Going into Invicta FC 28 Virna Jandiroba had about as much hype as any fighter on the women’s scene. She was a BJJ black belt with 10 submission victories to her name and unbeaten at 12-0-0.
After the event, she would add one more victory and Invicta champion to her resume. She took time to sit down with WMMARankings.com to discuss the UFC, fighting for Invicta and her future after winning the Invicta title.
There are many reasons a fighter turns to mixed martial arts, for Jandiroba, it was all about chasing new challenges.
“I was fascinated a lot by Martial Arts, I’ve practiced Kung Fu and Judo when I was a kid (although I wasn’t that good doing Judo). I’ve received an invitation for training BJJ and in my first class the coach says ‘You are very good in that!’. I’ve competed during ten years in BJJ and then the challenges were lacking and I got unmotivated, MMA came to motivate me again and bring me new challenges.”
Jandiroba was more of a casual fan before competing in MMA. While she is more of a fan these days the BJJ black belt is always studying.
Before “I like the sport but not to watch closely. Like in BJJ, I liked but never as a viewer. Nowadays I watch it closely, I study, I get to know the girls who’s fighting. I like Demian Maia, Lyoto [Machida] and Rose Namajunas— they all have the essence of the Martial Arts that I’ve learned.”
Jandiroba opened her career with five straight submission victories before seeing the judges for the first time, battling Aline Sattelmayer for three rounds in order to get her hand raised. Jandiroba wasn’t disappointed in not finishing the fight.
“Aline is a very tough girl and props to hers that I couldn’t finish the fight at that time. That didn’t disappoint me, every fight has a history and there a many factors which affects the way you express into the cage.”
She continued her finishing ways and people began to take notice. She was soon dubbed the “Demian Maia of the women’s scene.” An obvious tribute to BJJ great and two division title challenger, Demian Maia.
“The comparison with Demian came because my style of fighting, always looking to finish the fight on the ground. I believe that my ground game is one of the best in WMMA as Demian’s is among the men.”
In her second appearance for the Fight 2 Night promotion the Brazilian standout would get the biggest opportunity of her career, a fight with UFC veteran and fellow ground specialist, Ericka Almeida. The contest ended in a split decision win for Jandiroba.
“Ericka has a ground background as well, and I’m always cautious about that because I know how dangerous BJJ is. So, I’m always playing safe, but I think a had a dominant performance over her, despite not finishing the fight.”
Like many of her fans she expected to get a call from the UFC after defeating Almeida
“Yes, I did! I had already a win over Lisa Ellis and thought the getting a win over Ericka would be enough to get that shot, but unfortunately the path has been a little longer for us for whatever reason. But that only makes me eager to show how much I deserve to be among the best ones.”
While she expected to get a call from the UFC another top promotion showed interest in her abilities.
“The deal with Invicta came right after my fight with Ericka on Fight2night (which was the promotion that push me to the world). That was a dream come true signing with Invicta, that was a big thing to me and my people.”
A few months later “Cacara” was scheduled to meet Amy Montenegro at Invicta FC 26. The fight would be her first on U.S. soil. As she tells it, everything did not go as planned.
“On my debut I was very happy and confident. I had some problems with my visa and I come to the weigh ins only 40 minutes before it starts, I had to cut weight at the airport, getting to USA was a miracle, so I was very glad I made it and knew that nothin could stopped me.”
Many of the champions of Invicta FC have vacated their titles in order to compete for the UFC. Before Jandiroba, Carla Esparza, Angela Hill and Livia Renata Souza all left the promotion to compete at strawweight for the UFC. With such an impressive victory in her debut fans immediately started calling for “Cacara to be placed in a title match in her next outing. The promotion quickly answered the call of the fans. Jandiroba expected a quick shot at Invicta gold as well, not necessarily three months after her promotional debut.
“Yes, I did! Maybe not at the second fight, but we were expecting something like that. I’m a very experienced fighter and I’ve been tested a lot, I’m sure Invicta took that into consideration.”
She was originally scheduled to battle Janaisa Morandin for the vacant strawweight belt, but a late change saw her facing Japanese star Mizuki Inoue for the title. While the change was unexpected she prepared accordingly.
“We didn’t change much, just added some takedown defenses. I’ve trained with very talented strikers and grapplers in my last camp, so I was ready!!”
The talented grappler out-worked her Japanese foe for the better part of five rounds. She was awarded a controversial split decision victory for her efforts.
“Absolutely! I was shocked as most of the people. We all knew that was a big mistake and it was not fair, I think I won in a dominant way.”
With the bad decision behind her Jandiroba now makes claim to being the top strawweight outside of the UFC. On top of being the top prospect not signed to a UFC contract she has added Invicta champion to her resume. So, will she stay and defend her crown or jump ship to the UFC?
“Being an Invicta Champ is something extremely huge. Something the represent a lot to me and my people. I’m representing hundreds of people!!” commented Jandiroba, “If UFC calls me, I’m ready! If not, we gonna keep working and I will defend my belt as much as it’s necessary. Invicta is such an amazing event. I wish I could have two more fights before the end of this year!” stated Jandiroba “Whoever Invicta decides deserves a Title Shot I’ll be there to defend, no matter who.”
Jandiroba realizes that there are many fans out there supporting her, even more after the big title win at Invicta FC 28. She wanted to take time to thank all of you.
“I wanna say thank you for your love and support, it means a lot to me! Thank you for being by my side in such a special moment of my life.” She continued “Thanks to all who believed in my potential, my team, my sponsors and especially Invicta for giving me the opportunity to show my work to the world. You make the difference to this sport and thank you for treating us with so much respect.”