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3 Sep, 2019 16:49

UFC 242: ‘She Wolf’ Jojua ready to be part of history on debut in Abu Dhabi

UFC 242: ‘She Wolf’ Jojua ready to be part of history on debut in Abu Dhabi

Liana Jojua will step into the UFC octagon for the first time in Abu Dhabi this weekend, marking a personal milestone for the Georgian but also a wider one for MMA’s biggest promotion with its first-ever women’s bouts in the UAE.

Jojua, 24, signed with the UFC earlier this year and will make her bow at UFC 242 on Saturday, an event headlined by the lightweight world title showdown between the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim belt holder Dustin Porier.

READ MORE: Enter 'The She Wolf': Russia's first female MMA champ Liana Jojua pens UFC deal (PHOTOS)

Jojua meets Canada’s Sarah Moras in a bantamweight bout on the preliminary card, one of two women’s fights at UFC 242 which will be the first the promotion has ever held in the UAE – with Saturday being the UFC’s third event in the country but first in five years.

While Jojua is part of that broader history, she will be out to make a personal mark by improving her 7-2 record with a victory against the 31-year-old Moras at the purpose-built stadium on Yas Island.

Jojua takes a five-fight win streak with her into the fight, but has not seen action since a majority decision victory over Russia’s Marina Mokhnatkina at a Fight Nights Global (FNG) event in Moscow last February.

That saw Jojua earn a piece of history by picking up the promotion’s inaugural women’s bantamweight belt – the first ever women’s professional MMA title to be awarded in Russia.

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Anyone watching that fight would have seen a composed, resilient fighter with a strong grappling game characteristic of fighters from her Georgian homeland, but who also showcased her ability to trouble opponents with her powerful right hand while on her feet.

Jojua’s performances certainly caught the eye of the UFC, which picked her up on a four-fight deal in March, paving the way for her Saturday night debut.  

After putting pen to paper, Jojua told RT’s Ruptly video agency about her combat sports background, including her admiration for legendary American women’s MMA trailblazer Gina Carano, as well the battle with her parents to persuade them to accept her chosen path.  

Also on rt.com ‘My parents were against it, but I love fighting’ – new UFC recruit Liana Jojua (VIDEO)

The fighter nicknamed ‘Mgeli’ – which translates from Georgian as ‘She Wolf’ – will take a big step further along that route on Saturday when she comes up against Moras, who stands 5-5 in pro MMA, but whose ledger includes match-ups with the likes of recently dethroned strawweight champ Jessica Andrade.

Moras may have more experience under the UFC banner, but Jojua has already shown a willingness to step out of her comfort zone in her pursuit of glory. As well as bouts in Russia, the 24-year-old has fought on cards in Kazakhstan and China – including a 2016appearance in Beijing on a Kunlun Fight event headed by Zhang Weili, propelled to stardom by becoming her country’s first ever UFC champion when she beat Andrade in Shenzhen at the weekend. 

READ MORE: 'Remember me!' Zhang stuns Andrade at UFC Shenzhen to become first-ever Chinese champion

Having completed the preparations in Russia's Chechnya, the latest destination on Jojua’s list is now the United Arab Emirates for Saturday’s fight.

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There, she has been taking time out to enjoy the famed bright lights and shopping scene of Dubai, with Jojua’s Instagram account shows shopping trips to the Dubai Mall, as well as UFC autograph-signing sessions and encounters with colorful reigning men’s bantamweight and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.



But behind the glitzy photos, 'She Wolf' will have been gearing up for her UFC bow on Saturday, hungry to make her mark as she enters a 135lbs bantamweight division where Brazilian legend Amanda Nunes is the apex predator. 

Saturday night in Abu Dhabi will be an historic night for showcasing women’s MMA in the region, but could also be the start of something very special for Jojua and her own journey with the UFC.