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Tracy Cortez attributes a number of factors to the growth of her wide-ranging fanbase, an uncommonly large following for a UFC debutant.
Cortez (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is ready to add to her popularity when she takes a step up to the big leagues at this weekend’s UFC on ESPN+ 22 against Vanessa Melo.
But she hasn’t achieved this feat through a typical “Insta-famous” route many other influencers take. Cortez attributes her success on social media as a result of being real and interacting with fans, even as it becomes more time-consuming.
“I’ve been building my followers,” Cortez told MMA Junkie. “I kind of take pride in that because my fans go hard for me, and I love my fans. I honestly don’t just post and not interact. I try to interact with every single person who leaves me a comment or sends me beautiful messages.
“I think they see that. They see that I’m a normal person chasing their dream. I don’t put on a front and I think that’s how they started flocking to me. I don’t know why they follow me, but they follow me.”
The relationship between Cortez and her fans is a two-way street, according to the Fight Ready MMA product. She sees great value in promoting a real version of herself on social media.
The 25-year-old Arizonan views fighters as a commodity. They need to sell themselves to the fans and give them a reason to watch. Through her outreach on social media and in-person, Cortez believes she’s done just that.
“As fighters, we’re entertainers, and we really have to let people know who we are outside of the cage and get that connection with our fans,” Cortez said. “That’s what I try to do. I want everyone to know that I’m just a regular person just like everyone else. I’m just working hard. I have big dreams, and I don’t let fear stop me.”
On brand with her “being real” theme, Cortez opened up on the mix of emotions she’s taking with her into Saturday’s matchup against Melo (10-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC).
“Honestly, I’m excited,” Cortez said. “I was just talking to my coaches about how, man, we worked hard for this. I say ‘we’ because they’ve been a part of this journey for me. My coach Santino Defranco, he knows how hard I’ve been working. I’m actually going to fight for something I’ve been training so long for. I’m going through every emotion right now.”
This mix of emotions doesn’t weigh her down, according to Cortez. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It gives her the “push” she needs to stay motivated, stay focused, and attack the task at hand.
“I’m fighting for something that I always wanted,” Cortez said. “It makes training easier.
“Now? We’re here.”
UFC on ESPN+ 22 takes place Saturday at Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo. The card streams on ESPN+.
News | MMA Junkie