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Tara LaRosa Bio

Tara Nicole LaRosa (born January 8, 1978) is an American mixed martial artist and grappler whose most high-profile successes occurred while competing in BodogFight, where she became the first and only BodogFight Women's Bantamweight (135 lbs) Champion. She later defeated HOOKnSHOOT 125-pound champion Cody Welchlin in a non-title bout at a HOOKnSHOOT/BodogFight co-sponsored event.

LaRosa has spent most of her career competing at bantamweight, although her natural weight class is the flyweight division. She holds wins over top mixed martial arts fighters such as Amanda Buckner, Kelly Kobold, Shayna Baszler, Alexis Davis, Julie Kedzie, Sally Krumdiack and Takayo Hashi.

She has lived in eight different cities over the course of a decade in order to train at different gyms. During 2006, LaRosa trained and fought out of Rich Guerin's Yakima MMA gym in Yakima. Starting in April 2007, she trained out of Charles McCarthy's American Top Team affiliate for 6 months in Boca Raton. In September 2007 she joined the Philadelphia Fight Factory and trained with fighters like Zach Makovsky and Eddie Alvarez. LaRosa trained at Ivan Salaverry MMA in Seattle. She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in January 2013 to train at Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts. On December 6, 2013, LaRosa was inducted in the New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Mixed martial arts career
    • 2.1 Early career
    • 2.2 International career
    • 2.3 Independent promotions
    • 2.4 Invicta FC and Pancrase
    • 2.5 The Ultimate Fighter
  • 3 Grappling and Jiu-Jitsu
  • 4 Personal life
  • 5 Mixed martial arts record
  • 6 Championships and Accomplishments
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Early life

LaRosa grew up in her native Woodstown, New Jersey. She attended the now defunct St. James Catholic High School. A love of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris action films inspired her to enroll in judo. Years later, she moved into mixed martial arts training and trained with Royce Gracie. Her first venture into martial arts was through shotokan when she was 17. LaRosa was active in field hockey, basketball, and softball. Her favorite sport outside of MMA is field hockey, which she played for 12 years after starting in the 5th grade. She earned a field hockey scholarship to attend Catawba College between 1996 and 2000. LaRosa graduated with a degree in physical education. While in college, LaRosa started training in judo and jiu jitsu. Her membership in the college's judo club led to her competing in tournaments.

Mixed martial arts career

Early career

LaRosa's first MMA fight was an April 2002 bantamweight bout against Shelby Walker in HOOKnSHOOT. She used her judo skills to get Walker to the ground, get the full mount and landed punches that led Walker to tap the canvas with her right hand at almost three minutes in the fight. LaRosa's next opponent was Angela Wilson on another HOOKnSHOOT card. LaRosa won when she hurt Wilson with a right knee, obtained full mount on the ground and unleashed punches, which resulted in a TKO win at 4:59 in round 1. At a Shooto Americas event, LaRosa submitted Ginele Marquez by armbar.

LaRosa's first loss came in May 2003 at the hands of Jennifer Howe, who was then considered to be the top female fighter in MMA. With weeks notice LaRosa replaced Howe's original opponent and competed for the vacant HooknShoot flyweight title. She was defeated by TKO after 2 minutes in the first round. She took a year off from MMA competition and returned to face and defeat Linda Langerak. LaRosa faced Alisa Cantwell at XFO 4 on December 3, 2004. She won the fight by armbar submission. It was her quickest victory, despite her illness on the plane en route to the Lakemoor location of the bout.

International career

She faced Hitomi Akano at MFC: USA vs. Russia 3 on June 3, 2006, and won the fight by unanimous decision.

LaRosa signed with BodogFight and debut against then #2 ranked Amanda Buckner in a highly touted 3 round battle in Costa Rica. She submitted Buckner by rear-naked choke with 29 seconds remaining in the bout. At BodogFight: USA vs. Russia on December 2, 2006 in Vancouver, LaRosa joined Team USA to fight her counterpart, Julia Berezikova, a member of Fedor Emelianenko's Russian Red Devil team. LaRosa won the fight by armbar submission in the second round. On another card in Costa Rica, LaRosa earned a dominant technical knockout win over Shayna Baszler. LaRosa was next set to face Laura D'Auguste in a championship bout, but an ankle injury forced D'Auguste off the card and she was replaced by Kelly Kobold. LaRosa met Kobold at BodogFight: Alvarez vs. Lee on July 14, 2007 for the BodogFight 135-pound women's championship. She won the fight via armbar submission in the fourth round.

