UFC star who went viral for Joe Rogan moment explains why she quit stripping
UFC star Vanessa Demopoulos has shed light on her background in exotic dancing and detailed her reasons for quitting the trade prior to her first victory with the elite MMA promotion.
Featuring on the same card as heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and Cyril Gane at UFC 270 in Anaheim last weekend, 'Lil Monster' pulled off an impressive first-round submission win against Silvana Gomez Juarez to improve her record to 7-4.
Raising more eyebrows than the triumph itself, however, was Demopoulos forcing herself into Joe Rogan's arms and then admissions post-fight to quitting her job in exotic dancing so that she can focus on her MMA career full-time.
In an interview with MMA Fighting this week, Demopoulos further explained the motives for leaving the nighttime profession behind.
"I said [I worked as an exotic dancer for] 13 years, but it was longer than that because I started dancing at 18 years old," Demopoulos stated.
"I’m 33 now, I’ve written two books on the industry, I grew up in the industry, and walking away from it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. It’s just so scary, man, because that was the way I was making money all of these years to fight full-time.
"I was working at night, training all day, but I was only able to work two nights a week. I was like, 'F**k! Do I want to make a few dollars? Or do I want to recover and sleep, and make sure I’m taking care of my body and mental space so I can perform better in the cage?'
"I literally wrote this thing on my [whiteboard]: 'Bust your ass for thousands vs. shaking it for dollars.’ That was my big thing this whole camp. I looked at that every single morning," she claimed.
"I had conversations with myself when I was making this decision – I went through all of these different scenarios," Demopoulos continued.
"'What if you quit and you still win? What if you don’t quit and you still win?' I mean, I had been dancing all of these years, and I won quite a few fights, and the reason that I’m so freaking strong is because I’m always so exhausted, and I just f**king do it anyways, man. There’s no quit in me, because I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.
"But to be able to rest and recover, that was life-changing for this camp."
Demopoulos stressed that she still loves pole dancing and "doing all the acrobatics and stuff in the air," but doesn't have to be a stripper to do it or a "dancer in a club".
"I was dancing with my sister while we were in the car driving up the street. I got out of the car at a red light and started dancing in the street. I’m wild, man, so I don’t need to be in that atmosphere to do that. Trust me, I’m gonna get my artistic compulsions out via dance in many other ways, but it’s not going to be in the club anymore," she vowed.
In addition to $12,000 to show which was doubled thanks to her victory, Demopoulos also earned a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for the way she dismantled Gomez Juarez after losing in her UFC debut to JJ Aldrich last August.
And as she revealed, the money couldn't have come at a better time due to a list of factors in her personal life.
"I didn’t have a lot of money," Demopoulos admitted. "It’s not like I was good [financially] – I wasn’t good, dude. I wasn’t good, and I made the decision and walked away. If it wasn’t for sponsors, there’s no freaking way I’d be able to do any of that. It was a scary time.”
"I went through so much for this camp between dancing, my family had gotten sick, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, my little brother went to prison," Demopoulos opened up.
"And I’m like, ‘Bro, can anything else happen?’. I planned to do all of this and make these things happen, then I got that call and it was just like, man, you can do anything you want to accomplish in this life.
"You’ve got to want it, you’ve got to dig for it, and you’ve got to get after it. F**k, it was so cool," she concluded.