Wednesday, April 4, 2007

LaRosa coming back to Jersey

By Bill Evans

Tara LaRosa's skyrocketing mixed martial arts career has taken her to Costa Rica and California in the last year. She's excited about two appearances in another locale in the coming months New Jersey.

LaRosa, the Woodstown native and St. James graduate now living in Yakima, Wash., will compete in the Abu Dhabi World Submission Championships May 5-6 in Trenton. On June 23, she is expected to compete in North Jersey at an MMA show at an undetermined location against Kelly Kobald-Gavin, who is 16-0-1.

"I wanted to come back (to Jersey)," said LaRosa (12-1). "I wanted to further my game and represent New Jersey. They'll have a couple local fighters on the card and we'll be tearing up the joint."

The submission championship is a tournament based on strictly grappling. After the tournament is over, two fighters from different weight classes will be selected to determine an ultimate champion.

"This is our Olympics," said LaRosa.

LaRosa has recently maintained her ranking as the top 135-pound female MMA fighter in the world. In December, she competed in a USA vs. Russia match, winning by submission over Julia Berezikova in the second round.

LaRosa just returned from a fight in Costa Rica against Shayna Baszler. Because the show was taped by Bodog for pay-per-view and the results are to be kept secret until the show runs, LaRosa is not allowed to disclose any details.

"(Baszler) is an up-and-comer, one of the top chicks out there," said LaRosa. "The show should be running in May or June on Bodog's third or fourth season."

The fight in Costa Rica was the first of a three-fight contract LaRosa signed with bodog which made her the highest-paid female mixed martial artist in the world. While unable to divulge the exact amount for contractual reasons, the number is in the mid-five figures.

LaRosa's defeat of Amanda Buckner on the first Bodog season helped elevate her to the top spot in the world as well as doing wonders for her exposure.

"It's huge," said LaRosa. "People come up to me all the time, (saying) Where do I know you from?' It's the coolest thing. People are always hitting me up on myspace. I always try to write back."

LaRosa was on the cover of the March issue of Northwest Fight Scene, a popular magazine on the West Coast. She feels Bodog has built on the first season and is continuing to draw interest among the top fighters and fans.

"There's a lot of training and bio clips on seasons three and four, but less of the fluff and dorky stuff from season one," said LaRosa. "It's a lot more to the point.

"Bodog's becoming the top organization out there. They're showcasing the best women's fighters and even for men, they're surpassing the UFC."


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