DeAnna Bennett (9-4, 1 draw) had been a mainstay for Invicta since making a statement in her promotional debut against Michelle Ould back in 2014. After a pair of amateur fights, she started her pro career at 8-0. When brought into the inaugural flyweight season of The Ultimate Fighter, she fought Melinda Fabian in her lone UFC bout to a draw.
Last year, she returned to Invicta (also taking a fight with Vegas-based org Tuff-N-Uff afterwards) and is happier than ever with her fight career. A new setting, a new approach, and back in a familiar fight organization, she believes she may have found the recipe to propel herself even further in the sport.
But for now, her objective is to pump the brakes on surging prospect Miranda Maverick, an athletic young dynamo that’s been putting together a very dangerous MMA game. Bennett took a little time out of her hectic travel week to talk shop and do her best Christian Bale as Batman impression, as well as her different personalities. Yes – they get to make predictions, too.
Victor Rodriguez: You’re coming back to Invicta to face Miranda Maverick. Have you seen any of her previous fights, and if so, what do you think of her style?
DeAnna Bennett: Yeah, I think Ive seen all of her most recent fights just because even when I wasn’t with Invicta I always watched the Invicta shows. They put on great fights and I love to see the sport of women’s MMA growing and I want to see what’s out there, what’s going on. So I’ve watched her fights and she’s a tough competitor, she’s on an upward swing in her fight career and she’s pretty well-rounded, obviously. She has a couple of wins by armbar – she comes for armbars, I guess – and she’s a tough girl. And she’s physical, she’s a good fighter. I love that. I love going against people that are tough fighters because those are the fights that I want. Those are the ones. I like the challenge.
VR: Now, you’ve moved, as you were previously with The Pit Elevated in Utah and currently you’re up in New Jersey with (Nick) Catone and company. What’s that shift been like for you?
DB: I think it’s the most positive thing that’s happened recently in my fight career. I needed to make a change for myself if I wanted to continue fighting and if I wanted to get where I needed to be. There were some things that I was personally lacking as a fighter and I needed to be able to develop that more, and I couldn’t do it where I was at. Making the switch and coming across the country, um… little scary, lemme say that, but… (laughs). It’s been the greatest thing for me. I found my new drive, and you know, it reignited my passion for the sport, basically. I love it. I love every single day, getting up and going to train. The coaches, training partners, everything that I have here are amazing.
VR: Speaking of your training partners, which have been the ones that you’ve most been able to play off of and prepare for your fight with?
DB: Well, there are two females that are my two main sparring partners and everything. I work with Katlyn Chookagian and Sijara Eubanks. Those are the two people that I spar with the most and that push me. I love that, because they’re high-level and top five ranked fighters in the UFC, so I’m getting the best of the best training. You’ve got a high-level striker in Katlyn and a high level Jiu—Jitsu black belt in Sijara. Being able to go in there and have that experience, have that high level to train with is… you can’t compare to that.
VR: Yeah, Sijara doesn’t get enough credit for her grappling background and what she’s accomplished. People sleep on that, but that’s another can of worms.
DB: Yeah! We could go off on that for a long time (laughs).
VR: Hey, fans are fickle, man! So what was the main thing that led you to pick this team in particular?
DB: It’s the coaching staff that was there after The Ultimate Fighter. Eddie (Alvarez) was the coach, obviously, and they just did that blanket “Alright, if you’re ever in the area, come out and train!“ And I was like, I needed to get out of Utah and I had some friends, some people in California that said I could go train with them there. But it wasn’t… I didn’t feel like it was a good fit at 100%. So I came out here and test it out and I loved it. and thankfully, (UFC fighter) Frankie Perez, who cornered me for my second fight on the show, he extended a room in his apartment to me. And so, that helped me make the transition to come across and make it so seamless. The people are —the training partners and everything — I knew this guy for a week on The Ultimate Fighter. I met him on the show and he offered me the spare bedroom in his apartment. Just that kind of that, that perspective and everything. I love that. I love everybody out here, it’s amazing.
VR: He believed in you. It was like kismet.
VR: Back to the focus on this fight, what aspects of Miranda’s game stand out to you?
DB: I think the biggest thing about Miranda is she’s a physically strong fighter and she’s got that great grappling. She’s a good wrestler, she’s good at grappling in general, she’s got the submissions there. That’s what stands out the most, and someone that’s a strong fighter, they punch you in the face it’s gonna hurt a bit more than not. So you have to be wary of that. But she’s just a physical fighter and that should be fun.
VR: You were on The Ultimate Fighter, you were in the UFC. What’s it been like to be embraced again in Invicta after coming off that experience and returning to what had pretty much put you on the map?
DB: I love it. I’m so grateful for Shannon (Knapp) and Angie and all of the people at Invicta, that have been so great to me. The day I got the call that the UFC was not picking up my contract, that same day Shannon sent me a message and said that we’re gonna get back on the horse and we’re gonna be good right there. That was good, because I was in a really low place when that happened, and to be embraced by them was awesome. Little awkward old me, they were willing to take me back. It was so great.
VR: Well, I hate to do this to you. I know you’re in the middle of the weight cut and fight week prep. What’s the thing that you miss the most during fight week that you can’t eat?
DB: Oh, man! Things that I miss the most? See, that’s a very hard question to pose, because being the fat kid that I am I miss all the things. I miss all the food, it’s terrible. I actually work at a restaurant, I’m a bartender and a server and so I’m sitting there and bringing people food, bringing them like, plates of ribs like “What if a few of these fell into my mouth right now?“
VR: Oh, you got that grumble going on?
DB: Exactly, it’s like “Hmmm, I wanna eat that.“ I’m pretty sure my one true love is Mexican food and I will return to it shortly after this fight.
VR: Yeah, usually I get the hunger pangs for fried chicken if I eat too clean for a couple of weeks, it’s like “Oh noooooo…“.
VR: My inner fat kid, he won’t let me live.
DB: Oh no, mine’s really angry. Like, that bitch down inside, you hear the voice of — it’s almost like the Batman voice when Christian Bale would go (deepens to a raspy voice) “I want you to eat that!“ And I’m like (dopey voice) “But I can’t, I gotta make weight“ (as Bale again) “No, I want you to eat it, and I want you to eat that now, you bitch!“
DB: “Oh, why are you so angry?! Like, we got a job to do! You’ll get that food in at the end of the week.“
VR: Finally, how do you envision this fight ending, by submission, TKO?
DB: Well… that’s such a hard question, because all of the mini-personalities in my head have a different idea of how it’s gonna go down and what’s gonna happen. That’s an ongoing thing. My coach says “DeAnna, how many personalities do you have?“ And I’m like, “Seven that I can count, but I’m pretty sure there’s more but only seven that I can count right now.“ There’s Penelope on one hand who’s like “Yeah, it’s gonna be a TKO.“ Then we got Chuck on the other hand and Chuck’s like “Nah, bitch. We’re gonna submit her. We’re gonna get this.“ You got Frank on the other hand going “Well, I dunno. She’s tough, could be a decision. We’ll have to see.“ They can’t make up their mind, so I guess we’ll have to play it out and see what happens on Friday.
DeAnna Bennett faces Miranda Maverick this Friday night, February 15th at Invicta 34: Porto vs Gonzalez. The event starts at 8:00pm, streaming exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.