Fast-rising Invicta bantamweight Taneisha Tennant is just hours away from the most important fight of her mixed martial arts (MMA) career, but don’t expect “Triple Threat” to be rattled by any pre-fight nerves.
Not that her 135-pound title fight against Lisa Verzosa will be a walk in the park, but Tennant has already beaten cancer, survived Hurricane Sandy, and watched two of her co-workers die from COVID-19.
Her five-round showdown at Invicta 44, taking place this Friday night (Aug. 27) on FITE from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, is practically a vacation.
“I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” Tennant revealed. “I spent the next year having chemotherapy and radiation therapy, where they basically poison the cancer cells to death — it’s so hard on you, mentally and physically. You’re sick, you’ve got no energy, you lose your hair. I basically spent a year laid out playing video games.”
In a cruel twist of fate, Tennant was actually in nursing school studying Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the time of her diagnosis. And after a difficult and painful recovery, the light at the end of her tunnel — as Metallica so eloquently put it — was just a freight train coming her way.
“Right after that, Hurricane Sandy hit the New York area,” Tennant continued. “The flooding was crazy. Everything got wiped out. My house was flooded to the upper level. I lost all my photos, all my videos, like the video of me shaving my head as I started chemotherapy, that was on a cellphone. Everything just floated out the door, just so many possessions. That was a tough period in my life.”
Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New York area and also claimed the home of former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Tennant, a full-time nurse charged with the health and safety of her local retirement community, is currently 4-0 under the Invicta banner, which includes a pair of pro exhibition bouts for the promotion’s “Phoenix Series” back in March 2020.
A three-fight, single-night tournament she won by turning away Taylor Guardado.
“I think every win takes my career to another stage,” Tennant said. “I just want to be the best, I want to reign supreme. Fighting for me is like when a born musician discovers music for the first time. They hear it and it just speaks to them. That’s what happened with me: as soon as I did that first Muay Thai class I knew I would do this for the rest of my life. It just spoke to me.”
Verzosa, 25, will do some speaking of her own when the cage door closes on Friday night. The once-beaten “Battle Angel” is coming off a hard-fought decision win over the rough-and-tumble Raquel Canuto as part of the Invicta 42 event last September.
“This is the biggest fight of my career and the best opponent of my career,” Tennant said. “She’s got that stand-and-bang style. I like pressure fighters — they come forward non-stop and that means they leave a lot of openings. It’s going to be fireworks, hopefully from both of us, but definitely from me.”
Invicta 44 will be available to stream live for $19.99 on FITE.