LaRosa was in talks to join the International Fight League and YAMMA until those promotions closed in 2008 because of financial losses. Her next bout was uncertain until August 2008, when she signed with the American Fight League (AFL). The upstart AFL had also acquired Bobby Lashley, Mike Van Arsdale, Julie Kedzie and Roxanne Modafferi. Her contract with the AFL was a lucrative one for a duration of 18 months, which would have made her the highest paid female fighter in MMA. Her signing was officially announced at an AFL event on May 30, 2008 with plans to have her fight on the promotion's first pay per view card that fall. A bad economic climate was cited as the reason the pay per view did not happen. A rematch with Roxanne Modafferi was shifted by the AFL to Ironheart Crown promotion, under its Affiliate Promoter program. The bout was cancelled due to a shortage of AFL funding. LaRosa never competed in the AFL as a result of bad economic conditions. LaRosa returned to MMA competition after a 14-month absence to face Alexis Davis at Extreme Challenge: The War at the Shore on January 23, 2009. LaRosa survived a triangle choke at the conclusion of the second round and won by TKO when the doctor stopped the fight late in round three due to a worsened cut above Davis' eye. MMARising.com awarded the bout "Fight of the Year" and named LaRosa "Super Flyweight of the Year".

LaRosa rematched Roxanne Modafferi at Moosin: God of Martial Arts on May 21, 2010. She was defeated by split decision, marking her first loss in seven years.

LaRosa faced Takayo Hashi at DaMMAge Fight League 1 on November 24, 2010 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She defeated Hashi by Unanimous Decision after five rounds to become the first DaMMAge Fight League Women's 125 lbs Champion. LaRosa's original opponent for the fight was Aisling Daly, who could not get approval from Bellator Fighting Championships to compete.

Independent promotions

During LaRosa's time in BodogFight, a bout with Carina Damm, who was also with the promotion, was considered but never happened. Years later, LaRosa went on to face Damm at Shark Fights 14 on March 11, 2011, in Lubbock, Texas. The bout was made with two weeks' notice after a co-main event match between Houston Alexander and James Irvin was cancelled. LaRosa won the fight via submission from a reverse heel hook early in the second round. The match had fulfilled the first of 3 bouts LaRosa had with Shark Fights.

In 2012, LaRosa signed a non-exclusive three-fight contract with Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA). LaRosa fought Kelly Warren at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 2 on March 30, 2012. Warren replaced Angela Magana, who was injured in a car accident. Prior to the bout, LaRosa had spent her second-longest time outside of MMA competition by not fighting for 12 months. She defeated Warren by submission due to an armbar with one second remaining in the fight.

The bout with Warren was a catchweight, as LaRosa and Warren exceeded the flyweight limit by four and three pounds, respectively. It was the first time in LaRosa's career that she had missed weight, and LaRosa partly blamed the issue on a malfunctioning sauna which caused nine others to miss their contracted weight on the same card, including Elaina Maxwell and Ashley Sanchez, who were overweight for their featherweight fight.

Invicta FC and Pancrase

LaRosa faced Vanessa Porto at Invicta FC 3: Penne vs Sugiyama on October 6, 2012. Porto avoided LaRosa's takedown attempts, outstruck her in the stand up, and landed noticeably bruising kicks to LaRosa's left leg. LaRosa was defeated via unanimous decision (30-27 on all scorecards).

On September 29, 2013, LaRosa faced Rin Nakai in a non-title bout at Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary in Yokohama, Japan. She was defeated by majority decision.

On September 6, 2014, LaRosa faced Roxanne Modafferi for the third time at Invicta FC 8. She lost the fight via unanimous decision.

The Ultimate Fighter

In August 2013, it was announced that LaRosa was one of the fighters selected to be on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate. LaRosa faced Sarah Moras in the elimination round to get into the TUF house. In one of the show's bigger upsets, Moras defeated LaRosa via decision, thereby eliminating her from the show.

