DeAnna Bennett fights at Invicta FC 40 on Thursday, July 2. Vitamin D locks horns with Victoria Leonardo in a flyweight feature at the event. It all goes down at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. The pugilistic proceedings broadcast on UFC Fight Pass at 8:00 PM EST. Both aim to get back into the win column here. This being the circumstances after otherwise strong 2019 campaigns for both fighters respectively.
Bennett did not mince words when it came to how her COVID-19 training camp unfolded. “Honestly, it’s been the weirdest fight camp of my life. I’ve had twenty-plus pro fights alone and this is the weirdest one so far. Every fight camp has it’s own little challenges but this has been an absolutely different one.”
The flyweight continued, saying that “When the pandemic started, normally I’m in Jersey but I went to Utah. Because that’s where my mom’s at and I wanted to make sure she was taken care of. So I spent the bulk of my time in Utah with her. My coach was in Jersey so I talked to him via Zoom. He’d give me stuff to do in training and I’d try to train on my own.”
A lot of time in the mountains with her dog Atlas, spending time with her mom, and other recent factors have put things into perspective. It gave a great sense of inventory to Bennett on her life and what truly matters.
“Having that time to reflect on my life and my career. The people in it and what’s important to me. It’s good to have that time to kind of put everything into perspective,” she told us.
Bennett continued, “Things in Utah opened up about a month ago or so. I have all my old teammates from when I lived in Utah and trained in Utah. Thankfully my friend Court McGee helped me stay with training and keeping me going while I was there. I am back in Jersey now working with my coach and fine-tuning stuff for this fight.”
Bennett is back after her Phoenix Rising Series run in September. She got all the way to the finals before losing in her third fight of the night to recent UFC signee Miranda Maverick. Vitamin D tried to get back to action sooner but circumstances intervened.
“I was ready to go again in December. My manager actually had a fight set up for me in December and Thanksgiving, the girl was severely overweight,” Bennett revealed. “So it ended up getting canceled and then they tried to get me another fight. It was canceled again then they tried to get me another fight when the pandemic hit.”
DeAnna Bennett likes being active and not having long layoffs. Bennett’s shoulder gave out in the third fight of the Phoenix Rising tournament though. So a layoff was needed after such a monumental night.
“One of the things on my fighting bucket list was to compete in a one-day tournament. It as nothing like I’ve ever experienced,” she explained. “It’s so hard to train for something like that. Usually, you go into the cage, you fight one person, you get out of the cage, ‘woo you’re done.’ Go celebrate or go lick your wounds or whatever at that point. You get out of the cage after the first fight and my coach is like ‘lay down.'”
Bennett continued, “But I’m so amped because I’m so excited…It’s just being able to regulate that. What’s interesting and going out for the second fight. Going out there, got a submission win, which I was so happy for that finish. I haven’t had a submission win since before I got in Invicta. It was good to have that feeling again. I want that feeling again. Then the third fight didn’t go my way. Miranda was great, that was her night.”
Invicta FC 40
The Phoenix Rising participation just further underscored a deep sense of appreciation that Bennett has for being part of this promotion. “It was such a great experience and Invicta always puts on such great cards. I love being able to fight for them and be part of their organization. The fact that they have those tournaments and have those experiences. I’m so grateful to have been a part of one honestly.”
Though Bennett got reacquainted with some old friends like Court McGee, the pandemic got in the way of some more recent training partnerships from continuing to grow. Lindsey VanZandt has trained with Bennett regularly and despite the lack of togetherness for this camp, there’s still tremendous joy from the two being on the same July 2 card.
“The second that I found out that she [Lindsey VanZandt] was on the same card as me, I messaged her. I was like ‘Dude! I’m on the same card.’ She said the same thing back. I love her. She’s amazing. Even though we haven’t been able to be in the same room training together, there’s still that camaraderie.”
Bennett continued, adding “From having the same training experiences. You can’t take back all the experiences we’ve had in the past. All of that is still fresh and I’m so excited for her…We’re already excited. We’re going to go out, we’re going to win, do our best, and we’re going to celebrate. Because it has been way too long since I’ve seen you and that has to change.”
Just as this training camp has been unique, regulatory measures around fight week are set to take on a different shape as well.
“I’m kind of aware there are going to be a lot more regulations. I know we’re going to be quarantined to our individual camp for the fight week as it goes. Obviously having to take precautions with the masks and just being hyper-aware of what we’re doing. What position we’re being put in. Not having the freedom to go and roam around. Usually, my process is I go to Kansas City and like the day before weigh-ins I just aimlessly walk around the city.”
Vitamin D continued, “Because what else am I going to do when I’m food-deprived and only thinking about making weight on the scale? But that’s going to be different this time. I don’t know if it’s going to be similar to how the UFC was doing it in Jacksonville or anything. I had a teammate that was down there for one of those cards. So my coach is kind of familiar with that and he told me a bit about that experience.”
Bennett’s opponent this Thursday Victoria Leonardo is someone she has a level of familiarity with. That being said, Bennett generally isn’t going to tape study to pick up every nuance of every little idiosyncrasy her opponent has.
“I’ve seen some of her fights. I also train in New York with Erin Blanchfield. That was Erin’s last fight and Victoria’s last fight. So obviously I watched that one because I was supporting my teammate. So I’ve seen some of her fights.”
Bennett continued, “I’m not the kind of person that goes back and must watch her fights… Especially because every fight’s different. I leave the video watching for my coach. He’s the one that goes in there. He makes the game plan, he’s finding what I need to work on, and seeing where she may be more vulnerable.”
As a parting thought from our conversation, DeAnna Bennett stated, “I am just an awkward human who likes to be locked into a cage and likes to fight people. It’s just what I do.”
Listen in to my interview with DeAnna Bennett in the link provided!