WWE fans may know the story of Paige’s mother wrestling a match while pregnant with her, but this story ups the ante on pregnant athletes competing.
Brazilian MMA fighter Kinberly Novaes not only participated in an MMA bout while being several months pregnant, but actually won a championship in her native country — the Noxii 115 Pound Title.
Noaves defeated Rentana Balden by unanimous decision on May 17, and was expected to make her debut for RFA (Resurrection Fighting Alliance) on Aug. 21. However, Noaves was having difficulty making weight no matter what she did. She finally agreed to see a doctor, and that’s when she found out there was a decent reason why the extra pounds weren’t coming off: She was 24 weeks pregnant. Via MMAFighting.com:
“I’m a little stubborn, I don’t like to go to the doctor,” Novaes said with a laugh. “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 was cutting weight for my RFA debut, but couldn’t lose weight. I did a stricter diet four weeks before the fight, and I actually gained 2.2 pounds in six days. I was desperate. I realized my belly was hard, so I thought I had some intestine issue. I took laxative and other things, but a guy that does massages for me told me to go to the doctor.”
“I finally decided to go to the hospital, and the doctor immediately asked me if I was pregnant,” she continued. “I insisted I was not, that I had an intestine issue, but he asked for a blood test. One hour later, he told us I was pregnant. I cried a lot, ran out of the hospital, but I realized that was good news. I thought I was sick, but I had a baby instead.”
Noaves did the math and realized that she was around 12 weeks pregnant when she defeated Balden in May.
While the story has a happy ending (Noaves says the baby is healthy and strong), this was a potentially fatal situation that falls on the promotion for not doing proper testing of its fighters. Noxii is not regulated by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, so they are not held to a strict standard of testing. Promoter Bruno Barros took responsibility for the mistake of letting Noaves fight by saying:
“I didn’t even think about the possibility of a woman fighting while pregnant, going through a camp and dehydrating and everything.”
“That was my first event,” he continued. “I asked for HIV and hepatitis tests, but some fighters didn’t send me the results. I didn’t pull them out of the fights because they all wanted to fight. Some fighters claimed they had no money to pay for the tests, others said they didn’t have time to do it, but that’s my fault that I let them fight anyway. But thank God everything is fine with the baby.”
So because some fighters just didn’t feel like sending in HIV and hepatitis tests, Barros basically just said eh, screw it and let them fight anyway. This is how the sport of MMA can become extremely dangerous.
Barros and Noxii are incredibly fortunate that nothing serious happened to Noaves or her baby, and Brazilian MMA as a whole can hopefully take this as a teaching moment to prevent an incident like this happening again.
As for Novaes, she expects to return to the ring some time next year.