By now, you’ve probably heard of Tabatha Ricci. Maybe you know her for her MMA dominance. Or maybe you’ve seen her wandering to and from her gym, Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the Central Coast. Or maybe you recognize her as our newest Authentico.

It doesn’t matter how the hows or the whys line up, because if you’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with Tabatha then you know she’s a big believer in hard work, discipline, and positivity. And if you didn’t know that, well now you do. But a list of positive character traits and accolades only means so much, so we decided to drop Tabatha a line and get a more personal perspective on things. We talked about her inspirations, what keeps her getting on the mat, and lots more. We can’t promise that you’ll be able to stack as many plates at the gym as Tabatha after reading this, but we will tell you that you’ll know more about the newest member of our 805 family. And with that:

805: How did you get into this sport?

Tabatha Ricci: My dad is a top-level Judo player and physical educator. It was almost a natural progression to get involved. I started Judo when I was six years old, so I was exposed to martial arts at a young age but did not know how much they would impact my life. I participated in many different sports but didn’t realize how deep my love and appreciation for martial arts was until I was a teenager and started Muay Thai. From there I realized this was more than just a hobby, it was a passion and lifestyle, since then I have never wanted anything else.

What does fighting mean to you?

This one is easy: Everything! My training, my family, my teammates, my friends, and the most important aspects of my life all connect to this amazing sport. Not just the light in my life but also the dark. The commitment, the suffering, the loneliness, the testing of my body, and the mental struggles all come from fighting. Every aspect is worth it and makes me a better person in life and makes me who I am. I can’t wait to continue this journey and see what’s next.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My Dad, my hero, Carlos Salto. He walked the road before and has shown me the way.

What sort of preparation and conditioning do you do ahead of a fight?

This is a tough one because the process is a combination of all the training and hard work that I do. Everything focuses on this point for one goal, to WIN. You may have heard this before but the fight is easy. All the work I do before, all the practices, four times a day, hours upon hours. Weight cuts, late nights, and early mornings no matter the conditions.  I do it all knowing when the time comes I’ll be ready and I will always be ready.

Aside from physical training, what sort of mental preparation do you have to do ahead of a fight?

Recovery and taking care of my mental health is just as important as anything else I do, if not the most important. I meditate, do breath work, do yoga, and I read. I find a lot of inspiration and motivation in reading Micheal Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s strength and conditioning coach, Tim S. Grover’s books. To be a champion it helps to understand the path other greats have taken.

Do you ever experience burnout from training? How do you avoid it?

It takes a lot of mental toughness. Each training strengthens my mind and will. I am driven and focused. I have a goal and am prepared to do whatever it takes to finish what I started. I love the process, I love the training and if ever it seems hard I remember my goals, and I am reinvigorated every time.

Do you have a signature style in fighting? Tell us about it.

I am a grappler. Rickson Gracie, one of the most decorated grapplers and fighters of all time has a saying, “I am a shark, the ground is my ocean, and most people can’t even swim.” This is my foundation, but I spend countless hours mastering all the martial arts I need to be successful in the cage and in my career. I can do it all, on my feet and on the ground.

What would you say separates you from other fighters in your division?

The desire and will to train that I have. The obsession, the joy I get from the process from the light to the dark.

What does recovery after a fight look like?

Of course, having a nice cold 805 at the beach…and ice cream, lots of ice cream.

Can you describe the emotions you feel during and after a fight?

Focus, tunnel vision, white, blank, finding the zone. I have done all the work that needed to be done, now I just have to flip the switch. After the fight, it is not over, it never ends. There is a next fight. I am climbing a mountain and once I reach a milestone I know there is still the rest of the mountain left to climb so I get back to work.

How many fights do you usually take part in during a single year?

As many as my body allows and UFC will give me. Like I said earlier I am always ready. I am always training.

If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be?

Myself, “Whoever defeats someone else is a winner, but whoever defeats herself is invincible” Morihei Ueshiba.  I am my biggest motivation, ally, and opponent.

What do you want to be remembered by?

When I am done fighting I want what I achieved to inspire others, I want to be legendary. “Heroes come and go but legends are forever.” That’s what Kobe Bryant said. I want to finish as a champion and create a legacy other women, men, and children can look up to and respect.

You can keep with Tabatha on both her Instagram and our page. You can also follow 805 for more original content from our Authenticos.