The worlds of MMA and pro wrestling are intertwined, and Thunder Rosa is a part of both of those.
In addition to regularly appearing for NWA and AEW, Thunder Rosa is signed to Combate Americas as an MMA fighter. That training associated with her MMA career is reflected in her snug style inside the pro wrestling ring, but that was going to be the case no matter what, she tells Fightful.
"I was trained by the best in Northern California. My coaches, Matt Carlos and Dylan Drake, great luxury. Everybody that was a mentor for me. They always tell me, ‘Everybody in the world or the United States, they know that people from NorCal, we are very stiff and they’re gonna know you’re from here. They’re gonna know you’re a wrestler-wrestler.’ The school that I went to, APW, Cheerleader Melissa came out of there and Sara Del Rey or Sara Amato. So, I have very, very big shoes to fill. Like I said, I couldn’t come half through with my moves with anything. If I’m gonna do something, I have to commit to it. Also, I’ve been trained by the best," said Rosa. "One of my senpais was Io Shirai, who is now in NXT. She is the champion in NXT and you can tell she is one of the best wrestlers overall in the world. Another one was (Kyoko)Kimura-san and she was an MMA fighter, too. She was the one who made me feel what a real kick feels like. Especially when you are not selling. So, ever since then I learned a lesson—when you do things, you need to do things right, you need to do things safe. It just stuck to me. I just can’t, as a performer, make something look fake. We already have that stigma on women’s wrestling that you were mentioning. It is my duty, as a performer, as an athlete, to make sure people know that it really hurts and it’s really real. That the pain is real-real. Also, just to add to everything, I’m an MMA fighter. So, there you go."
For Rosa, that ability and realness is invaluable. Even though it was instilled in her from the start, she still credits her MMA training as adding to that style that has aided in making her the star she is.
"Tremendously. I think jumping into MMA, as crazy as it was, with the little time that I had to train and everything has helped me tremendously cement a legacy as a real badass, as a legitimate contender for any woman in the business. I take that very serious. You guys know I’m training MMA currently as much as I can with the time that I have because I need to get another fight. Doing this two sports is very difficult, but is not impossible. But, people know that I’m very serious. I love this sport. Both. I love them and I have a lot of respect for everybody who gets in the octagon and can do their thing. ‘Cause it takes a type of breed of person to get in there and try to murder somebody else in there," Rosa told Fightful.
As for other pro wrestlers she wants to see cross over into MMA, Rosa singled out one of her fiercest rivals, and a woman who has actually done it before -- the former Sienna.
"We know Allysin Kay already crossed over into MMA. I think she is one of those ones that I’m like, ‘Man, she is a total badass, too.’ [Like, I have so much respect for her.] I mean, it shows every time we’re in the ring or in the cage, wherever we are. I wish that she could go and do another fight," said Rosa.
Kay has recently competed in Josh Barnett's Bloodsport, and has continued to wrestle Thunder Rosa herself as recently as this year.
You can see our interview with Thunder Rosa at the top of the page.