Norma Dumont has been sent to the deep end of the pool in her still early UFC career.
Reaching the UFC for any fighter is going to result in a sink or swim type of scenario. For Dumont, however, it’s been a bit of a more unique go.
The Belo Horizonte native made her promotional debut in February 2020 opposite Megan Anderson at featherweight. Before what would be a return to action after a two-year layoff and a divisional debut, Dumont was contemplating making a move stateside. Lack of sparring partners and a desire for reaching a higher level with a new set of coaches were big factors in the thought process.
The Anderson fight resulted in the first and only blemish on the 30-year-old’s record as she now finds herself living in Las Vegas with some weight struggles coming along the way. Because of such, the UFC even asked for her to stay to aid in getting everything all on point.
In November 2020, Dumont returned to the bantamweight division for a bout with Ashlee Evans-Smith — her original weight class. Unfortunately, the 136-pound weight limit was exceeded on Dumont’s end as she came in at 139.5-pounds. The fight went on as planned and the Brazilian picked up a dominant unanimous decision victory.
Intending on carrying the momentum over into the new year, Dumont was matched with Bea Malecki for April — only for Malecki to withdraw. Filling in would be a UFC newcomer and top flyweight prospect in Erin Blanchfield. Ultimately, Dumont once again weighed in at 139.5-pounds for the would-be bantamweight tilt — this time canceling the contest altogether.
Shortly after and “The Imortal” was booked for featherweight once again. It was Dumont vs. recent title challenger Felicia Spencer just under a month after the Malecki and Blanchfield April date.
“It was a pretty tough thing,” Dumont told MyMMANews. “I accepted the fight with three weeks’ notice. I had tried to make weight before and it hadn’t worked out so I was still under the effect of weight cutting. My insides, my organs were still hurting on fight day. So I wasn’t perfectly prepared. We knew she wasn’t a spectactular fighter, she’s obviously a great fighter, but we knew that I could beat her in all forms of fighting so we ended up accepting the fight.
“I felt lots of pressure in getting the job done. I’m happy that I did get it done but in that fight, I did what was possible. I wasn’t healthy, I wasn’t feeling well, I really did what I was able to. It was far from an ideal performance. In the third round, for example, I felt lots of stomach pain so I needed to slow down a bit. Yeah, it was a good job but far from the potential that I know that I have.”
Despite her fears being present, Dumont managed to pull off the upset via a split decision nod in what was another sharp showing — this time against a legitimate featherweight unlike the attempt in her debut. Though, as alluded to, the fight was more than just a fight with the woman standing across the octagon.
If the circumstances would have been different, or a single loosely-placed shot landed, the outcome could have looked significantly different.
“On fight day; Saturday morning, I didn’t tell anyone that,” Dumont said of her pains. “But I was feeling a sort of stabbing sensation in my stomach. The only person who kind of knew was my husband. He saw me punching and massaging my stomach so I could kind of warm-up my organs. He would ask me what was going on and I didn’t tell him anything.
“After the fight, I told him about it. I told him that I was feeling a pain in my stomach in the third round and that I felt I needed to slow down because I felt that I was worried about getting punched in my midsection. Maybe I wouldn’t make it until the end of the fight. So I really had to slow down the fight. I wasn’t able to give it my all and knowing that makes me a lot more confident. Knowing that in that performance, if I had been better, I would have been able probably finish it because I would have been able to go a lot stronger against her.”
Prior to and directly after the Spencer win, Dumont made her intentions clear on wanting to gradually work her way through the bantamweight division — a division that has a set of rankings opposed to featherweight.
At 6-1, Dumont is still evolving and gaining experience in the sport. She now just happens to be stuck between the two most baron divisions the UFC has. The heavier of which has never had more than eight maximum—a generous number—fighters calling it home since its February 2017 inception.
Speaking to Combate just days removed from the Spencer bout, Dumont expressed her frustrations of being in this position. Noting how she “almost died” during the last two weight cuts and no longer wants to suffer through the divisional flip-flopping. Therefore leaving her in a position where she must risk her health or her career.
