Canadian bantamweight Sarah (Cheesecake) Moras snapped a three-fight losing streak with a win over Georgia’s Liana Jojua on the undercard of UFC 242 on Saturday.
The 31-year-old from Kelowna, who now makes her home in Las Vegas, stopped the UFC newcomer by TKO at 2:26 of the third round.
The Moras-Jojua fight marked the UFC’s first women’s bout in three trips to Abu Dhabi.
“It feels so good to be the first female to win a UFC fight in Abu Dhabi. It’s amazing,” said Moras (6-5-0). “It means the world to me and I hope it means the world to the people here. I hope more people can get into the sport and it opens their eyes.”
Moras, whose MMA career has been interrupted by injury, raised her UFC record to 3-4-0. It was a timely win, coming in the last fight of her UFC contract.
“I hope UFC still likes me as I’ve still got a lot more to show,” she said.
Jojua (7-3-0) had her five-fight win streak snapped. All three judges awarded the first two rounds to Moras, who took it out of their hands with the stoppage.
Saturday’s main event pitted lightweight title-holder Khabib (The Eagle) Nurmagomedov against interim champion Dustin (The Diamond) Poirier.
French-born welterweight Nordine Taleb (15-7-0), who trains in Montreal, lost by first-round TKO to Russian Muslim Salikhov (15-2-0).
Moras’ Cheesecake nickname came after a friend dared her to come out to her first pro fight to the song “Cheesecake” by the Muppets.
“My friend also said if I came out to that song, she’d bake me a cheesecake and hand it to me as I walked out of the cage,” Moras recalled. “So I was cutting weight and I really wanted cheesecake, so (I said) yeah.
“I’m a huge cheesecake fan. I have cheesecake parties after most of my fights where everyone brings a cheesecake. It’s ridiculous. There’s like 30 cheesecakes and we try to eat as much of it as we can.”
There is more at stake than calories for Moras as she enters the last fight of her UFC contract. She has lost her last three bouts and four of her last five.
“Life seems to work itself out and I’ve worked too hard not to get the win this time,” said Moras. “Things came up in the other fights. I don’t know, I just wasn’t where i am now. I feel like I needed what happened to happen in order for me to be where I am now.
“I’m excited to show everyone who I really am and how I really fight.”
Moras, a member of the Season 18 cast of “The Ultimate Fighter,” has fought on UFC cards in Edmonton, Ottawa and Moncton as well as Las Vegas, San Diego and Austin, Texas. So she jumped at the chance to fight in the Middle East.
“I’m still excited about it. I don’t think that excitement’s worn off,” she said. “It’s pretty surreal. I can’t believe I’m here right now. I’m just so looking forward to it all.”
Despite the pressure of fighting to stay in the UFC, Moras is enjoying the moment. She and partner Cleve Bentley, a fellow fighter, have been documenting the trip on social media.
“He’s one of my main training partners, one of my coaches,” she said. “He’s my everything.”
Moras has sacrificed for her sport. Injuries kept her out of action for 785 days before her win over Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 215 in September 2017.
She returned to her job with Canada Post. And she started a gofundme campaign with a goal to raise $10,000 for her training camp for the Smith fight.
Moras called Toshido Mixed Martial Arts home for much of her fighting career. But she moved to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture and use the UFC Performance Institute for everything from nutrition to medical help.
“I’ve just been loving it,” she said. “There’s a lot more training partners and bodies and better coaching. Just a really positive environment to be around. So it’s been awesome in getting me better.”
She believes the Performance Institute has helped her avoid the injuries that plagued her career in the past.
“I can focus full-time on fighting,” she said.
The Canadian Press