“Honestly, I never expected that,” DeAnna Bennett said of the reception she received at San Jose’s SAP Center on Saturday.
Bennett, who faced former women’s flyweight title challenger Alejandra Lara, came away with a unanimous decision win at Bellator 266. Coming home to California’s bay area, she received a hero’s welcome, which clearly blew her away.
“I’m just a weird kid that likes to fight. I’ve been socially awkward my whole life. Some people get the mute DeAnna, which is most people. Then once you break that barrier, you can ask my coach behind you, he’s like ‘this girl doesn’t ever shut up.'” Even backstage prior to walking out, Bennett could hear the crowd. “They’re cheering for me. That’s weird,” was her immediate reaction. “This is amazing.”
The crowd added “a whole other level to the excitement that I felt when I got into that cage,” in an arena she had been to numerous times before, not to fight, but to take in events as a fan. And the fight was even more emotional, given that her late father had worked as a police officer at that very same venue in years past. Ahead of the fight, she had spoken frequently about the fight being in honor of his memory.
Sadly, Bennett’s father passed away from cancer in 2016. His last words were to encourage his daughter in her fighting career. “All he could say were one or two words. And the words that he chose to [say to] me was ‘Fight.’ And he’d throw his hands, and he’d say ‘fight!” and throw his hands. That’s the legacy that I want to live up to. He knew that that’s what I wanted to do, and that was what I’m meant to do. I want to fulfill that, and get my way to the top.”
Moving forward, Bennett said she could “definitely, definitely see a rematch with Liz Carmouche in the future. Not necessarily the next one. She’s had a couple of wins, and I believe she’s rightfully the next in line for the title shot. I believe she deserves it with everything she’s done, and she’s an excellent competitor.” Before Carmouche, then, there’s “4, 3, 2, 1” in terms of the rankings, given Alejandra Lara was ranked #5.
First, Bennett noted that she has “some stuff that I need to take care of for me,” though she wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what. Of note, she missed weight for the fight, the second straight occasion that has happened for the UFC and Invicta veteran.
What the full Bellator 266 post-fight press conference with DeAnna Bennett above. More post-fight coverage can be found below!