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Piera Rodriguez poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on April 3, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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Piera Rodriguez Feels Healthy And Reborn

After Taking A Year Away From Competition, Piera Rodriguez Feels Better Than Ever Ahead Of UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Curtis 2

Piera Rodriguez felt like something was off. When she went to training, she had a sense of dread. She was in pain from pushing through injuries, from not resting her body enough and from facing expectations on her as an undefeated fighter. Sure, she was in the UFC and picked up two victories in 2022 after winning on Dana White’s Contender Series, but she wasn’t herself. It came to a head when she suffered her first professional loss to Gillian Robertson in April 2023. Finally, her mom looked at her and asked: “How the hell can you enjoy this if you’re in pain all the time?”

That started a process of clicking things back into place for “La Fiera.” She took time off, went back home to Maracaibo, Venezuela, underwent surgeries and spent time healing her body and mind. Now, just days from her first fight in a year at UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Curtis 2, she is ready to let loose.

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“I reset everything,” Rodriguez said in her interview with UFC.com. “I remembered where I came from. I went there, I trained with the people that I trained with for the first time, and it was like a wakeup call. I was reborn.

“I healed my body in every sense, and then I came back, and I was like, ‘Wow, I really love this and I miss this.’”

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The 31-year-old Rodriguez truly believes she wasn’t “fully there” for her last two fights. Although she picked up a win over Sam Hughes before losing to Robertson, she believes she was there physically and consciously, but there was a hesitancy, as well. 

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While an undefeated record is always a nice thing to brandish, especially for a fighter making their way up the ranks, it also comes with a weight, one Rodriguez described as a “heavy bag.” That’s partly why she was able to shake off the loss so well. While it was the first time facing failure in a mixed martial arts contest, Rodriguez is quick to acknowledge that she has faced adversity before. 

“It was my first loss in my MMA career, but this is not my first loss in life,” she said. “I lost a lot of times in my life, and I think like every time I lose something or I have to go through a hard situation, it just makes me get a better version of myself because I have to push myself to develop a new thing about me. I think this loss just makes me better as a fighter.

“Now that the weight is not there anymore, it's like, ‘F***, I can enjoy my fights again.’ I can go crazy. I don't have to take care of everything. I don’t have to be so controlled. I can go a little bit more, have more fun. I think that's very important.”

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She’ll absolutely need to put her best foot forward as she faces UFC veteran Cynthia Calvillo. Although Calvillo has lost her last five fights (the last two via split decision), she is still viewed as a tough challenge and has fought the best at strawweight and flyweight. Calvillo was also someone who came into the UFC as an undefeated prospect, and Rodriguez expects a gritty challenge from the 36-year-old. 

Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela punches Sam Hughes in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela punches Sam Hughes in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

That said, Rodriguez feels like she has rounded out her own game nicely and can succeed wherever Calvillo choose to engage. 

“I think it's perfect because I can challenge myself and I can learn from her,” Rodriguez said. “I can learn from this fight a lot. I'm going to fight with a veteran. It’s not like I'm going to fight with a new person in the company or someone easy. I'm fighting someone that has much more experience in this cage than me. I think that's going to just build me up more.”

 

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Although Rodriguez isn’t one to force a finish, all but one of her six wins on the regional circuit came before the final horn. She is happy to have shown she can go a full three rounds at the highest level, but Rodriguez, free of pain and free of the pressure to keep her record unblemished, believes she can show a freer version of herself on April 6, one that hopefully earns her way to a Top 10 matchup should she get her hand raised on the weekend.

Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela reacts after the conclusion of her strawweight fight against Sam Hughes during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela reacts after the conclusion of her strawweight fight against Sam Hughes during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Before, Rodriguez said she brought the conscious, technical side of herself as a fighter. In preparing for Calvillo, Rodriguez says she remembered how to turn on her “aggressive side.”

Rodriguez’s advice to everyone about to handle this version of her now? Simple:

“Don’t mess with her.”

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UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Curtis 2 took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 6, 2024. See the final Prelim and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!