Serena DeJesus: A Real Fighter Inside and Outside of the Cage
“My dad enjoys watching his little girl whoop some ass in the cage.” – Serena DeJesus “The Southpaw Outlaw”
By: Thomas Vickers (MMA – Journalist)
QUEEN MMA MEDIA
(QUEEN MMA MEDIA) – Serena is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai at a local gym shortly after graduating from high school. Serena is a student of boxing and actively trains in wrestling. At the age of only twenty-five years old she has already gained an impressive collection of accomplishments. These achievements include; a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, having an undefeated 2 – 0 record in Muay Thai, hosting an impressive WMMA amateur record of 5 – 1, and being the current reigning TUFF-N-UFF Bantamweight champion.
The TUFF-N-UFF promotion has been based in Las Vegas, Nevada since it’s forming in 1994. Over the years the promotion has crafted a reputation as a high quality development league for the world popular UFC and the premier woman’s mixed martial arts Invicta Fighting Championships. TUFF-N-UFF has assisted in the development of numerous outstanding MMA athletes. Such combat competitors include the former Invicta Fighting Championships Bantamweight champion Tonya “Triple Threat” Evinger and former UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
The “Southpaw Outlaw” is clearly a fighter, but not an average fighter by any measure. Serena has been a fighter for as long as she can remember. Sometimes being a fighter involves much more than just punching, kicking, and twisting arms. Sometimes the battle is not as simple as a scheduled three round match up in the cage. Sometimes it is on a daily basis and on a personal level. Serena was diagnosed with autism at the age of thirteen years old.
Serena compares her struggles to the iconic symbol of Asperger’s Syndrome ‘a puzzle piece.’ Much like that single piece she has been searching for the place it fits. “Well I have friends finally thanks to fighting. It helps me socialize with teammates and through that I find common interests,” explains Serena when asked by Queen MMA Media how the MMA community and life style has given her a home for her ‘puzzle piece’.
Serena has become part of a team, part of something larger than herself, something that allows her to be an active participant. It has provided her a place to grow and find common bonds with others. The study and practice of mixed martial arts has provided Serena with a remedy she could not seem to find any place else. The training helps her deal with the challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather than play the role of victim or a product of an unlucky circumstance as many generally elect to do, “The Southpaw Outlaw” has become a powerful advocate for creating awareness and education about autism.
Serena meets her challenges head on proving everyday that an autistic person can build dedication, concentration, and determination. ‘The Southpaw Outlaw’ strives to become an inspiration to autistic children. Helping them to understand they can set goals and reach for them with a real passion. Serena is an example of how not only can a person overcome an obstacle but become a stronger individual because of it.
When you watch Serena in the cage you quickly realize she is far from disadvantaged. Her struggles seem almost impossible to notice. What you do see is a fighter who is evolving with every fight. You see an accomplished WMMA amateur who has the determination and heart to turn pro. Serena has been a fan of the popular professional WMMA athlete Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi.
“Like myself she was a nerdy type who also kicked ass. In school I was nerdy but also athletic. People I knew were athletic or nerdy, never both,” explains Serena to Queen MMA Media when asked how her friendship with “The Happy Warrior” had sprouted.
Roxanne Modafferi is an accomplished WMMA veteran who has acquired an impressive twenty-one victories as a professional. With years of experience Modafferi is a legitimate upper top ten world class flyweight. In 2014 Serena reached out to Roxanne who has made her home at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, Nevada. “We just clicked,” Serena continued. “We both loved anime and training and she has come to feel like a big sister to me in a way.”
Serena is still evolving as a fighter and is well aware of the leap in competition from amateur to professional. “The Southpaw Outlaw” continues to expand her skill set and is currently looking into incorporating Tae Kwon Do kicks in an effort to increase the dimensions of her already strong arsenal. There is no question Serena is one tough bantamweight to keep an eye on. Do not be surprised to see her in a pro debut sometime soon.
QUEEN MMA MEDIA Q&A With Standout amateur Bantamweight Serena “The Southpaw Outlaw” DeJesus
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – I understand you watched a lot of UFC, Pride, Elite XC, Strikeforce, and other mixed martial arts promotions with your dad when you had been young. Did you ever expect to be where you are today, a 5 – 1 amateur MMA athlete?
