While Vanessa Porto isn't quite a household name, she's hoping to change that.
The talented Brazilian flyweight has fought a who's who of great female fighters in her eight year career including the likes of Cyborg Santos and current UFC bantamweights Germaine de Randamie and Amanda Nunes.
But none of those opponents gave her the same level of satisfaction as the legendary Tara LaRosa, one of the most highly regarded female fighters in MMA history. Porto squared off against LaRosa at Invicta FC 3 and beat her soundly, scoring a dominant unanimous decision victory by keeping the talented grappler on the feet.
The win over LaRosa earned Porto a shot at the inaugural Invicta flyweight title and she'll be vying for it tonight (April 5, 2013) against Barb Honchak in the co-main event of Invicta FC 5 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Porto spoke to MMAmania.com about the victory over LaRosa, finally fighting at her more competitive weight of 125 and what it would mean to be a champion in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What was it like to arrive in America and see your face on the big billboard along the road in Kansas City?
Vanessa Porto: It was a big deal. I was really excited to see it. It's part of my job part of my dream to be on a billboard and I was really gratified to be up there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In your last fight you fought Tara LaRosa and actually went backstage and paid respect to her afterwards. Can you talk about that decision and what it was like to compete against her?
Vanessa Porto: When you win or lose a fight, you need to show respect towards your opponent. I had to show respect because she's a veteran and she was the number one in the world at 125 pounds for so long. Just to be in the cage with her was amazing. It was a great opportunity and I was so happy that I got the chance.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After spending your career at 135 pounds and higher, how does it feel physically to finally be fighting at 125?
Vanessa Porto: At 125, it's a lot easier for me. When I fought at 135 before for Invicta, all the girls at bantamweight were so much bigger than me. I don't have to put so much effort into making sure I'm heavy. I try to maintain my weight between 135 and 139. I feel faster at 125 and my body is in tune with my mind at that weight. It was a really good idea that I came down to that weight class. I feel amazing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're taking on Barb Honchak for the title. Where do you think she's most dangerous?
Vanessa Porto: I'm ready for everything she brings. I know she's well-rounded but so am I. She's very physically strong and I trained hard to face her and I will give it all I got.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Barb has a pretty solid wrestling background. With your Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, do you think you have a better ground game than her?
Vanessa Porto: Of course I do. (laughs) I'm very high level on the ground and I feel good about it if the fight goes there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It's been your dream to be a champion, so what would it mean for you to win the inaugural Invicta flyweight title?
Vanessa Porto: It would be amazing but I know that after winning the belt it will only get harder. I know everyone will be out for me if I win. I'm confident and satisfied with what I've accomplished thus far with Invicta and I'm very grateful for the opportunity they've given me.