Juliana Velasquez Tonasse is a Brazilian, mixed martial artist, born October 19, 1986, in Rio De Janeiro, Brasil. The 34 year-old southpaw judoka, is the current Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight World Champion. She is ranked no.2 in the pound-for-pound rankings of the division for her destructive in-ring abilities.
Fight Matrix ranks the carioca at no.8, whereas Sherdog ranks her as the world’s no.2 flyweight.
She trains and fights out of the “Team Nogueira” gym founded in 2007 by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Juliana was introduced to judo at the very young age of 4. She entered high-level competition at the age of 15 wining several judo medals on the south American circuit. She had dreamed of representing her country at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but wasn’t able to make it. However, she tried her luck at mixed martial arts.
In 2020, she dethroned the reigning, and undefeated Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight World Champion, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.
Juliana Velasquez was not only crowned the new flyweight champion, but she also averted a bit of potential history from happening. Macfarlane’s victory would have made her the first champion in the history of Bellator to have successfully defended her title 5 times in a row!
Velasquez won her amateur debut in 2014 against Lucelia Souza via a second round rear-naked choke. That same year on December 4, she was featured in a Rio de Janeiro regional promotion, MMA Fight Light 4 against Priscila de Souza.
She won that match via unanimous decision. Then she went on to pile up 5 consecutive victories that included capturing the 1RC Vacant Bantamweight Championship via knockout against Rosy Duarte at the 1 Round Combat event held in Brazil in December 2016.
Juliana Velasquez played a leading role in raising awareness and highlighting a campaign on violence against women. In 2013, while in Brazil she was criticized for agreeing to fight a male wrestler making it a female vs. male contest. However, it turned out to be contentious rhetoric aimed at bringing light to the issue of females at risk.
Juliana Velasquez is all set to headline the upcoming Bellator 262: Velasquez vs. Kielholtz event on July 16. It’ll take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena where she’ll defend her Flyweight Championship against Dutch challenger Denise ‘Miss Dynamite’ Kielholtz. It will open to a limited audience due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Now you’ve got the back story on the reigning, Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight World Champion – whose athleticism and judo skills are formidable being always powerfully reflected in her performances – let’s get into the hotlist of Juliana Velasquez’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Na Liang – Bellator 189 (Dec. 1, 2017)
Fighting out of Heilongjiang (China), Na Liang was pitted against flyweight debutant Juliana Velasquez at the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma United States.
Na Liang, at 13 seconds into round 1, attempted a takedown on the Brazilian. However, Velasquez got hold of her neck and exerted a full-thrust guillotine, tightly closing her elbow while taking her in the clinch.
At 2:05, Na Liang went for another takedown but Velasquez effortlessly tossed her with a judo throw and waited for her to get back on her feet. Funnily, Na Liang crawled in the ring on her back to be greeted with a kick from Velasquez.
At 2:58, Velasquez smashed a brutal right-hand on Na Liang’s face as she mounted her opponent comfortably, taking back control. At 4:15, Velasquez went for ground and pound with Na Liang unable to find an adequate response to the assault.
At 32 seconds into round 2, Velasquez got an armbar on Na Liang who hurriedly tapped as the referee intervened to separate Liang from the far more dominant Velasquez. The debutant, Velasquez won via submission.
4. Vs. Elaine Albuquerque – 1RC 2 (May 6, 2016)
Held at Ginásio Nélio Dias situated at Rio Grande do Norte, hometown of Elaine Albuquerque, Velasquez was up to defend her Bantamweight 1RC Championship against her fellow Brazilian.
With tight fists of fury, Elaine took guard, hedging against any incoming attack from her opponent. Hawk-like, Velasquez’s eyes were glued on her opponent.
A low kick from Albuquerque, and Juliana’s focus remained sharp and unaffected. In her favoured, southpaw stance, Velasquez, leapt fowards with the idea of quick decimation in mind.
At 1:10 into round 1, Velasquez shrugs off a kick from Elaine demonstrating some quick handiwork which further shows her intense presence of mind. This psychologically intimidates Elaine and clearly shows how fearful she was in sensing a potentially dangerous assault coming her way.
In round 2, at 2 minutes in, Velasquez throws a high-intensity right-hand punch which just misses her opponent by a whisker. Though in the meantime, she lands left-hand jabs to her face.
At 4:24, Velasquez hurled, a thunderous, left-hand jab causing Elaine to take an unconscious free fall. The referee hurriedly intervened to prevent further damage by Velasquez. Juliana won the match via knockout and retained her Bantamweight 1RC Championship.
3. Vs. Kristina Williams – Bellator 224 (July 12, 2019)
This time, Velasquez was up against Oklahoma’s own promising “Warhorse” Kristina Williams at the WinStar World Casino, in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
In round 1, to start, Williams was greeted with a Velasquez low kick. Williams immediately counterattacks with a high kick on her head. At 1:58, taking advantage of William’s relaxed demeanour, Velasquez pummels her face with jabs and crosses, pushing her back to the cage.
