‘I almost died’: UFC starlet Norma Dumont reveals her shocking struggle to make bantamweight limit in traumatic cuts before fights
'The Immortal' is about to fight for the first time in almost six months when she faces two-time UFC title challenger Felicia Spencer at UFC Vegas 27 tonight.
The Belo Horizonte native has cut an excited figure in the week ahead of the bout, posing in a pool with a friend and in the sun in a bikini before shaking hands with Spencer at the final face-off – but she has revealed her shocking ordeal that marred the build-up to her last two outings
"Frankly, I almost died in the last two weight cuts," she told Combate, reflecting on a unanimous decision win over Ashlee Evans-Smith last November and a failed meeting with Erin Blanchfield at bantamweight in April.
"I got really sick [and it] caused me a little trauma. So much so that, for two days, I was having trouble getting in the shower because of the feeling. My heart was racing.
"The first few times I talked about the weight cut, I cried. I cried to the doctors every time I had to talk [about it]," she confessed.
"It's really traumatic, because of how the process went. I don't want to go through this anymore, I don't want to suffer that much anymore.
"I want [the weight cut] to be healthy, but I don't want to give up my career either.
"I've always had difficulty getting my weight down [to bantamweight]. The difference is that in the UFC there are some rules for you to cut weight.
"I've always trained since I was young. I've been a footballer, I've been a gym rat since I was 15, and I've been building muscle maturity, and increasing [muscle] because of the training, [through] consistency."
"My biggest problem was that when I signed with the UFC, I went up to 66kg because I would fight [there], so I did a mass gain job being a strong athlete who already had difficulty hitting 61kg, so much so that I had already failed on the scales once outside the UFC as well.
"When I got to 100 pounds, what did I do? I increased the weight, increased the mass and worked to gain more strength."
Faced with a lack of rivals at featherweight after being knocked out by former title challenger Megan Anderson on her UFC debut, Dumont again attempted to drop to bantamweight for the Evans-Smith clash.
Once more, she had difficulties as she weighed in more than 3.3lb above the limit. Thankfully, the American accepted the discrepancy and the fight went ahead.
"We did everything right, we managed to get close but we didn't hit [the limit], so we needed to resolve those issues," explained Dumont.
"We solved the problems and we tried again and it didn't work. The mass I gained to rise in division didn't leave because I have a certain difficulty to lose lean mass.
"I gain it very easily [but] I don't lose it easily. This is a positive feature on one hand, because I am very strong; however, for a weight cut it's something difficult."
"After this fight, we will have to do reverse work, which is to remove the mass I gained to fight the first time in the higher division."
In April, when she was ready to face Blanchfield, the Nevada Athletic Commission was less forgiving, canceling the bout after Dumont came in above the limit – this time more than 3.5lb over.
Wanting to get to the bottom of her dilemma for once and for all, she talked to the UFC and was allowed to investigate at their Performance Institute (PI) in Las Vegas.
"We don't know if we can make weight in the division," her team told the championship, who then advised her to vist the PI to "do studies and see if you fit in the weight class or not".
"We did two weeks of testing and they concluded that I really was too strong for the division. The problem was my lean mass percentage, which was up to the top of 66kg."
"[The UFC said], 'look you really are a strong athlete for the division, you have a very heavy bone density for a woman.'
"'Can you fit [at bantamweight]? Yes, you can. But there'll be a lot of work for four to five months, and we'll change the composition of your body [and] decrease its lean mass so that you can fit into the 61kg division.'"
Frustrated after eating right yet still not making bantamweight, Dumont had to have a frank conversation with her coach and husband Johnny Vieira.
"We got really frustrated because this is what I've said: If I hadn't done my part, I'd be feeling guilty. 'Damn, I should have dieted, I should have trained, I should have done something'.
"But I did everything, I suffered too much, and you're like, 'Man, it's not possible, what's going on? I did everything right, I dedicated myself, I dieted'. Those around me, they know.
"I didn't know what else to do. I spoke to Johnny [and said]: 'Unfortunately, I can't get into bantamweight, that's it, it's over. I can't make 61kg.'
"There was a sense of frustration. [But] I was calmer after I went to the Performance Institute and talked to them."
Understanding that the work to get down to bantamweight will take longer, Dumont requested a fight at featherweight to stay active.
When Spencer's opponent Danyelle Wolf dropped out, Dumont accepted the challenge. After the clash, she will attempt to make 61kg one last time with the help of the Performance Institute team.
"Even though I'm strong for the 200-pound division, I'm small," Dumont pointed out.
"Apart from Felicia, who's a centimeter smaller than me, the others are too tall. It's always going to be a double job.
"Can you I fight tall athletes? Yes, but it's always double work. That was the evaluation of the Performance Institution: 'You have the profile of [a] 61kg [fighter] – you just need to remove some of the mass, which is high, but you have the structure of [a] 61kg' [fighter]'.
"The big problem at 66kg today is also a matter of not having a fight. For example, [by] me beating Felicia, who am I going to fight? With [champion] Amanda [Nunes]? I don't think it's time to face Amanda.
"Am I going to have to walk back and fight Zarah [Fairn]? It's a division you can't mature in, and [look] what happened to Felicia Spencer in the last fight, who fought Amanda but, frankly, took a beating for five rounds."
"In the bantamweight division you have tough fighters in the top ten positions, which will harden you even more until you reach the top. I need this process – I want this process."Also on rt.com ‘You will lose’: MMA temptress Loureda’s corner told her to ‘stop stupid sh*t’ on way to brutal first professional defeat (VIDEO)