For Jessica Delboni, Wednesday’s rematch with Alesha Zappitella is all business, but she admits that wasn’t initially the case.
“In the beginning, of course, I got very upset with the fight result because I was sure I won that fight,” Delboni told MMA Junkie. “I even said to my trainer that I didn’t want to fight anymore and I needed a break, but God had different plans for me.”
Delboni challenged for the Invicta FC atomweight title this past May, coming up short in a razor-thin split-decision call. Delboni’s frustration was evident in the cage, and it continued as she walked out.
But Delboni soon received an offer that changed her mind. Come back, three weeks later, and enter an eight-woman, single-night tournament to earn a second crack at the title.
“My trainer said to me, ‘Let’s go. You just just won from the current champion. They just didn’t give the victory to you,’” Delboni said. “I accepted, and that was it.”
Delboni (11-3) downed three opponents in the tournament, earning a second crack at champ Zappitella (9-2). The two now meet in the headlining bout of Wednesday’s Invicta FC 45, which streams live on MMA Junkie from Kansas City, Kan.
Tension is high the second time around, with Delboni openly stating she believes she is already the deserving champion, and Zappitella taking exception to that claim.
“It’s business, but it’s personal to me, too, because I need to prove I am the champ,” Delboni said. “I am the real champion. I think I won that fight, but now I need to prove it, and I want my belt.”
For her part, Zappitella has promised wholesale changes despite earning a victory the first time around, changing her camp ahead of the rematch. Delboni isn’t so sure it will matter, gaining confidence from shutting down her opponent’s wrestling attacks in the first matchup.
“I changed a few things for this fight, and she’s said many times on social media that she will put me down,” Delboni said. “I answered saying, ‘Like the last time?’ because she tried to take me down 13 times without success. I believe I won’t get taken down, but if it happens, it’s OK. I’m prepared, and I will get up, and I will knock her out.”
As the rematch gets closer, the talk between the two has escalated, adding flavor to an already important clash at 105 pounds. But the 28-year-old Brazilian hopes Zappitella doesn’t think it’s just some fun and games to hype a fight.
“This is not a joke for me,” Delboni said. “I’m not here to play with her, to talk. I’m coming here to show the people what I am capable of, so I hope she’s ready – otherwise she will get a bad surprise.”
It’s a rematch with emotions involved, to be sure, but Delboni doesn’t believe that’s the real story of the fight. Sure, she’s hoping to send a message to Delboni, but that’s not the primary focus on the night.
“The belt is more important for me,” Delboni said. “She’s speaking a lot about some things. I don’t care. She likes to speak nonsense. She said lots of silly things on social media. I don’t care. It doesn’t change my focus. The fight will be inside of the cage, and it’s there we will see who is the best.
“I’m not going to knock her out or finish her. I don’t want to leave this decision in the hands of the judge again. If I can’t do that, know I will be trying all five rounds.”