“That’s a really complex subject. It’s actually a very difficult subject for me…” Dumont told MyMMANews regarding if she still wants to make a run at bantamweight. “Because, well, when I first went to the UFC, I told them I wanted to fight at featherweight because if I went to bantamweight I’d have to lose a lot of weight, a lot of muscle. They ended up accepting that so they tried to find an opponent for me — they said they couldn’t find one. So they told me to go down a weight class. We began the process of going back down and it was a very difficult diet, we cut proteins, it was still really difficult to get the pounds down.
“After a while, [UFC Matchmaker] Mick [Maynard] asked me if I would accept a fight against Holly Holm. He said that she normally accepts fights against opponents, she had been out for around a year, it would probably be good for her to go up a weight class. So we accepted it right away and she accepted it too.”
Only three fights into her UFC career with seven overall and Dumont is finding herself tasked with the best that featherweight has to offer — which, for the most part, is all it has to offer. Perhaps even less so in the consistently thin UFC variation of the weight class that is often occupied by current or former bantamweights like in this matchup.
In the case of Dumont’s upcoming Oct. 16 challenge, it will come in the form of a one-time UFC bantamweight champion, the current No. 2 ranked contender in the division, Holly Holm. With Dumont yet to crack the bantamweight top 15, the pairing likely would never be made at 135-pounds — well, all bets are off at featherweight.
“The way things work for me is… I would really like featherweight to continue existing so I wouldn’t have to continue sacrificing my body to make it to bantamweight,” Dumont explained. “The way I see it, things can go two ways. I win against Holly and I fight against Amanda [Nunes] and I win that fight and I bring a new heir and a new feeling to the division. Or I’ll lose and the division will probably die.
“Honestly, I don’t really mind in what division I’m put. I’ll do whatever it takes in both divisions and I made that very clear to the UFC. But the way it seems to me, every other week they tell me something different. Go up a weight class, build muscle mass, we can’t find an opponent so go down a weight class. Then it’s difficult for my body so go back up a weight class. It’s just a little bit difficult. I’m going to fight and I’m going to win, and that’s the most important thing.”
Despite the juggling of training and delivering food on the side to make ends meet, the new Vegas resident is feeling ready and focused for her toughest test to date.
Holm’s boxing and kickboxing background creates a fascinating puzzle for the Sanda and BJJ specialist. While many may try to simplify their approaches as much as possible or worry about themselves, Dumont is all about mastering the art of strategy.
Mapping out “absolutely everything” before her fights, the Brazilian likes to look at all possible scenarios her matchups can have. From imagining round-by-round possibilities to pinpointing minute-by-minute habits, no stone is left unturned.
Now working with Team Maori, Syndicate MMA, and the UFC P.I., Dumont doesn’t expect the Holm bout to be the main event on Oct. 16. If so, she’ll be ready after her recent training and focus on oxygen intake.
“There’s this saying that I like to think about which is, ‘You need to train until your idols become your opponents.’ And that’s exactly the case here with Holly Holm,” Dumont said. “She has a very unique fighting style. Me and my coaches like to say that she’s easy to read, difficult to stop. That really excites me. I like challenging matchups and she’s really, really strong, she’s powerful. When I think about this matchup, I wonder all the time what’s gonna happen. What do I do if she puts me in a certain position? And that makes me want to be a better fighter.
“I don’t like to be the same fighter. I like to change my style. When I was fighting against Megan, the idea was to go forward and always go strongly against her strength. Against Ashlee, my focus was on movement, being quick, and to avoid takedowns. With Felicia, my focus was on counter striking. We knew that she’d try to take me down and I was constantly ready to counterstrike her when she tried to do that. So, I like to plan according to the fight that’s ahead of me.”
Taking on such a highly experienced and credentialed adversary as Holm at this stage looks like a lot to overcome. But Dumont believes in herself and her overall abilities.
When it comes to pressure, yeah, there will always be that internal motivation. But outside of that, “The Imortal” will do what she has to and feels that it’s matchups like these that provide win-win outcomes.
“I feel it’s much to the contrary. The pressure isn’t really on me,” said Dumont. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m very demanding of myself and I’ll always require to be better than I was before. But let’s think about something… if you lose against a fighter who you think is bad, then you think that you suck because you lost against a person that you didn’t respect. But if you fight against a tough fighter who you really admire, you can think, ‘Well, I might not win the fight but if I go three rounds and it’s awesome, that’s already something to cheer.’ Right?”
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.