Team USA’s Victoria Anthony knows what it’s like to compete on the world stage and take home the gold. Now she’s looking to do it again in a second sport.
Anthony has been a part of the United States’ national wrestling squad, and was Team USA reserve for two Olympic Games. She’s a two-time world junior champion, has captured two US Open titles and is also a three-time Pan-American champion.
Now she’s moving into mixed martial arts, the 30-year-old hopes her extensive experience competing at the elite level on the wrestling mat will stand her in good stead in the IMMAF cage as she prepares to compete for gold in the women’s atomweight division at the 2022 IMMAF World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Speaking on media day ahead of the championships, Anthony said all the experience she had gained in wrestling will be priceless when she goes for gold in the IMMAF cage this week.
“Yeah, it’s huge,” she said.
“I feel like the last 16 years of my wrestling career, and then eight years prior in judo, have all been built up for this. For IMMAF it feels like a ship taking off and then to my MMA career in total. So, it’s everything.
“I’ve competed at this point probably thousands of matches – dozens, if not hundreds, at the highest level in wrestling – and I feel like I’ve made all the competitive mistakes a person can make through that career. And I’m really grateful for that, because I just feel like I know everything I need to know to compete and perform at my absolute best, which is all I can ask of myself.”
Anthony has also had the ear of another prominent MMA name who is no stranger to capturing championship gold. Henry Cejudo won Olympic wrestling gold in 2008, then became a two-division UFC champion after capturing the organization’s flyweight and bantamweight titles.
Cejudo has been a mentor to many athletes, including Anthony, who said he has helped give her a few crucial pointers ahead of her championship tilt in Serbia.
“Overall, the advice he’s he’s really given me is just to be myself and express myself, because I have what I need ,” she explained.
“But secondly, one of the biggest things he gives myself and so many other athletes is this really valuable strategy and a way to break down opponents, so I’ll be using that this week.”
Anthony also revealed she takes inspiration from two high-achieving women’s MMA stars – one who has reached the pinnacle of the sport, and another who has been tipped to one day do the same.
“I grew up doing judo kind of with her and underneath her, so getting to see her transition into MMA, and then out of it, it’s been really encouraging and inspiring for me,” she said.
“Tatiana Padilla (more commonly known to UFC fans as Tatiana Suarez) is another California wrestler I grew up with. Seeing her as well, and just her support for me over the years, has been great.”