Invicta FC’s flyweight Karina Rodriguez (8-3) faces current champion Vanessa Porto (21-8) on Friday night, but one of her biggest obstacles came long before entering the cage.
“My family believed that women shouldn’t participate in combat sports. What was expected of me was to finish school, get married and have kids, continuing the family tradition,” Rodriguez said. “They were surprised that I decided to dedicate my life to MMA.”
At first, Rodriguez’s family found it odd that she wanted to pursue a fighting career. Little by little, they accepted it and supported her, and excitement grew within in the family, Rodriguez added.
MMA wasn’t popular in Mexico, while Rodriguez was growing up. The residue of combat movies sparked an interest nearly a decade before she was introduced to kickboxing.
“One day I watched a Jennifer Lopez movie [Enough] where she was doing Muay Thai with other women,” Rodriguez said. “I thought it was pretty cool and I told myself I would like to do that, especially seeing other women train, grabbed my attention even more.”
Rodriguez started kickboxing at age 19, training three years under the Red Dragon School in Puebla. She got introduced to jiu-jitsu five years later, and made her MMA debut at 26 years old.
The Mexican flyweight grew up in Cholula, a city located in Puebla, Mexico. Cholula being one of the smallest cities in the state of Puebla, where most families knew each other.
Every time she visited her hometown locals would tell her “oh, you’re fighting in the U.S, congratulations, you are our pride.” Rodriguez saw it as a matter of saying: someone from Cholula is representing us internationally, more so as she will fight for a belt.
“This fight camp has been a long one, about four months. Initially the fight was supposed to happen in Oct. 4, then they changed it,” Rodriguez said. “Physically, I’m more prepared than any of my fights in the past.”
Rodriguez vs Porto flyweight title fight will headline as the main event at Invicta FC 38 on Friday night, the card will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. ET.