Vanessa Demopoulos has endured a lot of changes in her life lately but she’s anxious to use that upheaval as motivation to take the next step in her career.
Following three straight wins in the UFC after moving to the strawweight division, the 34-year-old Ohio native recently changed training camps but not necessarily because it’s something she wanted to do initially. According to Demopoulos, her move from Phoenix to Denver was one of necessity but thankfully she found sanctuary in her new home at Factory X while training under highly respected head coach Marc Montoya.
“So politics kind of pushed me out of Phoenix, unfortunate for everybody,” Demopoulos revealed when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I loved my coaches out there. I loved my team. I was very happy. We’re on a three fight win streak right now but when you’ve got to move, you’ve got to move.
“I had the option to search around the country a little bit and when I found my way to Denver, I wanted to check things out for a few weeks. I really fell in love with the atmosphere. Marc Montoya’s a great coach. The guys there are like a huge family and I was like yeah, I think this is a place I can come to.”
Demopoulos admits that the sudden change of scenery was essentially out of her control but she holds no ill will towards her former coaches in Arizona. More than anything, she’s just happy that she was able to settle into her new surroundings in Colorado while preparing for arguably the biggest test of her career at UFC Vegas 73.
“It wasn’t the chosen circumstance for myself and politics do suck sometimes,” Demopoulos said. “They are real and it’s part of business. It’s part of the fight game and unfortunately, I was a victim to that but I have made the best of the situation. I am very happy where I’m at. I still love my old coaches. There was no bad blood. But I feel like everything has turned out all amazing.
“My manager Jason House actually suggested that I come check this place out. When I came by, I was here for two weeks and I could have gone to other gyms as well but honestly, I just fell in love as soon as I got here. This environment is perfect for me.”
As she gets ready to clash with one-time UFC title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz on Saturday, Demopoulos was thankful that Montoya guided her through the training camp while proving that he’s the kind of coach who will walk over glass for his fighters.
It’s that kind of sacrifice that has earned Montoya such fierce loyalty from his fighters.
“The story was very public — Marc Montoya did have cancer and he was having surgery the following week of someone’s fight and he still went to the fight, did his job and then he went and got the surgery he needed for his cancer!” Demopoulos said. “Are you kidding me right now? This man is an absolute animal.
“He’s still in there training with us. He’s the one leading the pack. He leads from the front. He would never tell us to do something that he himself doesn’t know how to experience. It’s amazing. It’s very comforting to have someone who cares just as much if not more about what you’re doing than you do. It’s very rare. It’s very hard to find. I’m really grateful to be here.”
Thanks to Montoya and his team at Factory X, Demopoulos feels more than ready for whatever Kowalkiewicz might throw at her.
Taking on a veteran with championship level experience is exactly the kind of fight that Demopolous wanted as she seeks to graduate from the ranks of prospect to contender in the UFC.
“I think I’m very underrated by a lot of people in my own right,” Demopoulos said. “I am ready to rise to the challenges. Even prior to being in the UFC, all the girls that I fought were top tier for the level I was at. Most of the girls that I fought prior to the UFC are in the UFC now. I was prepared walking in here. I had most of my challenges prior to arriving, which is why I’ve been able to have the success that I’ve had.
“I’m just really blessed and grateful and I do have a lot of experience. I have been competing around the world in jiu-jitsu and now I get to do it at the highest level of MMA. I’m looking forward to this.”
With her infamous post-fight celebrations, an infectious personality and fight skills to match, Demopoulos is anxious to prove she’s not only ready to hang with the best fighters at 115 pounds but she’s prepared to take her place as one of the new faces of her division.
“I am a star,” Demopoulos said. “This is something I’ve been dreaming of my whole entire life. I am an entertainer. I was built to shine. Even in my previous field, I love being on stage. I love being in action. This is my high when I step into the cage, when I step into the arena. I couldn’t be more excited to get to perform for everybody.
“This is an honor for me. I am very excited and I am so happy that the crowd loves me as much as I love them.”