… As LaRosa recollects “I am the only female fighter still fighting that was on that show, I’m the only one left.”
First loss leads to 15-fight unbeaten streak
LaRosa would go on to win her next two bouts before taking her first of only two career losses, a lopsided defeat at the hands of Jennifer Howe in 2003. They say the true measure of a warrior is not what they do in victory but how they recover from the turmoil of defeat and LaRosa recovered in a big way winning 15 consecutive fights without taking another loss until 2010.
“I think that first loss definitely light a fire under me. When I fought Jen Howe I was still a rookie and she was like the top chick in the sport at the time. She had the most fights and I had no wrestling or real standup training, I was just pretty good at jiu-jitsu and Judo,” LaRosa said.
“I took that fight on two weeks’ notice and the weight cut was tough. It was all experience and if had went to the ground it probably would have been a different ball game but it was all experience. She just knocked me down and knocked the [expletive] out of me repeatedly and I would just get back up. I didn’t have the ring savvy that she did so I learned a lot from that loss.”
Learning is an understatement, LaRosa evolved into a wrecking machine after that fight. She dominated and beat some of the best fighters in her division back then including names like Hitomi Akano, Julie Kedzie, Shayna Baszler and Alexis Davis to name a few.
Multiple insiders began ranking her as the top pound-for-pound female in the sport but she was overshadowed by another female who was emerging into a superstar.
The Gina Carano Era
In the summer of 2008, an upstart organization known as Elite XC promoted the first primetime MMA event with a major television network on CBS. On that night, women’s MMA was introduced to a new audience as Gina Carano captured the hearts of every male in the crowd and those watching at home.
A devastating Muay-Thai specialist, Carano was certainly a talented fighter but LaRosa wasn’t fond of the way she was put in the spotlight due to her good looks and marketing.
“Oh yeah, in the beginning [of the Gina Carano era] I was definitely frustrated because I was like ‘oh my God, I’ve been working so hard at this for years and now all of a sudden this chick decides to pop up and she has a famous dad and she’s with this big company that can market her and I was like what the hell? What about me?’ I was pretty disgusted about it because everybody overlooked me and all of a sudden it was the ‘Gina Carano show’,” LaRosa said.
“When I would go to places and people would find out that I do MMA, and this is in like Wal-Mart and places like that, people would go ‘oh my God, are you Gina Carano?’ or ‘oh my God, do you know Gina’ and it was ridiculous.”
Carano’s popularity as the face of women’s MMA angered LaRosa for quite some time but eventually it became an extremely positive thing for female fighters across the globe.
“It took a little while to get used to but it actually became great for all of us because many women were starting to emerge into the spotlight with Gina and people started to realize that it’s not just one person, there’s several of us so it worked out for the best,” LaRosa said.
“Then Cyborg came around and ended Gina and she was the [expletive] and now Ronda has popped up and she’s the [expletive] so people are now understanding that there are lots of chicks in MMA.”
Stay tuned for part II with quotes from LaRosa about Invicta FC, upcoming matchup with Porto and moreTags: featured, Gina Carano, invicta fc, invicta fc 3, Phoenix Rising, Tara LaRosa, Women's MMA