Making her sophomore walk to the octagon at UFC Vegas 46 will be Vanessa Demopoulos. This time, it will come in her natural weight class, strawweight.
Last year, Demopoulos (6-4) dropped a unanimous decision at flyweight to JJ Aldrich, filling in for her teammate Tracy Cortez in the fight. Moving up in weight for her UFC debut on short notice was a matter of getting her foot in the door, though the former LFA 115lb champion isn’t one to make excuses.
“I’m very strong for my size. I’m very strong for anyone’s size. I didn’t feel like I was so outmatched,” Demopolous told Cageside Press recently. “I felt like I put on a good showing, but I also feel like she had a really amazing game plan, and she was so much larger than me.”
The diminutive fighter added that she doesn’t even like putting the size factor into the perspective, “because I’m just not a person who likes to make excuses, honestly. Did you or didn’t you win? But that’s absolutely not my weight class. I’ve never fought even at a catchweight. I did one catchweight as an amateur fighter, and then after that, I was like absolutely not, 115 is my division.”
Demopoulos felt comfortable knowing that Aldrich had previously competed as a strawweight. “I was like ‘cool, this used to be her division, we can go up to that division, we got this.’ And I didn’t got this.”
“Lil Monster” is happy, however, that she went the distance against Aldrich. “I was in that fight until the very last bell rang.”
After the loss, Demopoulos got back to her roots, competing twice in a night at Medusa 1, an all-female grappling event in Mexico back in October. “That was so cool. Getting flown out to Cancun, staying at a super nice resort, I made the cut all the way down to 115 for the same-day weigh-ins, because I’m a professional and I will make the weight.”
After feeling she was “stalled out” in her opening match, Demopoulos had a lot more fun in her second contest of the night. “I ended up getting caught, but I had way more fun doing that, doing some dope jiu-jitsu, showing off what jiu-jitsu to me is. Which is exciting, fast, it’s a crazy game, it’s a high-paced violent chess match against another human. So that was really, really cool.”
When Demopoulos returns to the octagon, she’ll be up against another fighter in her sophomore outing in the UFC, Silvana Gómez Juárez. Technically, Juárez is a replacement for Ashley Yoder, but the change came early on in fight camp.
“It doesn’t even feel like there was an opponent change,” noted Demopoulos, “because we both had such an extended amount [of time]. We both had a full camp.”
Knowing that Juárez is a kickboxing champ outside of MMA, just like Demopoulos herself competes in jiu-jitsu, and knowing she entered the UFC 10-0, “I believe that she’s probably got some confidence walking in here,” she told us. Despite that, Demopoulos is focused on improving her own game. “You don’t know what people are working on in their camps. So I’ve focused on being the best version of myself possible. I’ve never been someone to give much attention to my opponents.”
Vanessa Demopoulos returns at UFC Vegas 46 this Saturday, January 15 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out our full interview with “Lil Monster” above.