Monica Lovato Fights for Inaugural King of the Cage Female 125-Pound Title
Monica Lovato (5-2) hopes to bring home yet another King of the Cage belt to FIT NHB, when she fights for the inaugural KOTC 125-pound belt at KOTC: Nightmare, which takes place on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, just north of Santa Fe, NM.
Lovato is a finisher, not only in MMA, with 3 of her 5 wins by KO/TKO (2 in the first round) and the other 2 by submission, but also as a boxer: her record 12-1 at 115-lbs, with 4 of those wins by KO, 3 in the first round.
US Combat Sports sat down with Lovato after a quick training session at FIT NHB, to talk about her upcoming fight and get to know this cross-trained fighter.
A career athlete, she participated in several high school sports – basketball, softball and track (shot-put and discus) – at Espanola Valley High School, where, like many other troubled teenagers, she got into her fair share of fights; "I'm from Espanola," shrugged Lovato.
After graduating, Lovato had a scholarship to play softball for Highlands University, but when she suffered the tragic accidental death of her boyfriend, she took a break from everything. She began training at Irene Garcia's "A Woman's Place", an all-women's boxing facility.
She trained there for a few years, essentially her entire amateur career of only 12-14 fights, during which time she competed at Women's Nationals at Camp Lejeune, and took Bronze Medal. For a short time, she moved to Ohio and trained, but soon decided she needed to be back in home in New Mexico, to pursue her boxing career.
At that time, she met Pat Holmes, trainer and promoter, in Santa Fe, NM, and trained with him. He was the one who got her professional debut in February 2004, which was against former Woman's Place teammate, LeAnne Villareal. "It was really hard; she was my teammate for years. She was really good, and had a lot more experience than me," but Lovato won that fight.
She lost her second, against Julie Rubalcava, by unanimous decision after 4 rounds, but faced her again three years later and won the NABF Super Flyweight Belt. She has gone on to rack up a 10-fight win streak, earned her IBA Bantamweight belt, and ranks among the top Super Flyweights in the world in boxing.
Lovato's first love was boxing, but after several disappointments: opponents pulling out of fights, or various other cancellations, she was understandably frustrated; it was difficult enough to get fights as a female boxer (one of the reason she turned pro after so few amateur matches).
After her last boxing match, she met Coach Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn of FITNHB, by recommendation of a "friend-of-a-friend." She began to train at FIT NHB, but when she suffered a few consecutive cancellations, Coach Vaughn asked if she had ever considered MMA. Lovato thought about it, and when Vaughn offered her first cage match, she didn't take long to consider, and decided to take the match.
She won that fight, in January 2009, against Elsie Henri, and has gone on since then to put together a record of 5-2. Lovato is not only a finisher, but she has never been finished. Her only losses in either sport have come by decision (2), and one by submission (a second round RNC).
About a year and a half ago, Lovato suffered an injury that made her think that it was perhaps time to move on to the next stage of life. She decided to go to college to earn her degree in Project Management. However, when personal stresses began to weigh on her, she decided to get back into the gym, "It really gets rid of any kind of stress."
Once back in the gym, she felt the pull again of fighting, and when the opportunity arose, to fight for the 125-pound KOTC belt, Lovato readily agreed.
Lovato trains at FIT NHB, for all aspects of fighting, in boxing and MMA. She also works one-on-one with Fidel Maldonado , Sr. on a regular basis, to keep her boxing skills tight; and her training is augmented by additional strength & conditioning with 2011 Figure America Champion, personal trainer and friend, Jessica Rinaldi.
As an MMA fighter, Lovato was encouraged to add weight training to her regimen, something generally discouraged as a boxer. As a result, although Lovato was 115 as a boxer, she is a solid 125 for cagefighting.
"If I ever box again, it will be at 118-122," said Lovato. "But I'm excited for this fight. This will be a big weekend for me." She will be fighting in memory of her grandfather, who died years ago on May 10, and her uncle, who passed away one year ago on May 9; she dedicates this fight to her uncle.
After this fight, Lovato hopes to get a boxing match, and potentially compete in a local Fitness Model competition. She would like to thank her sponsors: FIT NHB, TD's (Central Boxing in Phoenix), Tussle, Santa Fe Protective Services, and Sadie's.