A Day in the Life of MMA Fighter Claudia Gadelha
“However, that was easy compared to the tough life I had in Rio de Janeiro.”
A Beautiful, But Tough Country
“I grew up in a small town called Mossoro in Brazil,” Claudia said. “ Brazil is a beautiful country, but very tough too, especially in the northeast where I am from. I grew up in a very traditional family and my family was against me playing sports, I almost felt like I was in the wrong family because I had that free spirit that always wanted to do big things and my family wanted me to be a princess,” Claudia said.
“I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother because of that, but I used that as motivation to become the person I always wanted to be. I always talk about hard work, mindset, and luck – I feel like you need to be lucky in life to have opportunities and, while luck is far from being as important as hard work and mindset, it’s part of the process.”
Claudia’s first experience with martial arts began at an early age, and she credits her youth as a reason for her discipline in and out of the octagon today.
“I feel like I was lucky to find martial arts at a young age. I know people start even younger today, but I feel like I had the opportunity to use my youth to learn about respect, discipline, and hard work in a martial arts academy,” Claudia told us.
I Wanted to Make My Family Proud
“I knew what I wanted to be when I found martial arts at age 14. My drive to get it done was my family. I wanted to show them how big I could be. My dream was to go back home one day and make my family proud of me.”
At first, Claudia competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from age 14 until she was 18, when she received her first offer to compete in an MMA fight.
“I didn't know a lot about MMA, but I had a lot of experience in Jiu Jitsu, so I accepted the fight and went out there and my opponent submitted in 17 seconds. I loved the adrenaline and the fact that I could do that for a living,” she said.
From there, Claudia moved to Rio de Janeiro, where she began her MMA career with Nova Nova União, one of the best MMA training camps in the world. It was here that Claudia trained alongside MMA fighters like former champion Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and many others.
“There, you see how lucky I am?” Claudia asked.
But it’s not all luck. Claudia’s discipline and skill in the octagon has earned her a 17-4-0 record. Yet, despite her amazing record, Claudia shared that the proudest accomplishment to date has been “making my family proud of me. This is the best gift I got from life. The relationship I have with my parents now is so beautiful.” To this day, the first thing Claudia does when stepping outside the octagon is to call her mother.
The Brazilian MMA fighter is currently number six in the UFC women's strawweight rankings. But Claudia’s ambitions don’t stop here. To get inside the head of such a passionate and driven athlete, we asked Claudia what a day in her life looks like, including her training routines, nutrition habits, and goals for the future.
Training Day Routines
I spend a lot of time training in a small team with amazing fighters and coaches,” Claudia said. “I’m having a blast out here learning and growing so much.”
When it comes to prepping for a match, Claudia said her routine focuses on two key fundamentals – physical recovery and nutrition.
“I try to prioritize recovery today, more than when I was in Brazil, because I didn't know anything about it. All I did was go hard every day. The UFC PI has been teaching me a lot about recovery and now it’s a must for me.”
Each morning, Claudia fits in a meditation routine to help her get into the right mindset for the day.
“I meditate for 5 to 10 minutes and write down my goals for my sessions I have during the day,” Claudia said. From there she aims for a nice big breakfast.
“I love my breakfast, so I cook a very nice Brazilian breakfast every morning to be nourished for my hardest session, which is always in the a.m.,” Claudia said. “I love waking up to a nice cardio session, so even on my rest days, I wake up and go for a nice run or a high intensity session. I work out two to three times a day. Usually a strength and conditioning session and two technical sessions.”
That many workouts in a day will tire out anybody, and Claudia knows that getting a full night of sleep to allow her body to recover is just as important as her day training.
“I have been trying to learn new ways for helping my body and brain stop a little bit so I can rest, but my nonstop mindset can keep me away from a good night’s sleep sometimes,” she told us. “I didn't care when I was younger, but now I know how important a good night of sleep is for my health and recovery, so I do everything I can to have a good night of sleep. I put my cell phone away, drink a hot tea, and take my Thorne Melaton-3 around 9 p.m. to be able to sleep at least eight hours every night.*”
Claudia’s High-Performance Nutrition Plan
In addition to focusing on recovery, proper nutrition planning is another crucial goal for Claudia.
“Nutrition is a big part of being a great athlete. Like I’ve been saying, your body needs the best fuel you could possibly feed it with. I treat my body as a Lamborghini, and I would only put the best gas in my Lamborghini,” she said.
“I start my supplement routine with probiotics, L-glutamine, and creatine. After that I eat my breakfast and then take all my other supplements, like Thorne’s vitamin C, vitamin D, Super EPA, Meriva-SF, and Glucosamine & Chondroitin, Claudia said. “That’s why I love Thorne. I know I’m using high-quality supplements to keep my body metabolizing fast and healthy for all the hard training I do.”
Other nutritional solutions that Claudia incorporates into her routine include:
- Catalyte® – an electrolyte replacement that promotes performance, endurance, and recovery.*
- Magnesium Bisglycinate – an optimized form of magnesium that promotes sleep and muscle relaxation.*
- Whey Protein – 21 grams of high-quality protein that Claudia uses for shakes (her favorite recipe uses berries, banana, almond butter, almond milk, and chocolate Whey Protein) and even occasionally uses for pancakes.
It was Claudia’s sports medicine doctor that helped her start on Thorne supplements.
“He always told me about Thorne’s quality, and that’s how I got to know the brand and use some of the supplements,” she said. “Now that I am sponsored by Thorne and get to use all their products, I feel like I’m working with the best fuel I could possibly put in my body.
Not only do I know that I’m using the best fuel I could possibly use to perform at the highest level, but I also feel safe. I had friends who got banned by using supplements that weren’t NSF Certified for Sport® that they thought were safe. Knowing that I’m not only using the best products, but I’m also safe from getting banned from my sport is very important to me.”
In addition to Claudia’s focus on muscle recovery and sleep, she said that gut health is another important – if not often overlooked – aspect of athletes.
“I feel like performance is very complex – it’s not just about training and resting,” Claudia said. “Gut health is another thing that I try to take very good care of. I take Thorne’s FloraSport 20B every morning, followed by a big glass of room temperature water and Thorne’s L-Glutamine Powder and fresh lemon to get my body ready to receive my first meal.”
Looking Back – While Pushing Ahead
As Claudia reflects on her future, she shares how important her past was in shaping the person she is today.
“I had so many good opportunities in my life, and I feel very honored because I know how hard I have worked, and still do, to be where I am today. But I also feel like I struggled so much trying to find a good formula for me to be happy in my personal life and my professional career,” Claudia said.
“I left my parents’ house at a very young age, moved to a bigger town to train at the age of 15, and moved to Rio de Janeiro when I was 18 years old. Three years ago I moved to America to learn more about tactics and strategies, and it has been an amazing experience, but like I said, during all this time I didn't have my family and I kept having to leave long-time friends to go find opportunities to grow.”
Those opportunities for growth have helped shape Claudia into the fighter she is today.
“I still wake up every day with that drive, and I have learned so much from losses and mistakes, so now I feel like I have found the right formula to be happy in my personal life with all the other things I have going on in my career,” she told us. “I am so excited to show the world how much I have been growing as a fighter. My goal is that champion strap, and I want it more than anything in life.”