Demopoulos (7-4) had a big night this past Saturday at UFC 270. She scored her first victory in the Octagon, earned a $50,000 performance bonus check, and became a social media sensation when she had UFC announcer Joe Rogan pick her up in his arms during their post-fight interview.
However, one of the biggest stories following “Lil Monster’s” win was the news that she had just recently ended her extensive career as an exotic dancer. It is a profession she has had throughout her MMA career as she rose up the ranks from LFA strawweight champion to a member of the UFC roster.
Vanessa Demopoulos says pole dancing and cage-fighting require similar skills
It should come as no surprise then that various media outlets have become curious about the 33-year-old and her pole dancing past. In a Thursday interview with TMZ Sports, Demopoulos spoke about it and explained why, in her mind, her previous vocation and her current one as a full-time fighter are similar. In that, they both require a certain type of body awareness to be a success.
“I just walked away from being an exotic entertainer. I’m so good at pole dancing, and I feel like pole dancing and fighting go hand and hand,” Demopoulos said. “Like, I’m three stories up in the air hanging by a limb, mainly in my underwear. If I sweat too much, I’m falling to my death. It’s like fighting, except you’re not gonna die. The ref’s gonna stop it before that happens.
“You have to have a lot of awareness in your space. A lot of positional awareness, a lot of fluidity. Transitioning quickly without thinking about where you’re going,” she continued. “But understanding and knowing yourself well enough to know where your going, and have confidence in those positions. So they really do go hand and hand.”
Is pole dancing an excellent MMA strength builder?
Demopoulos is a talented grappler and it has been her bread and butter throughout her fighting career. She showed off those talents this past weekend when she made Silvana Gómez Juárez tap from an armbar in the first round of their preliminary bout. For such a small woman, she is quite strong, and she actually credits her work as a pole dancer for developing the uncanny strength that she says makes her the most powerful woman in the 115-pound division.
“I’m not one of the strongest strawweights in the division for no reason. In fact, I’m the strongest strawweight in the division, specifically from so much pole dancing,” she said. “And that’s what the [UFC Performance Institute] says, and that’s what the numbers say.”
With her victory at UFC 270, the Ohio native moved her record to 1-1 inside the Octagon.