Necessity was the mother of re-invention in Iasmin
’s case.

“I got started in martial arts very early on,” she told “In truth, I went in for self-defense after witnessing
domestic violence in my own family. After that, I found myself
enjoying it very much.”

What started with kickboxing eventually led to a professional mixed
martial arts debut at the age of 15, as Lucindo took care of
with third-round punches at a regional event in Brazil on
May 10, 2017. “I kept at it,” she said. “I loved doing it. It’s
where I found myself. It’s how it all started.” Lucindo fought 12
times—she went a respectable 8-4—before reaching adulthood, all
while accruing invaluable experience.

“During the past six years in MMA, I’ve been put in all kinds of
situations,” she said. “I’ve won by decision, submission and
knockout. Even though I’m very young, I believe MMA greatly helped
me mature. I’m not undefeated. My losses taught me a lot. They
helped me mature as a professional and as a person.”

Now 21, the Fight House representative will make her second
appearance in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
when she squares off with
in a
UFC Fight Night 222
women’s strawweight showcase on Saturday at
the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Lucindo came up short in her Octagon
debut, losing a unanimous decision to Yazmin
under less-than-ideal circumstances in August.

“It was a big lesson,” she said. “She’s very tough and undefeated.
She’s a Mexican fighter with strong striking ability. I didn’t have
much time to get ready. It was less than a month. I had to drop
weight classes. Many people don’t know this, but I used to fight at
[125 pounds]. I was expecting to fight there but I also knew I
could be called to fight at [115 pounds], and that’s what happened.
I was a bit heavy. The hardest part was my weight cut. I had to
drop [26.5 pounds] in less than a month.

“There were also other unexpected factors, like medical exams and
getting organized for the fight,” Lucindo added. “On top of that, I
had to train. I did like my performance against Yazmin. I was truly
myself. I fought from the heart until the very end. I did
everything I could. I learned that despite any problems, we can
always give our best. I did that despite all the difficulties
behind the scenes.”

Walker stands as her next test. A short-notice replacement for
, the Guam-based California native was a finalist on
Season 30 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Walker has lost
three of her past four bouts after starting her career 6-0 but
presents a unique set of challenges inside the cage.

“I had been getting ready for Melissa, who comes from a taekwondo
and kickboxing background,” Lucindo said. “She moves a lot. Brogan
is more of a jiu-jitsu fighter and doesn’t move as much when
striking. They’re different, but my mindset and technique haven’t
changed. My coaches keep telling me that it doesn’t matter who I’m
facing. I’ll put on a show. Brogan is someone who likes to fight. I
think she’ll want to strike at first, but then she’ll try to take
me down. We’ll have a fast-paced fight. It’s what I like: a
challenge. I’ll get my arm raised—by knockout, submission or

Lucindo does not mince words when asked about long-term goals. She
has time on her side, along with an apparent desire to put in the
work that will be required of her.

“My goal is to capture the UFC strawweight belt,” Lucindo said. “I
know it won’t be easy. I have to forge my path and fight the best.
I’m willing to pay the price. I’m willing to go through the
process. At age 14, I would tell people that I would one day be in
the UFC, and now, at 21, I’m here. At age 21, I can say I will be
the champion. I don’ t know how long it will take, but mark my
words, one day I will be the strawweight champion.”

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Iasmin Lucindo: Beyond Her Years