By Adrienne Meehan | 8/3/19 — Polyana “Dama de Ferro” Viana, the Iron Lady, will fight her second UFC bout on Saturday against JJ Aldrich. The 26-year-old strawweight from Brazil is on a 6 win streak. Her professional MMA record stands at 10 wins, 1 loss, with 4 of her wins by knockouts and 6 by submission – her only loss was by decision. She fights for Tata Fight Team and holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Viana grew up in a small town in the Brazilian state of Para where she was a gas station attendant and college student. In 2013 she started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and by December 2013, she made her MMA debut. During this time, she won many jiu-jitsu tournaments in multiple states and won 5 out of 6 MMA fights.
Viana’s path to the UFC was an unlikely one: in her home state of Para, women’s combat sports were not common or popular. Viana could not rely on sponsors, often had to pay to compete, and rarely won money. After proving herself in MMA and in jiu-jitsu at the Mundial tournament in 2015, she started fighting with Jungle Fight. She won the strawweight title belt in the same year. Despite her success in MMA and the fact that she finished all but one of her wins in the first round, Viana’s fights were postponed and rescheduled continuously. After becoming frustrated with the delays, she forfeited her title belt so she could return home to her mother and son.
The Iron Lady did not give up in the face of these challenges. Instead, she contacted Alex Davis, the agent of one of her previous opponents. Davis realized he had a talented fighter, without access to the resources she needed, asking for his help. He recommended she train with Tata Fight Team in Rio de Janiero. There, she trained for another MMA fight against Pamela Ferreira, which she won by submission in the first round. Afterward, she was signed by the UFC and her debut fight was in February 2018 in her home state of Para. She won her fight against Maia Stevenson by submission in the first round.
After her success in the UFC, Davis suggested Viana move to Las Vegas, Nevada but she refused. She says Tata Fight Team is like a family to her, and that Tata Duares is like the father she never had. Viana believes she will climb the ranks to top 10 soon and hopes for a chance at the strawweight title belt.
Her opponent this Saturday, JJ Aldrich, has been training martial arts since she was 9 years old. While Viana is known for her grappling, Aldrich is known for her striking. Viana says she is not intimidated by Aldrich, even though Aldrich holds a higher belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Aldrich has been fighting professionally since 2014 and holds a record of 6 wins, 2 losses. She currently has a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Both women have overcome great obstacles to prove themselves as fighters and make it to where they are today.