Invicta FC’s last event took place in November 2020. It wasn’t until shortly after that the world as we know it would be forced to change and adapt to the times. At this point, a promotional staple of the 125-pound flyweight class, Karina Rodriguez, hadn’t fought since the prior November.
Friday, May 21 marks the return of Invicta as well as Rodriguez. But it won’t just be any old occasion – the event signifies a new era for the all-women organization as they debut on AXS TV. For one of Mexico’s finest, she gets the opportunity to be the last fighter walking to the cage that night when battling for the vacant flyweight title.
“It’s pretty exciting getting to be a part of this new era of Invicta,” Rodriguez told MyMMANews. “It’s amazing that they put me in the main event to be a part of this historical event for them. I think Invicta is growing a lot and it’s the biggest platform for female fighters, and I know that this is going to be something pretty big for them and for us because more people are going to be able to see our fights and to know us so I’m pretty excited. I know this is going to be a great one.
“I was waiting for my comeback to the cage and this was the best way it could be. I wasn’t expecting something so big.”
Although Rodriguez didn’t foresee a title shot as her next time out, it didn’t necessarily surprise her. Especially after being scheduled to challenge the champion in her last outing, it only felt like it was a matter of time to get back in this position.
In the meantime since that defeat to Vanessa Porto, it’s just been consistently training and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Rodriguez is able to look back now with positive takeaways despite the result not going in her favor.
“I really enjoyed that fight,” she said. “I know that Vanessa Porto is a very experienced fighter, a very strong fighter, a technical fighter, so I had a game opponent in front of me, a big challenge. I was very excited to fight against her and after the fight, I was very happy with how I could solve all the problems she put in front of me. I also wish I could have fought for five rounds. Maybe the result would be different from what it was, we will never know but I would love to fight five rounds with her.
“I learned a lot about myself, how I can deal with these big challenges, and I also know that I’m ready for everything and that I’m at the level of the top fighters, I’m the highest level in Invicta and that’s why I have the opportunity to fight for the belt. That fight was just a reminder of how good I am.”
Rodriguez will be getting a more relaxed environment with no rowdy fans live in attendance. Therefore the crisp striker believes the atmosphere will allow for more of a chance to feed off the energy from all the new viewers at home and put additional focus on her task at hand, Brazil’s Daiana Torquato.
As far as familiarity goes, Rodriguez saw her upcoming opponent’s crack at the one-night Phoenix Series tournament just one month prior to her Porto bout. Torquato would get past veteran competitor Milana Dudieva before falling short to an old rival of Rodriguez’s in DeAnna Bennett.
Now that the two are set to meet one another, the Puebla native thinks Torquato possesses just the style she likes to see across from her in combat.
“I like those aggressive fighters because I think the fight becomes more interesting and exciting for the people, for the fans,” Rodriguez said. “That really feeds me, makes me a better fighter every round, I start going up and going up. Because I start feeling the emotion, I also like the fights that have a lot of striking exchanges. When that happens, I start enjoying the fight because I don’t like the kind of fighter that just hugs you and keeps you there and does nothing – my worst kind of fight. I hate those types of fights, I really don’t like that and I think the fans don’t like that either. So this is going to be a great fight because she’s going to bring everything she has and I’m going to bring everything I have. I’m going to do everything in my power to have my hand raised on that night.”
In her 12 fight career to this point, Lobo Gym’s Rodriguez has obtained victories on eight occasions. Her time spent in the sport has been enough to establish her as a top name and representative from her country.
Funny enough, Rodriguez joined her longtime training home after colliding with now-teammate and Invicta alum, Alexa Grasso. Following the 2013 encounter and what was just Rodriguez’s third pro contest, she joined the crew at one of Mexico’s best facilities.
Just like plenty of the other great names at Lobo Gym, the journey has, in turn, led to a position as a role model.
“I think that many people that are starting this sport are watching us and want to follow our steps,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes they write us, or we meet them at the gym or something, and they ask us questions about how we started, how we train, how we eat, how we take care of our health, how we don’t get nervous in a fight, all these questions. And it’s very cool to be able to share with them our experience and to motivate them if they really want to follow this career in how to make it in a better way.
“I also want to be a role model as a real martial artist that respects the fighters, respects the fight, and sees this like an honorable sport. Not just like a show. I know it’s part of our job to make a show for the fans but also to teach them that this is a sport and we respect them, and they have to respect them as we do.”
Karina Rodriguez is set to kick off her 2021 campaign in a big way. Adding the title of a champion to her resume was far from what she ever anticipated when initially getting involved with the sport. But here we are one fight after the next.
That simple mentality carried things this far. So why change it now?
“I was never expecting to get to this point,” Rodriguez shared. “I remember that I just wanted to live the experience of being a fighter, I wanted to see how it feels. What it feels like to be in that cage and give punches, receive some punches. Then fight, maybe. I was always saying, ‘Just one more time, just one more time.’ Then they offered me another fight, ‘Ahh, just one more time…’ My mom and my family would say, ‘Are you going to continue with this?’ Just one more time… And that one more time – it never ends. I’m always saying it’s just this one, with this [next] one it’s just this one more time, mom. But I know it’s not my last time and she knows that but I say that for them to be relaxed because obviously, she doesn’t want me to fight anymore because she’s worried about me.
“I see these fights as a game, I just want experience. But I realize that I do enjoy being there, I enjoy the challenge and I always want more, and more, and more to prove that I’m better with better fighters.”
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.