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An Interview with "Spider Monkey"
Stephanie Hernandez, in the blue gloves, versus Marissa Messer-Belenchia in an atomweight fight at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on May 31.
Photo by John Fucher
By Brian Woodman Jr.
June was a memorable month for Marissa Messer-Belenchia. “The Spider Monkey” began the month with a 3-0 professional record after she defeated Stephanie Hernandez during an atomweight bout at CES 56 in Hartford. She ended that month by winning her professional boxing debut against Delaney Owen (we conducted the interview before she actually fought). We discussed her career and how she recently signed with the all-women’s MMA organization Invicta.
1. Could you tell us how you started with Reality Fighting? I got started with Reality Fighting because Kipp Kollar has been a friend of my coach, Andrew Calandrelli, for years. He let me have my amateur MMA debut for him in June of 2015 at Mohegan Sun, and since then we have become great friends.
2. Will you continue to fight with CES? I will definitely continue to fight for CES. They are a great promotion, and they will allow me to showcase both MMA and boxing at a professional level.
3. What are the details regarding your deal with Invicta FC? I recently signed a four fight contract with Invicta FC. I will be debuting for them later this year. They will allow me to still fight for CES and in local shows to stay busy.
4. Which opponents have been the most challenging thus far? Every opponent brings forth a challenge. Every next fight is the most challenging because you never know someones strengths and weaknesses until you go toe to toe with them.
5. When did you start training? Which school did you start with? I started training in traditional Martial Arts for about a year, and then I’ve been with Andrew Calandrelli at Ultimate MMA in North Haven, CT ever since. I have been training full time with Andrew for over 7 years. He is my main coach for MMA, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, and Muay Thai. He brings everything together for me so that I can optimally utilize technique for my body style most efficiently.
6. Do you have what you consider a core style? What other styles do you practice? I put time into every aspect equally. Jiu jitsu, boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing.
7. What other schools do you train with? I train full time out of Ultimate MMA in North Haven, CT with Andrew Calandrelli. I only travel to different gyms if he brings me to get other women to challenge me with different body types/styles.
8. According to your fighter page with Tapology, you will compete in a boxing match with CES later this month. Is this still happening? Yes I am making my Professional boxing debut Saturday June 29th for CES Boxing at Foxwoods Casino.
Stephanie Hernandez, in the blue gloves, versus Marissa Messer-Belenchia.
Photo by John Fucher