Over the weekend I attended the U.S. Grappling Championships in Delaware to support my wife and her teammates from her school, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United. She ended up competing in the Advanced Absolute Division despite only being a white belt. One of her competitors was none other than BodogFIGHT Women’s Champion Tara LaRosa.
I chronicled the experience of my wife competing against LaRosa in an article titled “Grappling with the Champ.” After LaRosa was finished competing, she was gracious enough to grant me an interview in which she discussed her current contract status, whether she’s in fact had negotiations with EliteXC, and her feelings on Gina Carano.
Sam Caplan: You’ve competed at Abu Dhabi and you obviously compete in professional MMA as the BodogFIGHT women’s champion, but you’re here today at the U.S. Grappling Championships in Delaware. It’s not a small tournament, but not as big as some of the others out there. What brought you out to compete today?
Tara LaRosa: I had nothing to do today and I got off work at 4 o’clock in the morning and I figured, “Alright, let’s come on down and do it,” because one of our guys (from the Fight Factory) is fighting on a card right near here (Andrew “The Crow” Staiger on a Combat in the Cage amateur MMA event).
Sam Caplan: Ed Hsu’s show?
Tara LaRosa: Yes. So I thought I’d come on down here and hit up the tournament and that it would be a good time.
Sam Caplan: Are you training full-time at the Fight Factory now?
Tara LaRosa: Yep, I am a full-time member of the Philadelphia Fight Factory and I’m on the fight team.
Sam Caplan: What’s your status with BodogFIGHT right now?
Tara LaRosa: I’m in negotiations for a new contract with Bodog and I’m also in negotiations with some other organizations as well. So we’re trying to work something out where everybody is happy.
Sam Caplan: Can you talk about some of the other organizations that have approached you about a contract?
Tara LaRosa: EliteXC has approached me with a contract and we’re trying to iron out some of the wrinkles and see if we can work together. I’ve been approached by Fatal Femmes Fighting, which, at this time we’re not going forward with negotiations.
I was also supposed to fight on the Platinum Fighting Productions card in the Philippines and what happened with that was I was technically still under contract to Bodog until December 24. Even if my fight had passed they still have me for a few months so I needed to get a permission slip, if you will, to fight on the other show.
Well, I had to go through a lot of red tape and different people in the company to get that and I didn’t get it in time so they had to replace me on the card. At first I was mad about it but they replaced me with Amanda Buckner, who I think definitely deserved the spot and hasn’t fought in awhile. So I was happy with the replacement, and thus had no problems with that.
Sam Caplan: With EliteXC approaching you, at any point did they mention a possible match in the future with Gina Carano?
Tara LaRosa: We’ve discussed it (but) they don’t seem to be optimistic on me fighting her right now. I’m really not sure what they want to do with me since their weight classes are kind of skewered and I’m not going to fight at 140 and I’m not going to fight for three minute rounds. So I really don’t know what we can do but we’re trying to work things out.
They’re trying to build their women’s division so I may meet up with some of the people that I’ve seen before and they may bring in some new people as well.
Sam Caplan: If they were going to offer you a match with Gina Carano would you move up to 140 just for that match?
Tara LaRosa: I’m not sure if I’d move up to 140 or not. It’s of my personal opinion that 140 is not a weight division. 140 is a special division set up for one particular girl who can’t make weight and everybody else that has fought in EliteXC, outside of fights with Gina Carano, (such as) Shayna Baszler, they fought at 135, which is a true weight class. So I’ll fight at 135 if I’m fighting for EliteXC.
Sam Caplan: She’s (Gina Carano) been promoted as the face of women’s MMA but a lot of pundits consider you the number one pound-for-pound fighter in all of women’s MMA. Why not move up for a chance to fight her just to possibly change people’s opinions of her as the top female in MMA?
Tara LaRosa: I know I’m supposed to respond a certain way professionally and politically, but how can she be number one or even the face of (women’s MMA) when she’s been in the sport for less than two years? And she’s only got five fights against girls that are not top tier women in the world. No offense to her opponents; they are all great and they are making their way up through the ranks but they’re still not top caliber yet — not to say that they won’t be in the future.
I think EliteXC may be realizing their mistake as having promoted Gina as such (as the face of women’s MMA) because now that she’s sort of drifting off into other professions such as TV and movies and other things outside of the sport, she doesn’t seem to be taking MMA as a full-time job or as seriously as the rest of us have, as a career.
I’m disappointed that she hasn’t taken it more seriously as to be our representative.
Sam Caplan: You briefly touched on 140 not being an official weight class for women and she’s had trouble making 140, which was setup especially for her. Do you feel like maybe EliteXC is at fault for asking her to cut all the way to 140 or do you feel it’s on her to get down to that weight?
Tara LaRosa: It’s on her to get down to that weight. If she wants to be a professional fighter then she needs to treat this as a professional sport. The rest of us have all cut weight. Everybody from Randy Couture to Tito Ortiz to everyone down into the amateur divisions. Everybody cuts weight. Especially as a professional, it’s your professional obligation to make your contractual weight (the) same as everyone else, she’s nobody special.
Sam Caplan: I’m a layman when it comes to cutting weight. Is there something you see from your perspective that she’s not doing that she’s supposed to be doing in order to meet her contracted weight?
Tara LaRosa: I mean, I don’t know her personally. I don’t know her personal life. I don’t know what she does inside or outside of the gym. I’ve heard rumors that she doesn’t even train between fights so just by her physical appearance, she doesn’t seem to have the physical physique of someone that is in the gym doing cardio and watching their nutrition daily and stringently, especially for someone that should be fighting at the lower weight.
I myself at one point had hit 170. I used to walk around at 148 and fight at 135. I made weight every single time. I’ve never missed weight. And now I’m fighting at 125. I’d rather tap to strikes then miss weight. It’s embarrassing. I find it to be an embarrassment. The rest of us put it out there and the rest of us treat it as a professional endeavor. I hope perhaps that she’ll do the same in the future. Maybe she’s learned from her mistakes? She did say she was going to work with a nutritionist and something to that extent, which I really hope, especially since she’s our representative, I guess. I’d like for her to be more conscious of these such things.