Kristi Lopez has been preparing to be a fighter her whole life, and her promotional debut at Bellator 182 will be a culmination of her journey so far.
For Kristi Lopez, her Bellator debut on August 25 is about more than joining one of the largest promotions in the world. It’s validation for what has been a trying several years as she’s fought to get back into the cage as a professional. The She-Wolf, or as she calls herself “Loba,” has encountered the familiar hurdles fighters face as they try to break into the upper echelon of the professional circuit. However, she is now arriving at the right time as Bellator’s flyweight division is easily the most stacked in the world.
The first thing that stands out when looking at Lopez’s record is that both of her fights took place in 2014. That has not been from lack of trying. Not documented on her record was her exhibition bout for The Ultimate Fighter 23 where she lost to eventual cast member JJ Aldrich. Unfortunately, her time before and after TUF had more than its fair share of obstacles. “There’s a lot that goes on between your personal life, injuries, and opponents backing out so it was a combination of all those things that lead to my long time off before and after (TUF).”
Normally, that would be more than enough to discourage a less-motivated fighter. For Lopez, the adversity had the opposite effect. In regards to continuing her career after her struggles, Lopez said, “…that just made me want it that much more. Sometimes when things are taken from you, you appreciate them that much more.”
If it sounds like Lopez has been working for this her whole life, it’s because she has.
“I grew up with all brothers and a cousin, so I was the only girl in my family. Basically, since birth, I’ve been prepped and conditioned to be a fighter. Having that many boys in my house definitely made me tough. My dad and my brothers were boxers so I always was around that fighting atmosphere and fighting spirit. I saw Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie fight MMA and I was just hooked. I had no idea that girls fought in a cage and it’s such a freestyle form of fighting. I went to the gym specifically with the intention of becoming an MMA fighter and training and I just knew that it’s what I wanted to do. I knew that’s what I wanted to do and what I’m supposed to do. For the past seven or eight years, I’ve just kept the ball rolling like that.”
In the Bellator flyweight division, that’s exactly the motivation needed to break through the rankings. At a time when the UFC is about to open their own division, Spike TV’s MMA juggernaut has already been showcasing their talented flyweights. With women like Anastasia Yankova, Emily Ducote, and Valerie Letourneau, Lopez will be diving into one of the deepest shark tanks in MMA.
Even though she will be a new arrival to the party, Lopez is well aware of who currently stands at the top of the division and who is likely to fight for the inaugural championship, “I definitely think Ilima Macfarlane and Valerie Letourneau. I think that would be an explosive fight. They’re very amazing fighters. Right now I see those two girls as the first for the belt.”
While fans may be more familiar with the established names in Bellator, “Loba” isn’t afraid to let fans know what they can expect when she steps into the cage. “I think I’m a really well-rounded fighter. You can expect me to be comfortable wherever the fight goes. I like to hit hard, so you can expect an explosive fight. Fans can expect a hard hitting bout.”
Lopez is entering a competitive weight class, but she’ll be taking on another relative newcomer in Jessica Sotack who is 1-1 in her career. The two women will be the opening bout on a card that is set to have a total of 18 fights. Her night of work will end early compared to her co-workers, and she plans to take full advantage of it before taking in the rest of the night’s action. “I definitely would like to support everyone on the card. Maybe I’ll sneak back to my room for some dessert then come back. I’m looking forward to some chocolate cake, some ice cream maybe after the fight, and then maybe I’ll come back down.”
Lopez has made it clear that there will be plenty of chocolate ice cream with a victory, and she’s ready for everyone to see what she can do.
Kristi “Loba” Lopez will be taking on Jessica Sotack at Bellator 182 on August 25, live on Spike TV.