This Saturday, Invicta Fighting Championships will hold its debut show in Kansas City, KS. The card features accomplished women, such as, former 135-pound Strikeforce champion, Marloes Coenen, as well as, former title challenger Liz Carmouche.
Invicta hopes to give Women’s MMA another platform where women can fight more regularly and create new stars that aren’t named Miesha Tate or Ronda Rousey. Unlike Strikeforce or Bellator which occasionally will feature 1 or 2 female bouts on their card, Invicta will feature an all female card.
One those fighters hoping to make a name for herself this Saturday is late minute replaced, Vanessa Mariscal.
Originally Shana Nelson was scheduled to face off against 4-2 Sarah D’Alelio but a spinal injury forced her off her card. Enter Vanessa Mariscal. Having only two fights despite being training over 12 years in martial arts, Vanessa is looking to show the world she’s more than just a former Royce Gracie student, she’s also a student of the game.
Gerry Rodriguez: You’re a late minute replacement for Shana Nelson, you have two professional fights, your debut being in 2009 and you’re last fight in June 2011. Can we expect you to be more active in competition after your fight with Sarah?
Vanessa Mariscal: You know, I’ve been trying to stay active since 2009 and I’d have to say between 2009 and 2011 fights…well in 2010 I had a big MTV project (featured trainer on “I Used To Be Fat”) and that took up most of my year but between 2009 and 2011 I had 6 fights come to me and somehow vanished. Either I couldn’t take them because of work, or the promotion got canceled, or the girl didn’t want to fight. Last year I was supposed to fight 3 different times and two of those times they were supposed to be Sarah D’aleilo. It’s happened to me so many times I don’t let it trip me out.
Gerry Rodriguez: How did this fight fall into your lap?
Vanessa Mariscal: We’ve been looking for a fight since last June and it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. They (management) immediately called Janet (President of Invicta) and said, “Vanessa is ready in case someone get hurts.” Since I’ve worked with Janet before she knew I was going to be up for the challenge.
Gerry Rodriguez: I mentioned you’re taking this fight on short notice, it’s one thing to be in shape, but fighting condition is a completely different game. What are you doing to make your tank stays full?
Vanessa Mariscal: The good thing about me is I’m always in shape. I own my own mixed martial arts facility. I’m always in condition; it’s just a matter of being in fighting condition. I’m always training my jiu jits and training my striking. For me it’s pretty easy.
Gerry Rodriguez: Does your commitment to Invicta go beyond this one fight or is it a wait and see type of thing?
Vanessa Mariscal: I guess it’s a wait and see. They said just this one bout for now. Janet has come to me with stuff before and it’s gone away. She’s been good to me and anything she comes to me with I will probably take it over most people. I really enjoy working with her. I know Shannon Knapp well and they are really good people to work with.
Gerry Rodriguez: Let’s move on to women’s MMA in general. Do you think Invicta can pull in a niche audience with the more recognizable women fighters competing in Strikeforce and Bellator?
Vanessa Mariscal: I think they’ve got something here. They know how to make this machine move. They got some good people on the card. They’ve made it very attractive as far as the talent and the way the girls look and the marketing of it all. I think that sells anything right? We want girls and guys watching this. People want to see different stuff from just the UFC, which I love
Gerry Rodriguez: Speaking about the UFC, You learned jiu jitsu from a pretty famous guy, a legend; can you tell me what it’s like to learn from Royce Gracie?
Vanessa Mariscal: He’s the reason I moved to Cali, he’s the reason I pursued MMA, he’s a reason behind a lot of my life choices. I haven’t trained under him for so long which is funny because all these people are running with “she’s a Royce Gracie student”, I haven’t trained with him for six years. We have a friendship. I called him Roycee. He’s one of the coolest guys I ever met. To me I held it up there with training with Muhammad Ali because I have so much respect for him. I took a month off of my life when I was 26 to train at Royce Gracie’s gym for five times a week before deciding to move. He’s humble and a great instructor. I’d love to train with him again…It got me started and got me where he got me today.
Gerry Rodriguez: Any embarrassing stories about Royce you can share with us?
Vanessa Mariscal: I used to make him tie my belt just to get him behind me. I played the helpless girl and would say “can you help tie my belt?” He knew I had a crush on him. If I wasn’t training I would watch him teach through the window and he’d close the blinds on me and then open it up and he’d be laughing at me. It was great. Another thing people have to remember is I’ve trained with Vlad Matyushenko for the last five years.
Gerry Rodriguez: How would you compare their teaching styles to each other?
Vanessa Mariscal: One person is patient and the other is not very patient. (laughing)
Gerry Rodriguez: Can you tell us which one is and which one isn’t?
Vanessa Mariscal: Royce is very patient and caring and nurturing about his teaching. Vlad is like “what the fuck are you doing? Why can’t you do that right?” He doesn’t understand that people don’t have the crazy strength that he has. Vladdy has taught me a lot; he’s the one that got my MMA game together. I also train with Antoni Hardonk.
Gerry Rodriguez: It seems like you’ve had pretty good teachers throughout your career and should be well prepared for your upcoming bout. What do you think will be the difference on April 28th and where do you give yourself the edge over Sarah D’Alelio?
Vanessa Mariscal: You can say it’d be that, it’d be this, but a fight’s a fight and anything can go down. I’m hoping my ability and my experience will take it to her. At the end of the day, I’m a fighter, so if I get caught in a position, I have trained for it and know what to do. You can go for a take-down and get stuffed and you have to fight stand-up for three rounds or someone can take you down. You have to be able to change your game-plan at anytime.
Gerry Rodriguez: Women’s MMA has really emerged over the last 5 or so years. At first it was the Carano era, then it was Cyborg and now it’s Rousey. If you could test yourself against any fighter, who would it be?
Vanessa Mariscal: It used to be Miesha Tate, she was very well rounded and she seemed like she kept her head about her. Now I just want whoever has the belt. I don’t really try to pick out any one fighter, just whoever is in my way. I’d love to fight Gina Carano, who wouldn’t? I could care less about Ronda Rousey, she’s too new at the sport for me. I’ll fight Cyborg if she’s clean for two years.
Gerry Rodriguez: Last question. Ultimately what is your goal in WMMA?
Vanessa Mariscal: Ultimately my goal is to get the Strikeforce belt because that’s the top of Women’s MMA. That to me, that’s the most legit place. Janet has, for Invicta, enough women to make that a legit place too, so either a belt for Invicta or Strikeforce. Hopefully Invicta is successful and stays around.
For Sponsorship inquires you can email Vanessa Mariscal at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on twitter @vanessaMfitness and visit vmxgym.com