After two years where things seemingly didn’t go her way as often as they should have, flyweight DeAnna Bennett was able to kick off her 2018 on a positive note with a split-decision victory over Karina Rodriguez at Invicta FC 28 on March 24.
“I was really excited to get back into the Invicta cage, and it was amazing having the hometown all behind me,” Bennett told MMAWeekly.com. “I felt great. Obviously I’m my own worst critic and there’s a lot I need to work on. I’ve already talked to my coaches about what we need to do to get to the next one. Overall I’m happy.”
Having lost multiple split decisions along with a majority draw in the recent past, Bennett admits it was a tense few moments after the fight before the judges’ decision was announced.
“There was definitely some panic,” said Bennett. “I knew I won the fight, so I was wondering what was going on. I turned to my coaches and asked why it was taking so long. It’s never fine when they take that long.
“Thankfully it was a split-decision (in my favor), but there’s always that concern in my head. I worked way too hard, I put everything I had out there, and I wanted to win that one more than anything. Once it came out in my favor, it made me a lot happier.”
Bennett’s win over Rodriguez comes after a particularly difficult time in her career that saw her win only a single bout in six fights during 2016 and 2017.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Bennett said. “I know it’s super cliché to say that, but it has. I had the three-fight losing streak, then the experience on The Ultimate Fighter, and it was hard. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a point where I thought maybe I was done, that I was over the hill and just hadn’t accepted it yet.
“I love this too much to give up on it. That’s one of the things being on TUF helped me realize it. That’s why I had to pick up and move to New Jersey. I needed to make changes if I wanted to keep going and keep fighting. I had to do that to get to another level and to become the fighter I want to be.”
Now that she’s back on track, Bennett is looking to keep her momentum rolling towards a title shot in 2018.
“I didn’t have any injuries from the fight, I felt great, I’m in better shape than I had been in a long time, so I told (Invicta) that I wanted to get back in there as soon as possible,” said Bennett. “I know their next card is probably booked, so I want to fight on the one after that.
“I want to fight somebody who can get me to the Invicta belt. I am in Invicta and I want to get to the top, so I want to get that belt. So if I can get back in there against an opponent that can get me that, I’ll be happy.”