With an LFA main event on UFC Fight Pass being the stage, there could be more than just the strawweight title on the line.
The United States’ Vanessa Demopoulos (5-2) will put her LFA strawweight title up for grabs for the first time when she takes on Canada’s Lupita Godinez (4-0) at LFA 94 on Friday night in Park City, KS.
Demopoulos, 32, said although she’s currently the strawweight champion, successfully defending the title for the first time will truly cement her status as the champion.
“That’s solidification right there, and that’s everything,” said Demopoulos in an interview with MMA Empire.
“There’s levels to this game, and to know that you’re a solidified and undisputed champion, there’s nothing like that.”
A veteran of the BTC Fight Promotions, Combate Americas, and SCL cages, Godinez, 27, will be making her LFA debut Friday night.
Godinez said being offered the opportunity to fight for LFA and to fight for the title is a reward for all the hard work she’s been doing her entire career.
“Fighting for LFA is exciting, and I’m really happy and thankful for the opportunity because it’s reflecting all the hard work I’ve been doing,” said Godinez in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It’s nice to see all this hard work is paying off, and it’s nice to show it to the people that have been with me from the very beginning.”
Demopoulos is big stage-bred
Demopoulos is no stranger to competing on the biggest stages, having fought the majority of her professional career under the LFA banner, in addition to her appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series this past summer.
Demopoulos said she’s become accustomed to having all eyes on her, both inside and outside the cage, and said that experience will work to her advantage come Friday night.
“I am an entertainer, in that sense. I’ve always been on big stages, whether it be MMA, jiu-jitsu, or dancing as a stripper. I’ve never not been on a big stage,” said Demopoulos.
“But this is not her (Godinez) world. This is my f**king world, this is my territory. I’m the champion of the LFA, and she’s walking into very unchartered waters for herself.”
Despite not earning a UFC contract in her Contender Series appearance this past summer, dropping a unanimous decision to Cory McKenna, Demopoulos said her opportunity of reaching the sport’s highest level is far from over.
She said fighting for LFA provides her with the best possible proving ground the regional scene has to offer, and said a couple wins inside the LFA cage will have her firmly back on the radar.
“The LFA is a huge feeder for the UFC. Most of the fighters, that’s where they end up, UFC or Bellator, depending on what your goals are,” said Demopoulos.
“The UFC totally knows who I am; I’m on their radar, and I just have to get my ass back in that win column and prove why I belong there.”
Demopoulos flashed her impressive jiu-jitsu skills when she won her strawweight title at LFA 85, submitting Sam Hughes in the fourth round via an inverted triangle choke.
And although she’s well-known for her dangers on the mat, Demopoulos said she’s confident in her skills in every aspect of the fight.
“I really do feel confident on my feet. I’ve been a striker for over 10 years. I started off in muay thai, and that’s something a lot of people don’t know about me, which is why I’m a f**king warrior,” said Demopoulos.
“Every fight, I come out of there with stitches and broken bones, so you really can’t make me uncomfortable in the cage. I’m ready to die in there and I’m ready to go to f**king war.”
Godinez not lacking in the ground game
Godinez has proven to be no slouch on the ground herself, holding multiple wins by submission and only having been submitted once, dating back to her amateur career.
While she’s aware of the threat Demopoulos poses on the ground, Godinez said she’s confident she can be the superior fighter in that department.
“I’m a 10th Planet girl, and everything she does off her back I always deal with at the gym,” said Godinez.
“We have tons of guys who love to play that game, so I feel comfortable if the fight goes to the ground. I know what I’m doing, and it’s not new to me.”
Much like Demopoulos, Godinez said she’s aware of LFA’s reputation for having their fighters graduate and move onto the UFC.
Godinez said she knows a win Friday night could go a long way in helping her achieve her goal of fighting in the UFC, but she’s remaining cautiously optimistic.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for me to showcase all my skills, and to get in the UFC,” said Godinez.
“But at the same time, I’m not expecting it because this sport is up and down and I don’t want to think ahead yet. I’ll win and see what happens.”
Despite having only four finishes between them, Godinez and Demopoulos have no shortage of exciting fights to their name.
Given the styles they both bring to the cage, Godinez said she’s expecting fireworks to go off Friday night.
“I’m expecting her to come hard and to fight hard. I think it’s going to be a really exciting fight.”
“I just want to thank everyone that’s been with me since day one.” INSTAGRAM