SERENA DEJESUS – “I had a feeling eventually I would find myself somewhere in the fight game. However I am shocked by where I am now and I have been enjoying the journey so far.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Did your dad ever imagine his daughter would be fighting in a cage? What does he think about your amateur career, martial arts accomplishments, and ability to excel at the amateur level?
SERENA DEJESUS – “My dad enjoys watching his little girl whoop some ass in the cage. He’s very happy with my growth through the good and bad. He also believes that with the way I train I can be a champion at the pro levels wherever it takes me.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – If possible can you tell me the one thing about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that has changed or affected your life the most? Why?
SERENA DEJESUS – “It’s helped me realize there’s multiple ways to teach a solution. Something I need to remember because I can become very rigid in thought, routine, etc. In BJJ there’s more than one way to get a submission and I try to apply that mindset to life.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Can you share with me how your coach John Woods has affected your training, fight game, and skill set?
SERENA DEJESUS – “Quite honestly if it wasn’t for John I have no idea where I’d be. He’s helped me evolve every fight. Every fight I have been in I’m not the same. I move different, attack different, grapple different, etc. I’m really grateful to have him in my life as a coach and someone I can talk to too. I made it a goal of mine when I won my last fight to get everyone in the crowd to sing happy birthday to him because he was spending his birthday coaching me and other fighters when he could be in California where some of my other teammates were fighting. “
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Do you feel your fight game and skill set is progressing? Why?
SERENA DEJESUS – “Yeah, I believe it’s improving. Sometimes on bad training days I doubt my growth but all I do is watch my old fights and then I see how I was then. Afterwards I’m like “hot damn I’d whoop old me’s ass if I had to! My skill set improves thanks to all my coaches and teammates at syndicate and the fact I can never stay away from the gym long.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
SERENA DEJESUS – “In the cage I guess I’m just reactive. I just move and look for gaps and attack. I look mean but mostly cause I’m squinting to see the other side of the cage without my glasses. Outside the cage I’m just a goofy but fiery nerd who love all things anime, video games and kaiju related.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Can you share with me the biggest moment in your MMA career? Why?
SERENA DEJESUS – “I have two actually. One being my win in June for the Tuff-n-Uff belt but the second was my first fight here in Las Vegas for my second MMA fight. I fought a very tough woman named Cheyenne and we had a war. But before all that just training here at Syndicate for this fight was the final point that told me this place and with John Wood as my coach was what I needed. Eventually I came here with just two big duffle bags to my name to live here and I’ve really succeeded so far.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Can you share how Roxanne Modafferi has brought benefit to your fight game?
SERENA DEJESUS – “My grappling has gotten WAY better. Also because we process things the same way she helps me break down whatever we’re learning.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – I realize your MMA training helps you deal with challenges. I understand you have a blog and enjoy writing. Does writing provide you a comfortable place to share and express your views, thoughts, and ideas? Does writing help you deal with Asperger’s Syndrome?
SERENA DEJESUS – “Writing helps me articulate my feelings cause it gives me more time to think on it. It’s hard for me to tell on the spot how I feel. I write because I know it will reach a bigger crowd of people who go through what I do. Their families, and people wanting to learn more about autism. Writing also has just naturally been a knack for me so I would always be writing about something.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Tell me a little about your journey and time in Thailand?
SERENA DEJESUS – “I was there for a month training at Sinbi Muay Thai. It was my first ever plane trip and my first place traveling out of the country. I loved training there even though it was the rainy season and unfathomably hot. Thailand is such a beautiful country and the people are so friendly and funny. I hope to go back soon, it’s been four years since I’ve been there.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – Most all fighters are aware of the reality that they will more than likely fight many of the other athletes at one point or another if they are to continue the climb towards the top. Outside of the Diaz (Nate and Nick) brothers who to my understanding have claimed they will never fight one another in the cage no matter what the payday promise is, I know of no others. With that said, would you step into the cage against Modafferi if the situation presented itself?
SERENA DEJESUS – “Nope, wouldn’t fight Roxy no matter how much money they’re throwing out there. She’s too important to me and is like family. However if she goes eating nachos without me that’s a different story.”
QUEEN MMA MEDIA – One thing is for sure “The Happy Warrior” and “The Southpaw Outlaw” sounds like one MMA superhero comic book that would be hard to pass up.
QUEEN MMA MEDIA
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