Since Dana White posted it on Instagram, the story of Polyana Viana and her would be attacker has been blowing up on social media. When I first saw the side by side photos, my reaction was “hell yeah!” Score one for the sisterhood. More power to her and further sentiment in the same vein. However, as Polyana’s story has marinated with me, a few other thoughts have come to mind.
The UFC Strawweight has an impressive professional record of ten wins and just two losses. Undoubtedly, she can handle herself in the Octagon. However, I can’t help feeling that an unprovoked attack, while she was waiting for an Uber (don’t get me started on the relative safety or otherwise of that mode of transport) would have left her more than a little rattled.
When I was in my early 20’s, I was in a Dublin restaurant with my boyfriend when I fell foul of a bag snatcher. The woman, it was later shown on CCTV, had taken my bag from underneath my seat. I was never in direct contact with her, but I was still traumatised. It was a violation. The actual value of the items taken was immaterial.
Polyana has a recorded weight of just 115lbs. Even if she walks around 20lbs heaver than this, she’s still a petite woman. Her mugger looks like a pretty puny and sort of pathetic man. I can’t help but wonder what the outcome would had been if he were more Cormier than Dillashaw. I hope that the seasoned fighter sized up her opponent, and wasn’t just acting on instinct.
There’s also the issue of the mugger claiming he was armed. Polyana maintains the “gun” appeared to be “too soft” and so she was convinced he was bluffing. I would argue that this is not something you ever want to find out you were wrong about.
If you find yourself face to face with someone who wants to rob or harm you, you cannot attribute rational thinking to that person. They are already behaving in a way you or I wouldn’t dream of. The only thing you can expect from that person is unpredictability. Trying to second guess or pre-empt them is a good way to end up in an even more dangerous situation.
My mind has also been mulling over the potential aftermath of this situation. While I am sure no prosecutor in their right mind would take a criminal case against a would-be victim, she may end up with a civil case to answer. The attempted robbery could be reduced to he said, she said, and as she is a trained fighter, is there a case for arguing excessive force? After all he has the bruises to prove it.
Referees always counsel fighters to protect themselves at all times. I am urging the same. If you are faced with a similar situation to Polyana’s, and you have an opportunity to run away, do so. Showcase your conditioning instead of your striking. If push comes to shove, hand over whatever it is they are asking for. Cell phones can be replaced. You can’t.
I have had the chance to talk to some amazingly talented female fighters over the past number of months. Frankly, they are bad asses. The unfortunate reality is that we live in a dangerous world. We need to try to stay safe and avoid as many dangerous situations as possible. You can’t rely on your cage craft to save you.
Written by Arwen Sheridan