Velasquez continuously changes her stance and traverses the cage countering an incoming assault from her opponent. The carioca, at 1:27, unleashes a brutal, coercive attack with power- packed jabs and punches upon her opponent who, just moments earlier, couldn’t keep her defense intact after looking to attack with a kick.
It looked like no way out for poor Williams, who was forced to endure the assault. Velasquez fiercely charged her with rapid, short-arm jabs to the nose. Kudos to Williams however, for managing to stay alive in the first round.
Williams, coming from a hostile assault, started off aggressively in round 2 with a quick kick to the head – defended well by Juliana. Kristina used her kicks for offense as well as for keeping her opponent at bay.
At 3:10 into round 2, Velasquez punishes Kristina with a brutal left arm jab and rained an extravaganza of extraordinary left-right punches that busted her open, causing her nose to bleed.
The referee intervened at 4:01 of round 2, to call the fight seeing that Williams was helpless against Velasquez’s ruthless aggression. Juliana won the fight via K.O.
2. Vs. Rebecca Ruth – Bellator 197 (April 13, 2018)
Velasquez faced American fighter Rebecca “Ruthless” Ruth at Bellator 197 at “The Family Arena” in Missouri. Flyweight Ruth displayed her agility as she moved back and forth in search of her first attacking move.
At 15 seconds into the opening round, Velasquez adeptly moves away as “Ruthless” charges towards her. Ruth looked nimble in attacking Velasquez with a couple of low kicks whilst closing in.
At 1:52, Velasquez attacks with heavy left-right punches, clinching Ruth towards the cage. The Brazilian clinched in tightly, leaning her entire bodyweight to accelerate her oppression – showing an impeccable display of skill to silence an overtly aggressive opponent.
With close to a minute left, Velasquez executed a judo throw but couldn’t quite execute it to her liking. Rebecca caught her leg looking for ground and pound but the judo specialist found her way out and got to her feet quickly.
At 40 seconds into round 2, Velasquez threw a combination of left-right punches on Rebecca who throws an aggressive kick, the momentum of which took her too far inside firing range of her opponent. Velasquez smartly circles away, resets and takes her position.
Although Rebecca relied more on her kicks, at 2:57 in, she landed a quick left hand that dismantled Velasquez, taking her to the ground as the crowd cheered in appreciation. Quick on her feet, Velasquez brawled with Rebecca towards the cage.
Within seconds, Velasquez drops a bombshell jab dropping Ruth to the canvas before mounting her to inflict a flurry of ground and pound.
Round 3 begins with Velasquez throwing a ruthless combination of left and right strikes followed by a kick to Ruth’s stomach. Ruth collapses in pain as the referee calls the bout’s end at 0:19 of round 3.
Juliana Velasquez was declared the winner of the “striking panache” via body kick K.O.
1. Vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane – Bellator 254 (Dec. 10, 2020)
The Bellator Women’s Flyweight Championship was on the line with Juliana going up against Bellator’s 125-pound champion Macfarlane at the main event, Bellator 254, held at Mohegan Sun Arena Connecticut.
Both fighters were carrying on their respective, undefeated streaks before this bout thus making for a hotly anticipated contest – a match where one or the other fighter’s no-loss streak would be retired.
In round 1, the fighters played out defensively, frequently changing stances in an attempt to strategically out-decipher the other. At times Macfarlane came out, all guns blazing at Velasquez who used her evasive judo moves to swiftly move laterally.
By the last 10 seconds of round 1, Macfarlane was on the receiving end of a Velasquez attack – a thunderous left jab, followed by a right punch.
Round 2 started with Macfarlane hastily attacking Velasquez who masterfully shrugs her off with two, right hand jabs. The round ends with both fighters clinching at the side of the cage.
In round 3, at 1:15, Juliana hammered Macfarlane’s head with short arm jabs with Ilima trying to clinch Velasquez’s legs and lock her into submission. However, brutal jabs from Velasquez left Ilima with a razor cut on her brow, causing blood to drip onto her face.
Velasquez now became more belligerent in her demeanor, sometimes circling her hitting hand, while closing in the distance. She also got a quick, flying right knee in that connected, just on the bell.
In round 4, at 1:14 Velasquez, finding an opening, smashed a straight left right onto her rival’s left eye. Apart from short jab outbursts from Macfarlane, she wasn’t able to mount much offense or inflict much damage.
In round 5, Ilima sought another takedown attempt but Velasquez always had the upper hand in the strength department which was proving just a bit too much for the Flyweight Champion, and the scorecard: 48-47, 49-46, and 48-47, would reflect this.
It was an emotional moment for Juliana Velasquez as she wept while bowing to Macfarlane showing massive respect as they hugged after the match. Velasquez was crowned the new Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight World Champion via unanimous decision.