Grappling and Jiu-Jitsu

LaRosa has partook in numerous grappling/jiu-jitsu competitions with and without a gi prior to and during her MMA career. She has competed in different regional competitions for NAGA Grappling World Championships. In 2000, she became the National Champion in the Women's Jiu Jitsu and Women's Kumite division of the United States Sport Jiu Jitsu Association. The next year she placed 2nd in the Women's Advanced divisions for NAGA - Battle at the Beach, and first in the same division for Gi and No Gi at Music City Grappling Championship. She became Women's Champion at Submission Fighting Open 7. She competed at Southern Open Submission Championships, placing 1st in the Women's Advanced (No Gi), 2nd in the Men's (Gi), and 3rd in Men's (No Gi) divisions. LaRosa was named the Southern Open Submission Championships' MVP of Tournament.

LaRosa won first place in the (Gi) and (No Gi) Women's Advanced Philadelphia Freedom Open Jiujitsu Tourney in 2002. She also was first in the Men's (Gi) Philadelphia Freedom Open Jiujitsu Tourney. She won NAGA - Georgia's Women's (Gi) competition, and was second in the 2nd Men's (No Gi) portion. She won Grappler's Quest - Copa Alantica Women's Advanced competition, and repeated as first-place winner in Women's Advanced (Gi) for Music City Grappling Championship. She was first in NAGA -Florida's Women's Advanced (No Gi), and 3rd in NAGA -Florida's Men's Intermediate (No Gi). At NAGA Championships, she was first in both the Gi and no Gi Women's Advanced competitions. In 2003, she was first in the Women's Advanced (Gi) division of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Classic, and first in both the Gi and non-Gi portions of NAGA - World Championships Women's Advanced divisions. At NAGA - Miami, she was 1st in Women's Advanced (no Gi), and 2nd in the Men's Intermediate (No Gi).

Personal life

Tara's parents are Carmen and Charlene LaRosa. She has a sister named Tiffany. Carmen and Charlene own and operate La Rosa Greenhouses, which they opened in Woodstown, New Jersey in 1979. Her family was initially against Tara being a professional fighter. They later attended some of her fights in New Jersey and supported her decision. Tara attributes her persistence to observing her father. Carmen had recovered from a financial setback with the family farm - bankruptcy - in the 1980s. Over several years, Carmen remained committed and repaid his debts. It motivated Tara and translated over in her desire for competition: "For me, fighting isn't about fighting – it is about competing. It's about testing myself and not giving up. I compete in everything I do. It's who I am."

To support herself outside of competition, LaRosa has worked in construction, as a personal assistant, bouncer, bartender, landscaper, and a medical marijuana delivery driver. Tara listens to a variety of music including country, rap, rock and alternative. Artists she likes are Linkin Park, P. Diddy, Britney Spears, and Brad Paisley.

Tara's boyfriend, SFC Adrian Marcos Elizalde, was killed on August 23, 2007 when an improvised explosive device hit his truck in Al Aziziyah, Iraq. LaRosa was in Vancouver doing promotional work for BodogFight when she heard the news of Elizalde's death. They met as training partners while LaRosa was an instructor in modern army combat in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Elizalde, age 30, worked as an engineer in the US Special Forces.

Tara endured a life-threatening experience in December 2010 during a second attempt to complete a 70-mile hike on Western Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands trail. Her first try that September had been incomplete due to a knee injury. Unbeknownst to her during her second attempt, the challenge would be compounded by a drop in temperature caused by the recent appearance of a weather front from Lake Erie. The ensuing heavy winds prevented her from maintaining a fire to keep warm after desperately finding a temporary shelter. The lack of cell phone reception led her to contact her mother, Charlene, through text messaging. Her mother called the authorities and Tara's location was found by GPS tracking of her phone. LaRosa was rescued by two rangers from Somerset County, Pennsylvania and later treated for hypothermia.

Mixed martial arts record

Championships and Accomplishments

  • DaMMAge Fight League Women's Super Flyweight Champion 2010
  • Locked in the Cage Women's Flyweight Champion 2009
  • BodogFight Women's Bantamweight Champion 2007
  • UCW Women's Bantamweight Champion 2006
  • Women's MMA Awards
    • 2009 Super Flyweight of the Year
    • 2009 Fight of the Year vs. Alexis Davis
    • 2010 Fight of the Year vs. Roxanne Modafferi

See also

  • List of female mixed martial artists

External links

  • Tara LaRosa on Twitter
  • Tara LaRosa Official Website
  • Tara LaRosa Awakening Profile
  • Tara LaRosa on IMDb
  • Professional MMA record for Tara LaRosa from Sherdog Edit this at Wikidata
  • Tara's MySpace page
  • Interview with Tara LaRosa

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