Vanessa Porto: Invicta second to none, Cyborg in bad position
This is number twenty-one in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature Invicta FC WMMA fighter, Vanessa Porto. Porto will be fighting in the co-main event of Invicta FC 5, on April 5th. She’ll be taking on Barb Honchak for the inaugural flyweight championship. The Brazilian, Porto, is a veteran of the sport, and she is eager to become champion. Please enjoy our conversation below.
Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?
Vanessa Porto: Jiu-Jitsu was my first experience. I was invited to come try BJJ, and I tried a class and fell in love with it. I also met my husband there. It was his gym. Seven months after I started BJJ, I had my first MMA fight.
JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, and how prepared do you feel that you were at the time?
VP: I remember being very excited and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Skill-wise, I was not prepared since I had only been training for seven months, but my husband had me in good shape and mentally ready to go.
JB: You have an impressive 15-5 record, and your losses have been to some of the toughest women in the sport. What has been your most satisfying performance thus far?
VP: They were some of the toughest, and always bigger then me, but I’ll fight anybody. Cyborg and Amanda Nunes outweighed me by a lot. I would say my most satisfying moments were a loss and a win. I’m very proud of my loss to Cyborg. I was outweighed by 18lbs and still almost finished her, and I showed my warrior’s spirit by going all three rounds with her. My best win was my last win, against Tara LaRosa. She is a WMMA legend and it was an honor to fight her and beat her.
JB: You fought at both Invicta FC 2 and 3. What has impressed you about the promotion?
VP: Everything they do. They are bringing the best girls from around the world to fight. They take care of all the girls and are just extremely professional. They are second to none.
JB: You will be fighting Barb Honchak, for the flyweight championship, in the co-main event, at Invicta FC 5, on April 5th! What do you think of your opponent and what will it mean to you to win this championship?
VP: She is fighting for the belt because she is one of the best in the world. She is very well-rounded and on the rise. But I will no doubt be the hardest opponent of her career. A world championship will be a dream-come-true and will justify all the hard work and sacrifices I have made in the past years.
JB: Invicta FC 5 recently signed a former opponent of yours, Cristiane Santos. You fight at 125lbs now, and she does not want to fight lower than 145. Would you ever desire a rematch with Santos, and what do you think of her decision not to fight Ronda Rousey at a weight of 135?
VP: I think, where we are in our careers, it will be impossible. I am at my natural weight of 125lbs and she is at hers at 145. We fought back in the day, when weight and divisions were not important. Now things are different, and I will never go to 145 again and she will never go down to 125. Ha-ha! I think her decision to go to Invicta was smart. She is coming back from the lowest point of her career. She was suspended and stripped of her belt, and Ronda has taken her shine. I think it’s smart to come back and get her name back in the spotlight and get a belt around her waist again. She will have more leverage by next year. Right now she is in a bad position.
JB: Your fighting career has allowed you to travel quite a bit. What do you think of the United States and how do you think it compares to your native Brazil? Are female fighters treated any differently in Brazil than they are in the U.S.?
VP: In America, everything is better run and professional. There is more money here. I think the times are changing for the women, and we are starting to be treated fairly in America and Brazil. When I started, it was like the promoter was doing you a favor by letting you fight rather than the promoter being lucky that you are fighting for him.
JB: Who are the individuals that have supported you in your fighting career, and how has the team at MMAUniversity helped your development?
VP: Really it’s been my husband, Pedro. He is a third-degree black belt in BJJ and a black belt in Muay Thai. He has taught me everything. MMAU has brought me to another level. They are true professionals and know how to get the most out of every one of their fighters. Chris Vender is a great manager and they have great coaches and a lot of good people there. If you live in northern New Jersey, you need to check them out.
JB: You are a young woman with a long future ahead of you. What are some plans and goals that you have outside of fighting?
VP: I just want to create my position in WMMA history, and my whole focus is on winning that belt. I’m sure once I retire I will be focused on my next goal, but right now I only see that Invicta belt.
JB: Last question, Vanessa, and thanks for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
VP: I love it. I can’t think of anything else that I would rather be doing. MMA is great for my mind and my body.