Cheyanne Vlismas ended the toughest year of her life with the best performance of her UFC career and her second consecutive fight night bonus.
But where that momentum will take her this year is a bit of a mystery.
Vlismas earned a unanimous decision win over Mallory Martin at UFC Vegas 44 in a bout that earned the event’s “Fight of the Night” award. The performance left fans excited to see what the future holds for “The Warrior Princess.” Unfortunately, due to circumstances in her personal life behind the scenes, she has no idea when she’ll be able to make her first 2022 appearance.
“Unfortunately, I would love to fight again [and] soon, but because of reasons beyond belief, I cannot fight, and I cannot make any more money until I finalize some things in my life, and I don’t know when that will be,” Vlismas told MMA Fighting. “I’m trying to make that soon, but I don’t have an answer. I’m hoping by summer. I’m praying by summer. That’s what I’m gonna shoot for.
“As far as 2022, you’ll see me, but I have no answers. And honestly, it makes me want to cry how I have no answers for anything.”
The win over Martin was fortunate considering what Vlismas had to do at the end of 2021. Professionally, she was able to pick up a big win and some much-needed income. But she was also forced to make a tough decision to leave Las Vegas and move to an undisclosed location outside of the U.S.
“No one knows where I’m at, and I’m actually keeping it that way,” Vlismas said. “A lot of things happened before my fight — and even after my fight — and I decided what’s best is to just escape. I’ve been gone now for two weeks and I love it. I’m overseas and just living my life.”
Despite being away from her team at Xtreme Couture, Vlismas told MMA Fighting that she has been able to train on a regular basis at her current location.
While this past year was met with a career’s worth of adversity, Vlismas was able to find some positivity through it all. Vlismas said she is no longer with fellow UFC fighter J.P. Buys, and is trying to work through the chaos the last several months has sent her, both in and out of the octagon.
In the end, there’s one piece of negativity that stood out above the rest, and it had to do with her octagon debut loss to Monsterrat Ruiz at UFC Vegas 22 in March 2021.
“The only thing I truly hated was the first time you saw me in 2021, for my debut,” Vlismas said. “It was a great camp, but I got injured right before the fight, 10 days out. [I was] very badly injured, needed surgery, took the fight still, got an opponent change, got embarrassed in my debut, I couldn’t do anything. Then got the surgery, got back into fight camp, had a good fight, then getting a divorce ... it’s been a roller-coaster, to say the least.
“But in a way, 2021 was a blessing. For me, and [for] as much raw emotion as you guys saw, you saw a lot of growth in me not just as a fighter, but as a woman. I enjoyed 2021, even though it was a roller-coaster of emotions.”
There was a lot of hype and excitement around Vlismas following her victory over Hilarie Rose on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2020. The 26-year-old wowed White with both her skill and personality, which ultimately led to her UFC signing.
Following to loss to Ruiz, Vlismas bounced back with a vicious finish of Gloria de Paula at UFC Vegas 33 in July, a victory that netted Vlismas her first performance bonus — money she admits “saved” her financially.
As impressive as that finish was, Vlismas feels her recent unanimous decision win stands out more, and it probably doesn’t get enough attention. Attention doesn’t pay the bills, but another bonus can, no matter how surprising it may have been to receive.
“I didn’t even like the finish of Gloria de Paula because I wanted people to see me for 15 minutes. And when I fought Mallory, I went in there like, ‘I am gonna beat her up for 15 minutes and I’m gonna show everyone who I am,’” Vlismas explained. “I felt like I showed everyone who I was and I felt like I showed everyone Cheyanne Vlismas.
“I don’t feel like that fight gets enough credit, if I’m being honest. Even after the fight, Mallory put up her hands as if she won and I just looked at her like, ‘Put your hands down, girl. You did not beat me,’ and I was not going home a loser that night. I like her, so I didn’t say it, but in my head, I was like, ‘Put them down.’
“I was [surprised we got ‘Fight of the Night’],” Vlismas continued. “I was texting my friend at the time about the fight, that it was a potential $50,000.
“Next thing you know I’m sitting down eating dinner and I get a message from some fan saying, ‘Congrats, you won ‘Fight of the Night,’’ and I just started screaming. I was just crying because there was no way I got ‘Fight of the Night.’ There’s no way I just got another $50,000 bonus. It was honestly a blessing, because the fight before, that bonus saved me, and this fight, this bonus saved me again for a lot of other reasons. I’m very grateful because I don’t know how I got the bonus. I don’t know.”
Right now, Vlismas is simply trying to find some sort of clarity in regards to the balance between her personal and professional life. While she’s unsure when she’ll be able to return to the octagon, she plans to continue training and finding as much positivity as she can, so that when she does get the green light to compete, she’ll be ready.
“Right now, I just take it day by day,” says Vlismas. “I have no answers for anything. If it was [up to] me, I would love to fight, but I am told I cannot. I was actually not even supposed to fight in my last fight. I was asked not to by some high-up people. They told me, ‘Please do not take this fight.’
“Even my family didn’t want me to fight, one, for being sick, and two, for other reasons I can’t speak about. No one wanted me to fight at all, so the fact I got to finish off 2021 with a fight, and winning, and proving to people just that little [more] like I did it, more for myself, it was a good feeling.”