Returning to the Invicta cage for a third time on July 13th, Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc looks to announce herself as a contender in the 105 pound division with a win over former Invicta Atomweight Champion, Jessica Penne.
With a strong background in boxing, and a hard charging aggressive style, “The Night Queen” has quickly garnered a following for her crowd pleasing fights. Calanoc loves to create poetry in and out of the cage, and will be writing her next chapter on July 13th at Invicta FC 6.
Corey Smith: From an early age you dreamt of being a boxer, and your MMA career evolved from there. How old were you when you first knew you wanted to box? And what attracted you to the sport?
Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc: I was about 11 years old when I knew I wanted to do Boxing. My step-dad at the time and I were watching Oscar de la Hoya fight Chavez for the WBC World championship. At the time I didn’t have any Mexican role models to look up to and I found one in De la Hoya.
NRC: I have always been Athletic since I was 5 years old; I was always doing sports. It runs in my family. My father played American football in college along with basketball. What attracts me to combat sports is that I feeling that it is the highest form of expression.
CS: How early on were you aware of women’s MMA as you were beginning to train in boxing and kickboxing? What led you to the MMA route versus strictly a boxing career?
NRC: Since day one of my training in boxing, I was aware of women’s MMA. Some of my husband’s training partners (Dorothy and Clay) showed me a video of WMMA.
NRC: I guess what led me to MMA vs Boxing was that my husband did his first MMA fight, watching him win his first Pro MMA fight inspired me. I love all the different variables in MMA, standing and trading blows, clinch, wrestling, and BJJ. I have always dabbled in Jui-Jitsu, and I just love it all. MMA is like life; a sea of possibilities.
CS: You speak both English and Spanish fluently. You are also working on learning Portuguese. Do enjoy speaking new languages, or does learning Portuguese help in the world of MMA?
NRC: LOL! who told you I was trying to learn Portuguese? I have tried before in the past to learn Portuguese, but it is too similar and different to Spanish. Spanish was my first language and than I learned English when I moved to America at 5 years old. I plan on learning Tagalog (Philipino.) My husband’s father is from there. Then I plan on learning Italian. I want to learn to speak at least 7 languages before I die! Lol!
CS: You are married to and train under retired fighter and US Marine, Travis Calanoc. How much does it help to have someone that is familiar with the fighting lifestyle? Is it easier or more difficult to train under your spouse?
NRC: I think it is more difficult because you really have to separate yourself from your relationship while you’re training. For example at the gym I call my husband coach and sir. But at home I just call him by his name lol.
NRC: When we are at the gym or during a fight he isn’t my husband, he’s my coach. Part of it is easier because he understands everything I am going through and gives me a lot of advice. He is a great coach. He is constantly continuing his education as far as his field goes. He is a retired MMA fighter so he knows how to incorporate all the things a top level MMA athlete needs.
CS: How much does it help to have someone with the experience of Miesha Tate in your corner during a fight?
NRC: It’s not really during a fight where it makes a huge difference, but as far as my career goes Miesha has taught me ALOT!! I can’t ever thank her enough for helping make me the fighter I am today.
CS: For a good portion of your career you fought at, and had a lot of success at 125lbs. You have since dropped to 105lbs. Do you feel like it was always your most natural weight class? Has the talent level at 105 grown to the point where you always feel you can find competitive fights?
NRC: Yes I had a lot of success at 125lbs, and I also fought quite a bit at 115lbs. I feel best fighting at 105lbs. I feel that with the way Invicta FC has helped grow ALL the WMMA weight classes there are enough competitive fights for everyone.
CS: How were your experiences with Invicta as a company on the first two shows?
NRC: They treated me and the rest of the women like we deserve to be treated; like high level professional athletes. I can’t say enough good things about Ms. Knapp and Janet Martin.
CS: How familiar are you with your opponent on July 13th, Jessica Penne? What should the fans expect out of the fight?
NRC: Yes, I am familiar with Penne, she is the former Invicta world champion. Fans should expect a very exciting fight. I always fight hard as Hades.
CS: Invicta FC commentator and MMA champion, KingMo, has called you a female Wanderlei Silva because of your hard charging and violent style. Does this come from a desire to entertain the fans or is it more your natural fighting style?
NRC: It’s just the way I fight
CS: What is your mood like on the night of the fight? Do you have any superstitions or routines that you have to perform?
NRC: My mood on day and night of the fight is like every other day; 2 cents short of loca! Just kidding! I am pretty calm. I have a few superstitions and routines; I always get my hair braided the day of the fight and warmup.
CS: When you are in the cage, what type of coaching and feedback do you look for from your corner? Does anyone’s voice standout over the others?
NRC: I can always hear my husband and main coach Travis Calanoc’s voice and I can also always hear Miesha Tate voice if she is there.
CS: When you aren’t training, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? How do you relax after a long day of training camp?
NRC: I read books, comics and I study hair fashion. I also like to long board, cook, paint, and write poetry. During camp I like to read a book or watch a movie, or have a discussion with my husband.
CS: Lastly, MMA is equally a team sports as it is an individual sport. Who would you like to thank?
NRC: I would like to thank my sponsors: FighterGirls, Funkygums, Babes of MMA, Sangre Management, UPC Tulsa and Team UnderDawgs!!
NRC: Special thanks to Travis Calanoc, Charlie Mills, Nulf, Jose, and Miesha Tate.