In the early 1980s, Cyndi Lauper’s super smash hit “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” took the nation’s airwaves by storm. To be fair, it was actually written and recorded a few years earlier by Robert Hazard, but Lauper made it into a worldwide sensation.
Vanessa “Lil Monster” Demopoulos was born about four years after the song made it to the top of the charts, so she never heard it on classic radio stations. However, as she grew into a young woman, she was very much living the song’s message. She became an accomplished exotic dancer, authored a book about the industry called the Stripper Bible (Entertainer Edition), became a professional jiu-jitsu player, and is now an MMA champion. If she’s not having fun, then who is?
“My life happens so fucking fast,” Demopoulos told Combat Press. “I have so many goals and aspirations and things that I do. I have so many other avenues and things that I am exploring. I’m on a TV show. I’m finishing up my second book, which is already done, and I need to get that edited. And, I want to be in the UFC, period, point blank.”
At 32 years old, Demopoulos indeed has a lot going on. Just this year alone, she has competed three times thus far. Her fight in January ended in a decision win, and she followed that up by becoming the Legacy Fighting Alliance women’s strawweight champion with an inverted triangle choke of Sam Hughes in July. That led to a shot at a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in August, but she lost a decision to Cory McKenna.
“I learn a lot from my wins, as well as my losses,” Demopoulos said. “I revisited a bunch of that which I already knew, which is that points matter in MMA. I got lost in the sauce of trying to finish the fight. She played to win. I played to end it. I played the wrong game.”
Some fighters get down and out after a loss and want to take time off, but Demopoulos does not really do that. She keeps a positive attitude and bounces back quickly.
“I took like a week off,” said Demopoulos. “In that time, I was still in the gym. I actually love the gym. I love training. I love working too, and I’m not able to work. Not working, it’s unbelievable how much time I have on my hands. I love training, and I love being in the gym, so it was almost hard for me to not go right back into the gym as soon as I got done fighting.”
Demopoulos was immediately being challenged by up-and-comer Lupita “Loopy” Godinez. The native of Mexico, and now Canadian citizen, was an accomplished judo player growing up. Godinez currently sits at 4-0 as a pro MMA fighter. Demopoulos was a little surprised at Godinez’s request for a title shot in her LFA debut.
“She wanted it as soon as I stepped out of the Contender cage, and I was like, ‘Whoa, girl, slow it down!’” Demopoulos explained. “She used to follow me, and she reached out to me before my title fight wishing me luck and telling me how I inspire her and all that kind of stuff. So, as soon as I stepped out of the cage, she was gunning. After a little while, I was ready to fight and was back in the gym again. So, I called up LFA and told them I was ready.”
On Friday night, at LFA 94, Godinez gets her wish in the headlining bout against Demopoulos. It will be Demopoulos’ first title defense since she earned the strap just a few months ago.
“It makes sense,” Demopoulos said. “She’s undefeated, so fuck it.”
Godinez trains out of Titan MMA in the Vancouver, B.C., area, and she also trains with two of her sisters who are collegiate wrestlers. As an amateur, she went 4-4-1 before turning pro in 2018. She actually had one win and one split draw over the aforementioned Hughes at the amateur level. Her last fight took place almost a year ago when she went the distance with Lindsay Garbatt at BTC 8.
“There are a lot of other options of people I could have fought, but I’m trying to look impressive with it,” said Demopoulos. “She’s undefeated, and that looks good. I thought the other options maybe weren’t at the caliber and didn’t look that impressive. She’s tough, and that’s what you look for in a match-up.”
With her eyes on another shot at the UFC, it’s important for Demopoulos to keep all of her focus on the LFA 94 main event. However, after the fight, she really wants to get her second book out. It’s a follow-up to her first publication, and it’s called Stripper Bible (Public Edition).
“It’s a part two,” Demopoulos explained. “The first one was an instructional, but this one is more of an insight. So, it’s what people think the industry is versus what it really is, and where those lines cross. Once I get into fight mode, this is why it takes me so long to get shit done. Once I have a fight, nothing else fucking matters. I’ve been fighting so much recently that — the book is done — I just don’t care about it when I’m getting ready to fight.”
In addition to the book, there is a TV show that she recently finished filming. It has a very interesting concept.
“It’s kind of like strippers who end up doing something better with their lives,” Demopoulos said. “It’s no secret that I’m an exotic entertainer. I’m very public about being a stripper, and I have been for 13 years now. I’ve written two books on the industry. The whole show is about girls who did something else with their money, aside from buying a bunch of Gucci purses. So, for me, that’s fighting.
“One of the girls is a pilot. I thought that was freakin’ cool. I was like, ‘You learned how to fly planes with your money? That’s dope.’ We’ve had girls who go to school for all different types of things, like being a doctor or lawyer. That’s cool, you know, but being a pilot is an awesome investment. That was super dope.”
With the clubs still closed in California, no desire to travel across the country to dance, and her fourth MMA fight of the year just one night away, Demopoulos is simply focused on the win. In a fight that airs live on UFC Fight Pass, Demopoulos will look to inspire others as she seeks another victory in the LFA cage.
“I’m very exciting as a fighter, and I think that who I am as a person brings a lot of hope,” Demopoulos said. “I try to give a lot of awareness to different people who are struggling and going through their own shortcomings. I like showing them an example that it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, you can become something.”