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Thursday, 10/04/2012, 11:40 am

Exclusive: Phoenix Rising | "I want the women to get their due" | The Tara LaRosa Story Part II | Invicta FC 3


Previously on “Phoenix Rising”, we began telling the story of one of the best female fighters in the world, Tara LaRosa and how she emerged into the world of combat sports. From her struggles with childhood bullies growing up to becoming the top ranked female in MMA, LaRosa detailed her journey exclusively with us and now we will pick up her story where we left off.

Invicta FC is born

LaRosa’s professional record currently stands impressively at 21-2. Her first loss, which was discussed in the previous article, was taken early in her career and she wouldn’t lose again until dropping a very close split decision to her good friend Roxanne Modaferri.

Following the entertaining second bout with Modaferri, LaRosa quickly returned to her winning ways racking up victories over Takayo Hashi, Carina Damm and Kelly Warren before the Invicta Fighting Championship was born.

The ultimate platform for female mixed martial artists had finally arrived but LaRosa wasn’t convinced right off the bat until she learned who would be leading the troops on the frontlines.

“I didn’t really know what to expect [when I first heard about Invicta FC] and I’ve been around for so long that I’ve seen a lot of shows come and go. I was a little hesitant but you couldn’t have gotten a better leader,” LaRosa said.

“Shannon Knapp is the [expletive] and she’s been around for a long time. She’s been involved in the big shows too so I knew that if she was running the show it was probably going to work and it is. Invicta is doing awesome and it is an unbelievable victory for the women’s side of the sport because finally we’re getting recognized.”

The Party starts at Invicta FC 3

With two shows in the books and a third quickly approaching, the MMA community is buzzing about Invicta FC. LaRosa is merely days away from making her organizational debut against Vanessa Porto and is very eager to step in the cage and handle business.

The entire fight card is stacked from top to bottom with intriguing female matchups including an atomweight title main event between Jessica Penne and Naho Sugiyama. LaRosa is stoked for the whole show and the party that will follow.

“Invicta 3 is going to be off the chain and the fights alone are what everyone is going to see and enjoy but you know, the best [expletive] is just going to be being there,” LaRosa said.

“The party beforehand and the party afterward is just going to be ridiculous and a lot of crazy [expletive] is going to happen. It’s always a zoo when we get together because it’s a bunch of chicks that haven’t seen each other in years so this is going to be like a big reunion. There will be whiskey involved.”

Thoughts on Porto matchup

LaRosa’s opponent, Porto is a high level BJJ black belt that is dropping down to 125 lbs following a shocking submission loss to Sarah D’Alelio at Invicta FC 2 in a bantamweight affair. LaRosa was just as surprised as everyone else but doesn’t believe the loss exposed Porto on the ground.

“I was shocked, I knew Sarah was a tough chick but I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t think anybody would be tapping Porto like that. I hope nobody is expecting me to top that because that was pretty awesome,” LaRosa said.

“I don’t think she got exposed at all. Porto is very good on the ground, she got caught and things happen but she’s really fast. I’m not too slow myself and I can scramble pretty well and usually do well in those types of sequences so I’m perfectly happy with it going to the ground if it does.”

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Open season, wants winner of Honchak-Daly

A win for LaRosa would undeniably set her up to fight for the inaugural Invicta flyweight championship down the road. I don’t know Invicta’s plans for the division but it would only make sense to include LaRosa in the division’s first title bout if she is victorious over Porto because not only is she top ranked but she essentially pioneered women’s MMA.

She is certainly not looking past Porto at all but she is looking ahead to what she believes to be a very bright future and has her eyes set on the next potential opponent.

“Hopefully if I get past [Porto], it will be open season on the 125-lbs division. Come one, come all, come and get me. I’m amped, I want to rock because I tell you what I’m not getting any younger,” LaRosa said.

“If I win this fight with Porto, I want the winner of Aisling Daly-Barb Honchak. I think either of the two would be a great fight to determine a champion”

Fight for acceptance

As much as LaRosa would love to be the first flyweight to hold gold for Invicta, her ultimate goal is the same as it was 10 years ago when she first began her professional career and that is to help further women’s MMA to the masses.

“Honestly, I just want the women’s side of the sport to be accepted and embraced the way the rest of the sport has been. That’s my goal, I want the women to get their due, we’ve come a long way and there are so many talented individuals and I want to see the women get the publicity and the notoriety that they’re due,” LaRosa said.

“If that includes me as well then great but if it doesn’t that’s fine too but the fact that I can say I helped get it there is enough for me. I’ve been a part of a lot of awesome stuff and historical shows and a lot of behind the scenes stuff so I’m happy with where it’s at.”

Career prolonged due to the rise of Invicta

With a career dating back to 2002, LaRosa has seen the women’s side of MMA grow from virtually receiving zero respect to being the rising force that it is today with Strikeforce and Invicta. She could retire today with more accomplishments than most but the desire to fight is still burning strong.

“To be quite honest, even without being on the Invicta show, I could have retired and walked away and said ‘mission accomplished’. This is what I wanted, this is what my dream was and that is to be recognized and for the women’s side of the sport to be taken seriously,” LaRosa said.

“That’s what I’ve been fighting for, to be taken seriously for my skills and abilities and not because of how I look or the things I say or who I’m associated with but for how I perform in that cage.”

Invicta FC 3 takes place this Saturday night and will be streamed live and free on InvictaFC.com.

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