Anaheim, CA — Vanessa Demopoulos turned heads when she performed the splits at the UFC 270 weigh-in on Friday.
“Lil Monster” turned even more heads by surviving a vicious knockdown in her strawweight fight with Silvana Gomez Juarez on Saturday, securing a come-from-behind arm-bar submission to collect her first UFC win.
Then she jumped straight into the arms of Joe Rogan. Quite literally.
“I don’t have enough fingers and toes to tell you how awesome I feel. Past 100, whatever that number is,” Demopoulos (7-4) told Cageside Press and other media outlets following the fight, backstage at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The location was cause for celebration, frankly. While Demopoulos recently made the move to Arizona to further her fighting career, the strawweight had long called California home. Her fight being moved to the west coast on short notice was an added benefit, making the win all the sweeter.
“Yes! My friends were here, my family was here. I stepped in the cage, you look around for a second, you know you have a few seconds and I kept seeing familiar faces, and I could hear people cheering that I knew,” Demopoulos said of the experience. “It was so amazing and so incredible to fight in front of the fans, and especially in front of fans that I know. It was cool.”
After recovering from the early, frankly vicious knockdown care of a heavy Juarez punch, Demopoulos impressed with her grace under fire. And then came the moment where she knew she had the submission.
“As soon as I felt that I had her arm laced and I knew that she was in my guard, it was over. I knew exactly what to do,” recalled Demopoulos. “That was something that I’ve worked on time and time again with Giva Santana the ‘Arm Collector,’ with Santino Defranco guiding me in jiu-jitsu. That was second nature to me, arm-bars are my thing, I loved it. I knew exactly what to do.”
While the splits Friday, and clearly the knockdown Saturday night, weren’t planned, one thing was: jumping into the arms of Joe Rogan during her post-fight interview. “That part I did plan,” Demopoulos admitted. “I wanted to do that so badly, and I’m so glad he was welcoming to it. It was so cool, that was a cool moment.”
While “Lil Monster” is now looking to soak up the moment and isn’t sure when she wants to fight again, she later had a smart response when asked if she’d felt any added pressure, given she’d come into the promotion looking like a potential superstar.
“I’m glad I look like a new superstar, because I am. I am definitely the new superstar,” exclaimed Demopoulos. “So they need to keep their eyes peeled on that. And I didn’t feel the pressure. You know why? Because I wasn’t trying to be anything that I’m not. Just in having this conversation with you: this is exactly who I am.”
Watch the full UFC 270 post-fight media scrum with Vanessa Demopoulos above. More coverage from the event can be found below.