“I should be the next one in line,” Lemos told reporters via translator after the ESPN+ event at UFC APEX. “I’ll go back home, rest for a week go back in the gym, and just wait for the opportunity to be the next one for the title.”
Rodriguez was the shoo-in for a title shot with a win over Lemos. The 35-year-old vet stacked four wins heading into her showdown with her fellow Brazilian and planned to fly to New York City to be cageside for Weili vs. Esparza.
Early on, however, Rodriguez was picked off at distance in a lackluster opening frame. Lemos outlanded her opponent 29-19 in significant strikes, per UFC stats, including the hard right hand that visibly stunned Rodriguez.
“We knew that she really liked to set up that back hand, and our strategy was what you saw in the third round,” Lemos said afterward. “We were able to meet her when she started the windup for the punch.”
Lemos didn’t make it into Las Vegas until Wednesday, when she was able to catch a flight from her native Brazil into the U.S. Political protests in her country kept she and two other Brazilians on the card – Polyana Viana and Tamires Vidal – grounded before a chance to travel.
“It didn’t change things,” Lemos said of the protests. “My team and my coaches, we basically kept focus on things. We had to sleep in the airport. Next day, we finally went into a hotel room. My coaches and my team put up the beds and displaced them all, so it made some space to train. We trained very hard, so that just helped keep the focus.”
If UFC President Dana White calls Lemos to New York City, she indicated she’d gladly take the chance. She expects to be waiting for the call to get the title shot she believes she deserves after upsetting Rodriguez. As for whom she expects will be on the other side of the cage, she believes the belt will change hands.
“I do believe Zhang Weili is going to win, she’s a more complete, a stronger fighter than Carla Esparza is,” Lemos said.