Lupita Godinez may just be 5-0 in her professional career, but her Tapology page tells a much longer story. Nearly 5 years ago, when she was just 22, she embarked on one of the more extensive amateur careers for an incoming prospect – one that spanned 9 fights. Although it has been pivotal to her development, she hadn’t always envisioned being an amateur for that long.
“When I decided to start fighting, I had to train for two years before I got my first amateur fight,” Godinez said. “We would usually do 10 fights before we turned pro just to get the experience. If it were up to me I would have turned pro after maybe 5 fights, but I couldn’t turn on my coach.”
And perhaps her coach had the right mindset for this process as Godinez wasn’t really seeing the results she wanted early on. She netted just one win in her first four bouts, although they did include bouts against future UFC veteran Sam Hughes and BFL champion Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels. However, it was more than just not getting the results she wanted. Godinez was having trouble finding her place in the cage.
“If you see my record I was 4-4-1. So I was having a hard time dealing with nerves and being comfortable in the cage,” she admitted. “Once I found the tuning, in my last amateur fight actually, like everything came together and he was like ‘let’s go pro.”
That tuning came in an unexpected place. It wasn’t that something clicked technically. It wasn’t that she learned a new skill or anything of that nature. It was that she found her outlet to relax and that led to the rest falling into place.
“What helped me a lot was dancing before coming out – like just letting all the nerves shake them out,” she said. “And just believing in my skills. I think I was scared to look not good in the cage or not perfect in the cage, which we all know is impossible.”
She’s carried that backstage freedom throughout her pro career as she’s rattled off five straight wins and an LFA title. She feels a lot of her success in that time is due to finding her ability to have fun and the right approach to fighting for her.
“I do everything. I do my grappling and I do my mitts, I dance. I hit mitts while I dance. I just joke around and play around,” she said. “I don’t get super serious – that kind of style is not for me. I tried. That’s why I had so many amateur fights. I tried every single thing. I tried hating my opponent, tried loving my opponent, tried to be super serious… but what works for me is just having fun.”
She’ll look to have even more fun when she takes on former UFC strawweight title challenger Jessica Penne on the ESPN+ prelims of UFC Vegas 24 this Saturday.
You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 2:23.