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Tara LaRosa: The Last of the Old School Fight Chicks

Before Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg had their epic bout on Showtime, before Marloes Coenen snagged a Strikeforce belt and Zoila Frausto took top tournament honors in Bellator, there was an ever-growing field of competitors making a name for themselves in organizations that would ultimately garner only a fraction of the attention of their contemporaries.  Remember Hook n’ Shoot?  Unless you were following Midwest MMA in the pre-TUF era, you probably don’t.  Remember BodogFIGHT?  Unless you were keen on promotional disasters, it’s doubtful you do.  But back in the day, these were the organizations hosting female MMA bouts.  And of those fierce fighting femmes, only Tara LaRosa remains relevant.

Last week, LaRosa entered into the realm of Chael Sonnen-esqe trash-talking and fired volley after volley at Miesha Tate, Strikeforce’s top 135-pound contender.  If nothing else, the accusations – of steroid use, of “being a bitch” – reinforce the notion that the female version of the sport can be just as entertaining in the ring as outside of it.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Who the heck is this mouthy broad?”  Well, first of all, this “broad” could most likely kill you.  And second, she’s Tara frickin’ LaRosa.  Some facts:

– LaRosa’s only lost twice in twenty-two bouts.  The first was a TKO in May, 2003, against Jennifer Howe, who was considered the best female fighter at the time.  The second loss came to Roxanne Modafferi on last year’s Moosin pay-per-view.  The bout, which saw LaRosa lose a close split decision, is considered by many to be the highlight of the event.

– LaRosa has trained in various places, but for the past few years has made the Fight Factory in Philadelphia her home.  Fight Factory also boasts top-five lightweight Eddie Alvarez as one of its fighters.

– LaRosa was BodogFIGHT’s only female champion.  To earn her belt, she had to defeat Amanda Buckner, Julia Berezikova, Shayna Baszler and the then-unbeaten Kelly Kobold.  Her bout with Kobold went into the fourth round, and ended with LaRosa nailing an armbar from the guard.

– In her first fight with Modafferi, which took place at the Mixed Fighting Championship in March, 2006, the two battled furiously, and with ten seconds left in the first round LaRosa went for an armbar from the mount.  As the promotion had inexplicably chosen to use a whistle to mark the final ten seconds of the round, the ladies thought that sound meant the round had ended.  LaRosa released the arm and they began to get up.  The referee’s frantic “Keep going!  Keep going!” told them otherwise, though, so they apologized, quickly laid back down, Modafferi gave her arm to LaRosa and they resumed their struggle for another few seconds.  Everyone – including the fighters – laughed at the impromptu comedy of it.

– LaRosa has fought at various weights, but has stuck to 125 pounds in recent years.  Last November she defeated Japanese fighter Takayo Hashi to become the DaMMAge Fight League’s 125-pound champ.

– In preparation for her match against Carina Damm at Shark Fights earlier this month, LaRosa tweeted about her efforts to regulate her menstrual cycle, and how the tea she was drinking to accomplish it gave her gas.  There is, apparently, no such thing as too much information in LaRosa’s world.

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