LAS VEGAS – Viktoriia Dudakova was the only winner to go the distance Tuesday at Dana White’s Contender Series 52.
Because of that, there was a little concern that she might not get a UFC contract given the other four winners had highlight-reel type finishes. But White saw something in her performance and demeanor that put her over the top, and for the third straight week, each winner on the show got a UFC deal.
“I’m very happy. (Getting to the UFC is) something that I was working on so hard,” Dudakova said at her post-fight news conference at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “I was worried really bad (I wouldn’t get a contract), but it seems like Dana saw something about me.”
Dudakova (6-0) said an injury that happened after she got to the U.S. hampered her in the fight. It kept her from fully training in the final weeks before her women’s strawweight bout against Maria Silva (8-1).
She said an MRI will determine just how bad she’s hurt, but that she’s “ready to fight anybody at any time.”
White saw that, too, and the fact she fought through an existing injury and persevered helped make up his mind to give Dudakova a UFC contract.
“Everything about her sold me,” White said. “She’s hurt. She even walked down the stairs acting like she wasn’t hurt after the fight. … I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fighter mentally, physically and emotionally strong as that girl is.
“She’s a beast, and she just walked up to me and said, ‘I’m going to be a world champion.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t doubt it. What I saw from you tonight, I don’t doubt it.’ She beat the more experienced girl, the bigger, stronger girl, and absolutely dominated her.”
Check out Dudakova’s full post-fight interview in the video above.