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LFA Strawweight champion Vanessa Demopoulos looks to earn her keep in Dana White’s Contender Series


Photo: Vanessa Demopoulos gets ready to fight (LFA) 

On August 11, LFA Strawweight champion Vanessa Demopoulos will have her shot at a UFC contract as she takes on Cory McKenna in the fourth season of Dana White’s Contender Series.

After becoming the first women’s Strawweight champion in LFA’s history, Demopoulos will finally have her chance at making it to the big show. Her come-from-behind submission against Sam Hughes just two weeks ago has proved “Lil Monster” is more ready than ever to get into the Octagon.

“I am feeling absolutely amazing.” Demopoulos said. “My life is awesome.”

Although the constant action she is subjecting herself to puts her at danger for increased fatigue and stress, Demopoulos believes that staying active will help her stave these effects off later. 

“It is more of a blessing because I just came out of a camp,” Demopoulos said.  “I was just in camp for a five round title fight. I got to test myself, and it was just a warmup for this. I kept my weight where it was, and I didn’t take five weeks of vacation.”

Demopoulos’ ability to avoid major damage has been instrumental in her performances in quick-turnaround fights. That, partnered with her quick healing factor, has made her a fierce fighter to content with.

“I am kind of a superhuman,” Demopoulos said half-jokingly. “I heal so fast. I am a gritty fighter. The UFC knows that I am always going to be game to get in there.”

Although her fighting skills are unparalleled, her real strength comes outside of the ring in the form of her personality. She is a strong speaker with a magnetic presence that shines through in interviews as much as it does crowd interactions. Demopoulos’ charisma and vibrant social presence is exactly what the UFC is looking for.

“I feel like I’m just so happy all of the time,” Demopoulos said. “I also have so much rage. I am like the happiest little angry person ever. I love people. I am a natural entertainer.”

This attitude is what stars are made of. These traits have served to amplify her position outside of the ring. Inside of the ring however, she has to rely on her other skills. 

“I have to earn my keep,” Demopoulos said. “Every time I walk out on the mat, I have to earn my keep. Every time I walk into a new gym, I have to earn respect. This moment is no different. Nothing changes. I am just elevated.”

Although Demopoulos has been putting her blood, sweat and tears into MMA for years, it was the submission victory over Hughes that catapulted her career forward.

“You work so hard and you know something is going to happen,” Demopoulos said. “It was unbelievable [to get the call for the Contender Series]. When you win the LFA belt, you know it is the golden ticket. You know that something else is coming right behind it. All of those dreams just came true in one second.”

On August 11, McKenna will stare down Demopoulos as both fighters will try and break into the UFC scene. Both contenders found out about the fight and their opponent less than two weeks before they were set to face off against each other.

Despite her about to walk into the biggest fight of her life, Demopoulos still says that it will be business as usual.

“I don’t sleep on anybody,” Demopoulos said. “I fight myself. As far as Cory is concerned…she didn’t just take the year off on cruise control. I know she was getting ready for something [before the pandemic]. I have a huge competitive edge because I have competed so much. I’ve got more time to fine-tune things recently.”

On Saturday, 10 fighters, including Demopoulos, will enter the Octagon at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV for Dana White’s Contender Series.  

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