The 24-year-old Brazilian MMA fighter Kinberly Tanaka Novaes holds a strange distinction: She is quite likely the only cage fighter to have won a title while pregnant.
While training for an Aug. 21 Resurrection Fighting Alliance match against Jocelyn Jones, Novaes felt sluggish, unable to lose weight as she normally does.
"I’m a little stubborn, I don’t like to go to the doctor," Novaes told the mixed martial arts site, MMAFighting.com. "I’ve been feeling sick for a while, colic, headaches and cramps. I was feeling tired recently, couldn’t even run, and it was really tough for me to cut weight … I did a stricter diet four weeks before the fight, and I actually gained 2.2 pounds in six days.”
She said that she had some kind of intestinal issue and took laxatives to try to combat the problem, but it refused to go away.
"I finally decided to go to the hospital,” she said, “and the doctor immediately asked me if I was pregnant. I insisted I wasn’t, that I had an intestine issue, but he asked for a blood test. One hour later, he told us I was pregnant."
Six months pregnant, to be exact.
Doing the math she and her boyfriend, fellow MMA fighter Jacson Carvalho, realized she had been 12 weeks pregnant during her previous bout on May 17 against Renata Baldan, a victory that gave the Novaes the 115-pound Noxii title.
Noxii is a Brazilian MMA federation that, according to MMAFighting.com, isn’t overseen by the country’s MMA athletic commission, which – like the major U.S. fight promoters like Ultimate Fighting Championship – requires pregnancy tests for female fighters. In the U.S., pregnancy tests are carried out in the same month of the bout.
The promoter for the Brazil title fight said although he could have opted to require a pregnancy test before the match, he didn't even think to do so.
"I didn’t ask for the exam," Noxii promoter, Bruno Barros, acknowledged to the website. "I didn’t even think about the possibility of a woman fighting while pregnant, going through a camp and dehydrating."
Novaes took a number of knees to the midsection while fighting Baldan, but everything seems to be all right with the pregnancy so far.
"We did a morphology ultrasound last week," she said, “and my baby is healthy and strong."
Last Friday, Norvaes and Carvalho took to Facebook to announce the pregnancy to friends and family. While she has pulled out of her next bout, in the post Novaes vowed, “Next year I'll be back to the cages with even more of a will to win than ever before!”
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