Ex-Invicta FC champ Karina Rodriguez explains delay for Bellator debut after signing in mid-2022

Karina Rodriguez made some noise last summer, but then it faded away.

The then-Invicta FC champion was signed to the Bellator women’s flyweight roster in July 2022. However, that’s the last much of the MMA world heard from the Mexican standout as she has yet to make her debut for the promotion now nearing a year from her signing.

Turns out, Rodriguez (10-4) took some much-needed time off to rebuild her body as he prepares to start a new chapter in her fighting career.

“I signed with Bellator last year, as you said, but the debut has been delayed due to injuries,” Rodriguez told MMA junkie in Spanish. “In my last two fights, I fought with a broken wrist on my left hand. It was very painful not only fighting, but also training. Before debuting, I took care of that issue so I can do good work and show what I’m truly made of.

“I’m a former Invicta FC champion, and I’m entering a new promotion, and I want to do a good job. So that’s what’s delayed the debut. It was an operation that I got done in October. It was a tear in the cartridge in the wrist. Fortunately I’m now good and free to train. I’ve been getting ready since January, and now I’m waiting.”

Rodriguez also had surgery on her knee while under the knife for her wrist, the idea being to only have to deal with one recovery. The knee injury wasn’t as bad of an injury as the wrist, but it was something that had been nagging her for 10 years.

“Yeah, it was two surgeries at the same time,” Rodriguez said. “The knee also had damage in a tendon, and I had a lot of scar tissue that was messing with my joint, and I was getting like some kind of arthritis on there. I wasn’t able to bend the knee well, and it was painful.

“The doctor is the one that suggested it, that he could do both at the same time. So I told him go for it, because I didn’t want to deal with one recovery and then the other. It was hard because it was left wrist, left knee, but it was the best option. I don’t regret it. The knee recovered much quicker, and I was able to return to training but without striking. Now I feel ready and renewed.”

Rodriguez injured her wrist in preparation to her fight against Vanessa Porto in 2019. After the fight, she went on to win the Invicta FC flyweight title and defend it with a badly injured wrist.

Despite becoming champion and defending her belt injured, Rodriguez does believe the two injuries were limiting her potential. She expects a much more improved version for her Bellator debut now that she’s fully healthy.

“It was limiting me a lot.” Rodriguez said. “I would enter these fights with a little insecurity because you don’t want to expose yourself in your injuries, because you know they can get worse during a fight and affect you. So if you enter trying to look out after them, but there are moments that you forget everything, but still. For starters, you can’t even train the same. I remember my last two fights, which were championship fights. I barely did any sparring. I was taking care of myself a lot. Sometimes I would take entire weeks off nursing these injuries in camp. So you do wonder if you did enough in preparation entering a title fight.”

Prior to the surgeries, the 37-year-old Rodriguez did think about retirement as she was frustrated with her health and lack of ability to train properly. That’s now all in the past as she’s been training full throttle and expects to fight again in May or June.

Rodriguez feels as though she’s got plenty to give, and that includes winning a Bellator title.

“My goal is always to be the best and represent Mexico the best way possible,” Rodriguez said. “That was my goal in Invicta, and I was able to get there. Now that I’m in Bellator, the first goal is to debut and see how I feel in the cage, how I feel without all these injuries. I think passing this first step, I always think big, getting to the title. I’m not here just to pass by, I’m here to fight for a championship belt.”