Las Vegas, NV — Women’s strawweight Cheyanne Vlismas appears to have been on an emotional roller coaster in the weeks ahead of UFC Vegas 44 on Saturday.
There’s no question her performance against Mallory Martin saw her on an up. Vlismas (7-2) looked as sharp as ever coming back from a battle with COVID-19. “I think I did okay,” she told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “I mean I don’t really know until I watch, but my coaches said I did alright. They said I’d be proud.”
In her in-cage interview, Vlismas talked about hitting rock bottom in recent weeks. It’s a subject she wasn’t ready to expand on, but one hard to ignore. Ahead of the fight, she reverted back to her maiden name, after joining the UFC alongside husband JP Buys.
“A lot of personal things I won’t talk about, but as far as my personal life, I mean, that’s personal life, this is work life,” she stated backstage at the Apex on Saturday. “But the COVID really messed me up, I was a COVID patient just two weeks ago. If I didn’t have my coaches who believed in me, my best friend, and my parents, then I wouldn’t be here. And the power of believing in myself.”
“When I got the fight, I was coughing up a lung, I was quarantined in my house,” she continued. It was just 18 days ago that she got the call to compete at UFC Vegas 44. “I didn’t know if I was going to heal. But I believe in my skill, I believe in me, I believe in my coaches and my team. I just called them, and they’re like ‘let’s do it.'”
Her parents, Vlismas admitted, thought she was nuts. And Vlismas herself owned up to being a bit nervous, “because I couldn’t even breathe.” But having 18 days to heal up, and spending a whole week with her coaches back in the gym, “was a blessing. It could always be worse. Anything in life can always be worse, and I’m just glad we were able to push through it.”
One thing that stood out in the fight was Cheyanne Vlismas’ gas tank, especially given her recent battle with COVID-19.
“It wasn’t easy. It was not easy, let me tell you that,” she told Cageside Press when asked about getting her cardio back to where it had been. Her best friend, who was in her corner on Saturday, was the first person she turned to; the pair sparred in the park trying to get her back into fight shape. “Let me tell you, I was gassing within like two minutes. It was nerve-wracking, but she just looked and me and just kept telling me ‘Cheyanne, you were in shape before this fight, Cheyanne, just believe in yourself, you can do this, you can push through, we’ve just got to get your lungs right.'”
It paid off in the end. And while Vlismas doesn’t want to think about rankings at this point, she knows there’s still plenty of road to travel.
“I’m 26 years old, I have a long career ahead of me. I’m healthy. Right now, I’m going to need to take the next couple months off the handle some things that I tried to push off to get here. But I’m preparing to come back in the next five to six months hopefully, if not sooner.”
As for the personal struggles she’s had to endure, Cheyanne Vlismas added “when I woke up today, I woke up in tears. I was just so happy to be here. Just don’t ever let anyone or anything ever stop you from just making yourself happy and living your dream.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 44 post-fight press conference with Cheyanne Vlismas above.