MMA attracts some of the most unique individuals that the world has to offer — oftentimes unsuspectedly. It’s no longer a rare sight to see athletes from other sports give the ultimate form of combat a go. However, Elizabeth Rodriguez transitioned from a sport that was already unique in its own right.
Only one fight into her professional career and the 29-year old finds herself poised for great things after finding Mexico’s most notable MMA talent producers, Lobo Gym.
“I was in professional cycling,” Rodriguez told MyMMANews. “When I retired, I got into university and I studied and took one year without doing any exercise. I started with a Muay Thai academy, I liked it but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Then my cousin invited me to his academy which was MMA based. I started to like it. My cousin saw that I have a lot of qualities, the courage, the talent to start in MMA. So he took me to Lobo Gym with Alexa [Grasso] and Irene [Aldana].
“When I started in Lobo Gym, I said, ‘This is for me.'”
Despite Rodriguez quickly realizing that a career in fighting was ahead of her, as in the case with many new ventures, it wasn’t smooth sailing right out the gate.
Looking back at her experience in cycling, the 125-pound flyweight prospect knows how important being mentally strong is. If you aren’t a reasonable combination of relaxed while focused, it’s tough to give 100 percent.
All preparation, mental or physical, ultimately leads to the same desired result.
“I didn’t like punching and getting punched at first,” Rodriguez recalled. “I cried a lot of times and asked myself, ‘Why am I crying?!’ It just pushed myself wondering why I’m crying. That push pushed me to get better, get more professional, and at the end, it became a challenge for me. To increase my technique and defeat this fear when it comes to punches.
“The most important thing cycling gave me was the discipline. Because it’s a very hard sport. All the discipline of eating good, working hard, don’t go out partying, all that stuff. The most important thing is discipline and also the cardio, the mentality. When you think you can’t, like when I was in a race competition in cycling, that mentality took me to win.”
Putting in all the work necessary to be her best self, Rodriguez debuted in one of Mexico’s premier MMA organizations, Lux Fight League, in November 2019. Taking on a near-10-pound overweight Alejandra Orozco, Rodriguez would come up short on the wrong end of a questionable unanimous decision — the referee even raised Rodriguez’s hand upon the initial score reveal.
Ultimately, all the Lobo Gym product could do was move forward as she aimed to rebound in June — the pandemic just had other plans.
Getting to start in Lux as well as being a part of the team she’s with has Rodriguez set up with all the tools to succeed going forward. Having watched the likes of Alessandro Costa, Diego Lopes, and Hugo Flores, Rodriguez is inspired to follow in their footsteps in what feels like dream come true.
“There’s a lot of fun when you train at Lobo Gym,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes Irene dances, Alexa sings, but there’s times when it has very serious moments. Like the circle of death, we call it. When we have sparring in the circle around us to take the punches and defend ourselves. It’s one of the most serious trainings in Lobo Gym, and other things like strategy planning. But in general, there’s a lot of fun in Lobo Gym’s training.
“I’m taking things step by step. I also dream to get to the UFC, obviously, and represent Mexico as well as Irene and Alexa. But first, this fight, then the Lux belt, and then who knows. The sky is the limit.”
Understanding her youth with only four years of training in MMA, Rodriguez is beyond grateful for her opportunities with Lux and training with those that she’s been surrounded by. On May 7 at Lux 013, she makes her sophomore appearance in the cage against Yessica Ortega.
“In that fight, there were a lot of external factors I couldn’t handle,” Rodriguez said of her debut. “My opponent didn’t make weight, little things with the corner that affected my performance. The technical and physical stuff was done, but not the proper mentality. So that was a very important lesson. Just to control mentally all the external stuff, I couldn’t handle in that fight.
“I’m so excited to be coming back from this pause [in my career]. I’m more focused on my own job, not my opponent. I’m trying to get better technically, mentally, physically. I’m so excited because my training camp was a lot better than the last.”