match in almost two years, and I felt like I lost the pace of the fight. I was apprehensive and passive with every move,” she said.
“That’s not how I fight, so I was really disappointed with my performance. I know I can do so much better than what I displayed in my debut.”
Though painful, this setback has been a valuable learning experience for Mazar, who is already looking ahead.
“I have to believe more in myself, my strengths, and be more reactive. I shouldn’t overthink it,” she said.
“I’ve spent all my time training for this day. There’s nothing to think about.”
Hopefully, with her pre-match jitters and ring rust now a thing of the past, the 34-year-old can remain active and compete as much as she can this year.
“I’m going to Brazil to see my family, but as soon as I get back, I’ll hit the ground running and start getting ready for the next one,” she said.
“I want to fight as many times as possible this year. Whether I win or lose, I’ve always fought since [I was] young, and I love it.”
ONE Championship looks to top their opening show of 2020 with ONE: FIRE & FURY on 31 January in Manila, Philippines.
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