Montana De La Rosa knew that one day her husband Mark would eventually get the call to compete in the UFC.
With an undefeated record on the regional fight scene, Mark De La Rosa has put together an impressive resume worth noticing and that’s why when the call came to try out for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” he jumped at the opportunity.
The concept for season 27 of the long running reality show is that all of the competitors must have undefeated records so De La Rosa certainly fit the bill but the tryout ultimately led to realizing his actual dream of competing inside the UFC Octagon without ever stepping foot in “The Ultimate Fighter” gym.
“We actually were out trying out for “The Ultimate Fighter” for him for season 27 and he was basically on but he really didn’t want to fight in the 145-pound division,” Montana De La Rosa said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “He told his manager, if you get me a contract with the UFC at 125 or 135 [pounds] that would be great and he ended up doing it.
“It just worked out perfect.”
The way it worked out was De La Rosa got the call up to compete at UFC 219 on Saturday night when former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Tim Elliott needed an opponent on short notice. De La Rosa happily accepted and now he’ll join the UFC roster in his debut fight in the same month where his wife Montana had her first appearance inside the Octagon as well as she picked up a victory on “The Ultimate Fighter” season 26 finale in early Dec.
It all came together like a perfect storm and now the De La Rosas — Montana and Mark — will become the first married couple as active competitors on the current UFC roster (Ronda Rousey and UFC heavyweight Travis Browne also got married just recently but by all accounts Rousey isn’t planning on competing again).
“It’s obviously a very big accomplishment,” Montana said about her husband joining the UFC roster alongside her. “It takes a lot of hard work to get where we are and we haven’t reached our goals yet. We always saw this in our future but we still have a lot more goals to reach and hopefully we’ll both be getting those belts.”
Of course, Montana and Mark aren’t the first married couple to go to work with each other everyday but their situation is obviously quite unique considering the profession they’ve both taken up.
Montana admits that the dynamic was tough at first, especially with Mark serving as one of her head coaches when they were training together in Texas as their relationship began to flourish. It didn’t take long for Montana to figure out that she had to separate home life from work life because if she was going to become a better fighter, she had to accept instruction and criticism from Mark as a coach rather than as her husband.
“We’ve definitely gone through some rough patches. It’s a little bit harder for me because he’s also a coach on my side and I’m not really a coach on his side. So I have to hear all of his little critiques and then we have to go home and be a happy wife. When we’re training he’ll say ‘you need to do this better’ and ‘you need to do that better’,” Montana said.
“We’ve definitely gone through all of that for the past three years so it’s not anything new. It’s actually a lot better and we kind of keep that part of it at the gym and then we go home. We know how to balance it really well.”
It's official @mark.delarosa.35 just signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC. #thatsmyhubby
While that was tough to endure in the beginning, Montana says the benefits of being married to a fighter also comes with a lot of benefits.
During her most recent training camp to get ready for the fight against Christina Marks at “The Ultimate Fighter” Finale, Montana says her husband understood every facet of what she was going through from weight cutting to the nerves that always seem to play a part before a big fight.
Fighters often talk about how beneficial it can be to have a teammate going through the same rigors of a training camp or weight cut where they are both competing at the same event, but Montana and Mark will always have that advantage because they are by each other’s sides each and everyday.
“We’re always understanding of each other. It helps when we have fight camps at different times because can help each other out making meals or cutting weight. I think it’s a good thing,” Montana said.
“We help each other through every step of the way. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I don’t think anybody else would be able to deal with me or deal with him the way we help each other so I think it’s great.”
Much like Mark was in her corner a few weeks ago, Montana will take the same role for her husband on Saturday night at UFC 219 as he makes his debut. In the past, Montana says it was a little tougher watching his fights when she was just a spectator but she’s part of his corner team as well and that has helped put her nerves at ease.
Heading to weigh ins at the T-Mobile arena.
“I think it’s a little bit less nerve racking because I see how composed he is in the back and I can see where his head’s at,” Montana said. “He’s always very confident in the back and going out to the cage so it really helps being in his corner.”
Obviously, Montana is confident that her husband will make the most out of his first UFC fight on Saturday night but just like her performance earlier in the month, this is just the start for the fighting family of De La Rosas.
“That’s going to feel amazing,” Montana said about watching Mark get his first UFC win. “It was only a couple of weeks ago hearing my name announced and what it’s like stepping out on that big stage. I’m definitely excited for him.”