Don't be fooled by Stephanie Frausto's 3-4 professional record.
The 22 year old didn't exactly make the best decisions when she started her career in mixed martial arts. Simple things like never training her ground game or not taking any amateur fights didn't seem like a big deal to the then-19-year-old.
But "Macaquinha" got her act together when she followed her older sister Zoila Gurgel to Ohio and began taking her grappling very seriously for a full year without taking another fight. She showed tremendous progress against Ashley Cummins and she made her complete breakthrough earlier this year against Diana Rael after dropping down to her more competitive 105 pounds.
With a Bellator champion for a sister, she's got one of the best role models in the business.
She spoke to MMAmania.com about following her sister's footsteps, evolving her game and her fascination with monkeys in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I heard your sister Zoila was the more aggressive of the two of you when you were growing up and it wasn't the biggest surprise when he started fighting in MMA. Why was it that you decided to get into fighting?
Stephanie Frausto: When I was in middle school, I wasn't very competitive or aggressive because I was overweight so I didn't have a lot of energy to do much. Even when I was growing up I was too young to participate in family events like volleyball or taekwando and I had to sit on the sidelines. By the time I was old enough to do stuff with my sister, she'd moved on to fighting so I was like, "Let's do that then!" and I ended up falling in love with it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You never had any amateur fights. Do you have any regrets about just jumping straight into a professional career?
Stephanie Frausto: Oh yeah. I would say my first five fights were pretty much my amateur career. I was still really green. It wasn't until I fought Ashley Cummins, I consider that my first fight, my first pro fight. I guess my record was really affected by me jumping in real soon but I'm using that to my advantage now because it's easier to get fights now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, I remember watching your fight against Lisa Ward in Bellator and that one just seemed like you weren't ready for that caliber of opponent at that point in your career.
Stephanie Frausto: Yeah, I was pretty much fed to the sharks. I was 2-1 and she'd had like 12 more fights than I did. It was really uneven and a lot of my teammates didn't think I should have taken that fight but my coaches at the time told me it was a win-win situations. I sure didn't feel that way after I fought. I felt like I lost and I didn't feel good about it. I shouldn't have taken that fight but it was a learning experience. It helped me a lot in terms of developing my ground game and becoming the fighter I am today.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about the transition you made? You moved from California to Ohio and you took over a year off to really work and develop the rest of your game, coming out of it smelling like a rose.
Stephanie Frausto: Yeah, when I was training in California, all I did was stand-up. When I came to Ohio they really helped me put everything together and I had a lot more ground game. That whole time I took off MMA I was doing grappling tournaments and traveling to Las Vegas, Georgia, Kentucky and all throughout Ohio so it helped me a lot on my ground game. Moving to Ohio helped a lot and my teammates are awesome. They're great training partners.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like all your hard work paid off in your last fight against Diana Rael when you scored the first submission of your career?
Stephanie Frausto: Oh yeah. All that hard work just showed a lot of what I'd been working on throughout my time I'd been training in Ohio. It had only been like a year and I had already got a title fight at 105 and everything was really hard, the training and nutrition was difficult and new. After the fight though, it was all worth it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What's your fascination with monkeys? Your nickname Macaquinha means "monkey" in Portuguese and you've got the monkey stuffed animals that your dog keeps eating. Can you talk about that?
Stephanie Frausto: Well when I was in Fresno, I did plays and I played a bird in Alice in Wonderland but monkeys were like my favorite animals to play so I started doing that around school. I started doing it at one of the gyms I was training at and the jiu-jitsu coach started calling me "Macaquinha" and I was like, "What does that mean?" and he tells me, "Little monkey," and I liked it so I kept it. (laughs)
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With the success that your sister has had making a name for herself in Bellator. Do you find it difficult at all getting out of her shadow at all?
Stephanie Frausto: I love my sister a lot. I don't really believe that being in her shadow is putting me down at all because if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have the coaches I have today. I wouldn't have Mike Ferguson at the Power Station who pushes me to my limits. I wouldn't be at Stadium MMA and I wouldn't have met some of the best people I've ever worked with if it wasn't for her. I don't mind being in her shadow. We're two weight-classes apart. I think we can both be in the spotlight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of weight classes, you're finally fighting at your more natural 105 pounds. How does it feel to finally have a weight class to call home?
Stephanie Frausto: Fighting at 105 is like a breath of fresh air because I never expected to jump down to this weight. That was like 20-30 pounds less than when I first started but once I did, it was worth all the diet and nutrition. It really helps me feel stronger in the fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now that you're fighting for Invicta, do you feel like this is the perfect location to showcase all the major improvements you've been making in your overall game?
Stephanie Frausto: Oh definitely. When I got here today it was nothing like I've ever experienced. I've been to Bellator but it's a lot different. They take care of all the fighters like they should be taken care of. If there's anything you need, they're there. They always ask if you need anything else. You couldn't ask for a better promotion for women to showcase their skills. A lot of the women who fight here have been around forever but people think that they're just coming up and they've been around for a while but they've never been showcased the way Invicta does it. It's great. I love it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There's a huge age gap in this fight for you. Amy Davis, while she's had a lot of kickboxing experience, she's 37 years old and you're 22. Is that going to be a factor heading into this fight?
Stephanie Frausto: Yeah, she's older than me but a lot of the girls I fight are older than me. My last opponent Diana Rael was 28 or something so everyone I'm fighting is gonna be older than me. This will be the oldest I guess (laughs) but I'm not looking at that like it's going to be the reason she does or doesn't perform. Just because she's 37 doesn't mean she can't perform like someone my age. We're both just people who are doing MMA.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What would it mean for you to really put on a solid performance on the big stage against Amy Davis?
Stephanie Frausto: I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to show more of who I am and how I fight and to be able to do that for Invicta, it means the world to me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're picturing a perfect victory in your mind, what do you see?
Stephanie Frausto: Every time I train, I always train to end fights so I'll be trying to end it. I'll just be waiting for the opportunity to present itself and then I'm gonna take it whether it be I guess a knockout or submission, I'll end this fight one way or another.
Stephanie would like to thank her teammates at JG MMA, her mom and sister for the support and her coaches Jorge, Mike Ferguson, John Buckley. You can follow her on Twitter @StephMacaquinha