By TXMMA Staff | Photos by Mike Calimbas (MMA and BJJ Photographer)
Maria Lopez vs. Monica Flores to headline STFC 27 this Friday in McAllen
AUSTIN, TX, October 28, 2013 – The next professional MMA event in South Texas is fast approaching with STFC 27: Carnage taking place this Friday night at the McAllen Convention Center. Slated for seven fights, STFC 27 features some exciting fighting including Houstonian David Armas taking on RGV native Saul Elizondo, Miguel Vega and more but the event also features something new for the promotion with Women’s MMA taking center stage for the very first time in the main event with Austin’s Maria Lopez taking on Houston’s Monica Flores.
If recent history for Texas Women’s MMA bouts holds true in this one, fans can expect yet another exciting contest at STFC 27 in this one.
We recently caught up to one half of the main event (Maria Lopez) to get her thoughts on the bout and more.
STFC 27 Interview – Maria Lopez (Austin Eastside Elite)
Thanks for taking the interview Maria. I see you have a tough fight coming up at “STFC 27: Carnage” this Friday. Tell us a little bit about it.
Yes. I will be fighting Monica Flores on Nov. 1st for STFC. It will take place in McAllen, TX. We are the main event for the evening so that is very exciting!
Before we get into the fight tell us a little bit about your background. Are you originally from Texas?
Yes I am originally from Texas and am an army brat! I was born on Ft. Hood, the army base. I grew up in Copperas Cove which is a very small town. I had the privilege to travel to and live in Europe for six years then another couple years in Korea while I was growing up and I’ve been a proud Austin resident for the last 13 years. I felt like a city girl trapped in a small town….I needed more and also wanted more for my son so that’s why we moved here. We absolutely love Austin and I don’t see us ever moving out of this city!
What’s your favorite thing about Austin?
My favorite thing about Austin is how accepting everyone is of each other. You can walk into most places here and see such a wide variety of people and styles….but everyone is treated the same. I love that! We are also the live music capital of the world! Who doesn’t love music?! There’s so much to like about this place. I could go on and on. It’s such a beautiful city!
Who are you training with up there? What’s your schedule like?
I train out of Eastside Austin Elite under my trainer, Derrick Garza, Toby Imada and my strength & conditioning coach, Esia Rivera. I also train at The Fit Pit under Art Cardenas. My schedule is pretty crazy right now. I start my day pretty early, around 6am. I work about 8-10 hours a day….then train for about 4-5 hours a day between three different gyms. Somehow between all of that I still have to be both mom & dad to my son. It’s a very tough schedule…but I do it.
How did you originally get involved with the sport?
I originally got into this sport because my son was interested in training. We found a gym close by and started together. It was a boxing/kickboxing based gym and they also offered Jiu-Jitsu classes. We tried it out…. he immediately knew that he wanted to box…not kick and not wrestle, just box. I, on the other hand, loved all the kicking and takedowns, etc. We continued training together for a while…. He focused on his boxing and I focused on MMA.
I think I’ve been motivated to do this for the same reason I see in a lot of other people. I was bullied my whole life from grade school all the way into my adult years. I never understood why. People can be so cruel. When I noticed the same thing happening to my son I knew I had to do something to help the situation. I didn’t want him to be afraid to go to school every day. I wanted him to learn how to box for two reasons: to build his confidence and to be able to defend himself. I guess I wanted the same thing for me. We never went into this sport with the intention to compete but as time went by, the passion grew. And now four years later we both fight. Mom and son team… I think that’s pretty awesome.
What do you think your primary strength is as a fighter so far?
I like to think I have a tremendous amount of heart. I’m always working to get better, The rest will take care of itself.
Your debut fight against Paulina Granados at Legacy, what did you take from it?
That fight was very overwhelming! It was the first time I had ever been in front of a crowd that big! Also, it was the first time having a camera in my face. Regardless of the outcome, I did learn a lot from that experience. I learned how important it is to be mentally trained and prepared as well as physically. Even though I lost…it was one of the most amazing days of my life.
What about your fight with Monica Flores this Friday – how are you approaching it how much do you know about her?
All I can do is train hard! I show up every day and train my ass off. I don’t know much about her. I know she is from Houston, TX and a very skilled boxer but I’m focused on me. I just need to be ready for anything.
Maria what do you do when you’re not fighting and being a mom?
I am currently a sales manager for two hotels in Austin. I am very close to getting promoted to be become a DOS which is really exciting! Besides the increase in salary….it is just a great feeling to reach this level in the business that I’m in. As for fighting…I honestly don’t know how long I will continue to fight in the cage. I am one of the older females in this sport but I guess my body will let me know when it’s quittin’ time. My best friend, River Fuller, and I are in the works on some exciting things! When we decide to stop fighting we still want to continue to stay involved in the sport so stay tuned for more on that later!
Any last message to Texas MMA fans for now before STFC 27?
To the fans…..Women’s MMA is moving forward in the right direction….slowly but surely! I truly appreciate the opportunity that I have been given to be a part of this sport and encourage others to get out there and fulfill their dreams if you share the same passion. Thank you for all the support! And thank you, TXMMA, for the interview!