Diana Belbita: ‘I hadn’t even noticed’ being on the second biggest MMA event of all time

So far, Diana Belbita has been part of several unique experiences in her young life.

Currently residing in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada, the Romanian-born Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight prospect moved to North America about three years after her trainer persuaded her to take the trip seriously in mixed martial arts (MMA). Coincidentally, at the time of signing with the sport’s ultimate proving ground, Belbita was competing on the Romanian version of Exatlonthe famous Survivor-type reality series in which Jorge Masvidal also notably participated.

It’s safe to say things have gotten pretty serious since then.

Before “Warrior Princess” arrived in the Octagon, however, she was a part of history as a potential flyweight champion of Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW). After a successful promotional debut in October 2016, Belbita had secured a spot at the inaugural title. In doing so, she fought in front of the second largest MMA crowd ever with 57,776 in attendance in Warsaw, Poland’s PGE Narodowy Colosseum for KSW 39. By comparison, the May 2017 event hosted 600 participants more than UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. , the third largest of all time.

“Usually what happens around the cage doesn’t bother me at all,” Belbita told MMA Mania. “I don’t even notice. From what I read in the media, I saw that there were around 55,000 people at this event, so this arena was huge. But I didn’t even notice. Usually that happens with my fights. That does not bother me. If I have a full arena, that’s fine. If there is no one there, it’s fine again.

Full crowd or no crowd, the 26-year-old Belbita has certainly seen it all in just 21 fights in his professional career. From battling in a noisy coliseum to a silent UFC Apex facility, a lot has changed for the two women involved in this historic clash.

Belbita fought now UFC roster member Ariane Lipski for the KSW title, failing via armbar submission in the first round. It took experiences like that to help lead the judo brown belt down the path she is now on as a budding 115-pounder.

“It was weird, first of all, because I didn’t know the level of MMA in Romania and the level of MMA in Europe at that time, so I didn’t know how to fight,” Belbita said. “I was just a striker, a kickboxer who knew a little bit of judo, and if you look at my old fights, you’ll see I have no footwork, no head movement, I just walk forward and I throw punches, I don’t know. Honestly, I can’t see my old fights again because I was so bad.

“When I fought Lipski, even my coaches at the time – I was training in Romania – they were like, ‘Oh, it’s good for you to stop and fight, it’s a good experience “” she continued. “I felt like they didn’t believe in me, so I couldn’t believe in me either. Lipski at that time, she was good. She was huge. She was ready for this fight, I don’t I wasn’t ready for this fight at all. But I was like, ‘Okay! I will.'”

The mental warfare that takes place in combat sports is often unlike any other. For Belbita, it was kind of a battle not only against the woman standing in front of her, but against herself to get her there and overcome them.

“Usually I underestimate myself and overestimate my opponent,” Belbita said. “Usually I think I have to work harder, the other girl works harder than me, I have to work harder, harder, harder. Each time, I tell myself okay, I’m not here to win, I’m here to do my best. So that’s what I did there. I tried to do my best and I couldn’t do much, but you know, everything happens for a reason.

Four fights into his UFC run and Belbita is looking for his second career Octagon win in what will then be a rebound effort after a hotly contested split decision loss in February 2022. Continually growing and racking up momentum. experience, she begins to feel more and more comfortable with her abilities and where they can take her.

On Sept. 17, 2022, at UFC Vegas 60, Belbita will return after for a showdown with Thailand’s Loma Lookboonmee. Unlike some of his past opponents, Belbita doesn’t expect friendly hugs from the Muay Thai specialist.

“I know Loma is a tough, very tough opponent,” Belbita said. “Mostly because she was close to the top 15 at one point. But I don’t know why I like the match. When the UFC asked me about this fight, I said to my coach, ‘Yeah, tell them to send us the contract”. I want this fight.

“Why do I want this fight?” she continued. “Because I know that girl isn’t giving up. She does not back down. I don’t like when I have a runner in front of me, when someone hugs me – I hate hugs, I don’t like hugs, I’m not a hugger – so I really expect that she stays and fights. Stay in front of me, move forward and fight. There will be a point in the middle of the cage where I will meet her and probably one of us will fall. It could be me, it could be her. I’m not saying, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m so good.’ I know I will be a huge underdog for this fight and I really like that. I’m a money maker when I’m usually favored to lose. When I’m an outsider, I win (laughs). There will be a war. I don’t back down, she doesn’t back down. Let’s see.”