How a fighter’s quest for Zumba classes turned into an MMA career

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When Victoria Souza first walked into her gym, she was looking for Zumba classes to unwind from work. But when she realized that Zumba wasn’t an option, she stumbled upon mixed martial arts. The rest is history.

Fast forward several years later and the undefeated 24-year-old Souza (5-0) is set to make her ONE Championship debut against the much-vaunted Victoria Lee (2-0), younger sister of the ONE Championship holders. Angela and Christian Lee.

“My professional career has been meteoric,” Souza told MMA Junkie. “I started in 2017. I joined the Team Tavares academy looking for a Zumba class to de-stress me from my work as an accountant. I was told there was no Zumba. My choices were muay thai and jiu-jitsu. I joined Muay Thai. I liked it and continued to train.

Souza, who is Brazilian, said she had her first training sessions with UFC veteran Thiago Tavares after six months of training. During a training session, Souza remembers shooting his partner down and doing ground strikes, which is not allowed in Muay Thai.

“I was confused since I saw fighting going on on the ground on television,” Souza said. “It was explained that only MMA allowed this. It was then that I decided to pursue MMA. I started jiu-jitsu classes. I have participated in several tournaments and won titles in kickboxing and jiu-jitsu.

“In jiu-jitsu, I participated in tournaments in South America and Abu Dhabi. In kickboxing, it was a Pan American tournament and two Brazilian tournaments. In 2018, I started a real MMA training. I made my amateur debut in 2019 and professional in 2020. I went undefeated with one amateur win and five wins as a pro. Fortunately, my record gave me access to the biggest promotion in Asia.

Suffice it to say, Souza can’t wait to make his promotional debut against Lee on Friday when the ONE Championship: Revolution main card opens.

“My opponent is a great athlete,” said Souza. “She’s a complete fighter. She is good at both hitting and grappling. She doesn’t run away from a fight. We have studied his videos a lot. From there, we built the best strategy. I am also complete. I can hardly wait. I am working very hard to achieve this victory.

ONE Championship: Revolution takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The card is broadcast on the ONE Championship app.

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