Cláudia aka “Claudinha” Gadelha, born December 7, 1988, in Mossoró, Brazil, is a multi-time UFC Strawweight title challenger. The 32 year-old is ranked no.8 in the UFC women’s strawweight division with an 18-5 record (all the latter, interestingly enough, being via decision).
An early standout star of Brazilian women’s MMA with over a decade of fights, Gadelha remains elite in one of the most competitive divisions of the UFC.
Martial arts training began for Gadelha aged 14, having seen a female fight at an MMA event in Natal, Brazil. She met Jair Lourenço, (one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu and MMA coaches in the world) from the ‘Kimura Nova União’ gym at the event and soon began her training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Gadelha found remarkable success, becoming the youngest black belt in Nova União’s history, winning 3 world championships and multiple national titles. Gadelha has remained active in the BJJ community long after her competitive run.
The transition to MMA saw her well-honed grappling skills become critical to a very dominant takedown based top game. Gadelha quickly became a standout for her blast double leg takedown, her brutal slams and the ability to finish off opponents with either submissions or ground and pound.
By her 11th fight, Gadelha was in contention to fight for the Invicta FC belt and was the best finisher at strawweight globally. Gadelha was then fast-tracked to the UFC, to fight in the inaugural Women’s Strawweight bout.
Gadelha went on to be part of a rivalry that put the Strawweight division on the map. Having lost a controversial split decision fight to Joanna Jędrzejczyk in 2014, who later won the belt, Gadelha was pitted against her again for The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale event in 2016, losing this time by unanimous decision.
The animosity between the two rivalled any vintage previous season of TUF and brought more eyes to the UFC’s newest division.
Despite being unsuccessful in the championship fight, Gadelha has remained a consistently excellent competitor at 115 pounds.
Her continued presence at the top of the division while now fighting competitors’ multiple generations younger than her, is testament to the passion, hard work and adaptability of this veteran.
Recently, Gadelha began working with Mark Henry and Ricardo Almeida in New Jersey, with improvements still being evident. Never more than two fights away from title contention, Gadelha remains one of the most important UFC Strawweights in recent years.
So now that you have some background on the fan-favourite submission pro, let’s tangle with Claudia Gadelha’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Davina Maciel – Vision Fight 1 (Dec. 20, 2009)
Maciel was unbeaten in her pro career to this point, having finished her last two opponents.
Gadelha was able to get Maciel down to the canvas close to the ropes. From here, Gadelha sat in S-Guard, whilst Maciel gripped her own arm to prevent the armbar.
Gadelha kicks against the defending arm, before hinging back to straighten the arm. Maciel taps out to give Gadelha the win by armbar submission.
4. Vs. Ariane Monteiro – IFC (June 4, 2010)
Monteiro was coming off a win going into this fight, her previous opponent having submitted to strikes.
In round 1, Gadelha begins the fight, throwing sharp one-twos, looking for Monteiro’s head. A right hand lands, followed by a leg kick. Gadelha dips under a punch, hoisting Monteiro onto her shoulder whilst Monteiro has one arm around Gadelha’s neck. Gadelha dumps Monteiro down and ends up in top side control.
Monteiro maintains neck control preventing the pass whilst Gadelha lands strikes to the torso and moves to north-south position. Monteiro loses control of the neck and Gadelha keeps rotating round to side control.
Monteiro turns to all fours and Gadelha moves to the back, hooking in with both her legs whilst getting a forearm under the throat. Monteiro rolls onto her side and then back to all fours but Gadelha maintains control.
Gadelha extends her legs to flatten Monteiro out. Gadelha tightens the squeeze on the rear naked choke, so now Monteiro has nowhere to roll. Monteiro taps out and the referee calls the fight. Result: rear naked choke submission win to Claudia Gadelha.
3. Vs. Kalindra Faria – HFC (Sept. 25, 2010)
Faria was riding a two-fight win streak and had four TKO finishes among her last five fights.
The fight begins with Gadelha looking to close the distance and clinch. Faria maintains the distance with a pawing jab just out of range. Gadelha counters a jab with a right hand and Faria lands a rear leg kick whilst Gadelha rushes forward with a blast double that takes the fight to the canvas. Through shoulder pressure, Gadelha is able to pass to side control.
With the far side arm trapped, Gadelha steps over the head looking for an armbar but Faria links her arms to prevent Gadelha extending. Gadelha throws several strikes, then hinges back for the finish.
Faria bridges and tries to prevent the straightened arm from becoming fully locked out when Gadelha moves the wrist from one side of her torso to the other, seeking the tighter position.
Upon her arm becoming even further extended, Faria taps quickly and the referee separates the fighters. Result: submission via armbar finish and the win for Gadelha.
2. Vs. Ayaka Hamasaki – Invicta FC 6 (July 13, 2013)
This fight pitted Gadelha against another submission specialist for the Inivicta FC title eliminator.
In round 1, Hamasaki shoots for a double leg in the opening seconds. Gadelha defends and works for underhook position in the clinch.
