ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Claudia Gadelha might not be in the "Ultimate Fighter" house right now, but she still has some unfinished business with a pair of castmates.
Gadelha was supposed to challenge Carla Esparza for the Invicta FC women’s strawweight crown last December, but fell ill after weigh-ins and had to pull out of the bout the night before. Esparza speculated on Twitter that Gadelha had a bad weight cut, prompting her trip to the hospital, which Gadelha denies. That ignited a full-fledged Twitter beef between the two and Esparza’s friend and fellow fighter Felice Herrig got involved, too.
Esparza and Herrig are both currently in Las Vegas filming "The Ultimate Fighter 20." Gadelha is here, about to christen the 115-pound women’s division in the UFC by fighting Tina Lahdemaki at Revel on Wednesday at UFC Fight Night (6:30 p.m., UFC Fight Pass).
Gadelha (11-0) won’t get a chance to fight Esparza or Herrig on the show, but the two are not far from her mind. She says there are still "hard feelings" and she doesn’t appreciate how Herrig markets herself by posting risque pictures on social media.
They want to talk s*** just to promote themselves. Those girls are problems. I don’t show my butt in that way.
"They want to talk s*** just to promote themselves," Gadelha told FOX Sports. "Those girls are problems. I don’t show my butt in that way. I don’t do nothing like that. I’m not trying to be beautiful to show [anything]. I’m a fighter and I’m beautiful — I’m natural."
The Brazilian won’t be competing on "The Ultimate Fighter," which will crown the first UFC women’s strawweight champion, because of a steep weight cut. Gadelha loses 25 pounds to make 115 and wouldn’t be able to do that repeatedly over the course of six weeks while being in the house. Gadelha and her coach at Nova Uniao, Andre Pederneiras, made the choice after she was acquired from the UFC from Invicta late last year.
"I would have to lose 10 pounds and maintain that weight inside the house to make that happen," Gadelha said. "It would be very hard for me."
So, now she’ll take a different path. As one of the very best women’s strawweights in the world, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt could be in line for a title shot once TUF concludes. That is provided she can beat Lahdemaki on Wednesday night in the division’s inaugural fight. Gadelha, 25, is currently a 4-to-1 favorite against the fellow grappler.
Her most significant foe might actually be the scale. On Monday, Gadelha said she still needed to lose six more pounds before weighing in Tuesday afternoon. It has been tough for her, but she was in good spirits. Gadelha doesn’t anticipate falling ill like last time.
"I left the hotel in the ambulance and everybody saw that," Gadelha said. "I went to the hospital. I wanted to fight, but the doctor said, ‘No, you can’t fight.’"
Gadelha maintains that her sickness, a bacterial infection, had nothing to do with cutting weight. Esparza and Herrig speculated otherwise on Twitter and that’s how the beef started. It hasn’t ended, either.
"They want to talk s***, they want to promote themselves in this way," Gadelha said. "If that’s the way they think is the right way, it’s their problem. There’s hard feelings still about what they [said] on Twitter, because they were wrong. … I just think if you’re a fighter, you don’t see me showing my butt in that f***ing way. I don’t think that’s the right way. You can do photos, you can show your body. But getting there and getting the opportunity the UFC gives you, to weigh in and show your butt and say ‘Hey, here I am, I have a butt,’ I don’t think that’s cool."