Hamasaki pushes Gadelha back against the cage and then looks for an inside trip which is evaded. Gadelha then pushes off the fence, landing a knee from the clinch, pushing Hamaskai back.
Hamasaki works to double underhooks and reverses the position, then Gadelha gets an overhook lock and is able to get a takedown with an outside trip. Hamasaki uses a knee shield to prevent the pass. Gadelha lands several ground strikes and pressures past the knee shield.
Hamasaki is flattened out as Gadelha looks for the head and arm choke. Hamasaki continues to block Gadelha’s hips to prevent the pass. Unable to get her leg free to pass, Gadelha tries to soften Hamasaki up with more shots to the body and leg before beginning to work far-side wrist control.
Hamasaki is able to slowly inch backwards to the fence. As the round ends, Gadelha lands more punches and then throws an illegal knee to the grounded Hamasaki in the final seconds. A point is deducted from Gadelha by the referee for the strike.
As round 2 beings, Gadelha lands two straight rights and Hamasaki responds with a takedown attempt. She runs Gadelha to the cage but Gadelha uses a whizzer overhook defence to block Hamasaki from completing.
Hamasaki shifts her hips for a throw but Gadelha shifts backwards then trips, landing in top position. Gadelha controls Hamasaki’s foot to pass quickly to side control, pressuring down with head and arm control and then slides her knee across Hamasaki’s stomach looking for full mount. Hamasaki seeks to wrap the leg whilst Gadelha moves back to the side, and lands several short elbows to the face.
Hamasaki shrimps to her side looking to escape but Gadelha returns her back to the canvas. Hamasaki tries to circle round and almost off-balances Gadelha to reverse the position but is unsuccessful.
Gadelha continues to land ground strikes, and gets a collar tie, using this to pull her leg past half guard into full mount. Gadelha lands several more strikes upon posturing up and then pressures back down when Hamasaki tries to bridge escape.
Gadelha now has head and arm control, moving to the side for the choke. The round ends with Gadelha having the choke fully locked in on Hamasaki.
Round 3 begins with Gadelha throwing a spinning kick into a left hook. She ducks under a hook from Hamasaki to get a back clinch, dropping back to the floor.
With one leg hooked, Gadelha gets under the throat of Hamasaki, but an arm is still inside the choke. She is able to get the other hook to entrench back control. Hamasaki continues to fight the hands and sits up to escape, landing in Gadelha’s guard.
Hamasaki lands ground strikes as Gadelha looks to escape before Hamasaki moves to half guard. Gadelha bases to all fours and shrugs off Hamasaki’s back attack.
Gadelha returns to top position with control over an arm. Hamasaki rolls to all fours and spins for the back. Gadelha is able to get both hooks in as Hamasaki looks to stand but is then flattened out as Gadelha lands more strikes.
Hamasaki rolls over to mount. Gadelha moves between submission attempt and strikes, maintaining her posture. Hamasaki is able to prevent an arm from being trapped and partially block several strikes.
Finally, Gadelha postures up and lands several heavy shots. Hamasaki covers up unable to respond as the referee steps in to call the fight by TKO.
1. Vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – UFC 212 (June 3, 2017)
The fight was a title eliminator, taking place in Brazil, adding a satisfying kind of pressure for Gadelha.
In round 1, Kowalkiewicz takes the centre and backs Gadelha up with feinted jabs. She then steps in, switching stances and landing a right hand.
Gadelha throws minimal strikes, looking to counter with an overhand right as Kowalkiewicz moves in. Gadelha lands a jab as Kowalkiewicz steps forward. As Kowalkiewicz continues to pressure forward, Gadelha is able to check her advance with a lead body kick.
As Kowalkiewicz looks to land hooks in the pocket, Gadelha clinches and establishes a strong collar tie. As Kowalkiewicz tries to make space, Gadelha lands a hard lead and rear elbows on the break. Gadelha then occupies the centre of the cage, refusing to back up whilst throwing shots to maintain position.
Kowalkiewicz keeps switching stances, moving in to land a right hand then sliding out. Gadelha times the next step into clinch, securing a body lock with double underhooks. They clinch against the cage. Gadelha turns Kowalkiewicz one way then reverses with an outside trip to get the takedown, landing in side control.
Kowalkiewicz posts on her side looking to sit up but gives Gadelha her back. Gadelha gets a hook in as Kowalkiewicz gets to her knees and uses her bodyweight to return them to the matt.
Gadelha has wrist control of the bottom arm but the choke is still being defended. Kowalkiewicz throws strikes backwards, which creates space for Gadelha to slide her forearm under the neck for the choke. She is well under the chin but Kowalkiewicz is still fighting the other arm.
Eventually, Gadelha is able to apply sufficient pressure to the neck from the gable grip rather than getting the arm behind the head for the rear naked choke.
Kowalkiewicz taps and referee Mario Yamasaki separates the fighters. Gadelha earns her first UFC finish in front of her Brazilian home crowd.