A prime example is Croatian fighter Adriana Vukovich. At age 14, Vukovich stepped into a ring and won her first MMA match. Since then, Vukovich continues to fight and win titles when she can in all combat sports, including kickboxing, BJJ, and FILA MMA.
We got a chance to talk Vukovich about training in her native Croatia and her goals as a fighter.
Wombat Sports: Tell us a little about yourself.
Adriana Vukovich: I was born on 1998 in small town Đakovo (Eastern Croatia). I am 15 years old. I’m first grade of high school, I attend Gymnasium A. G. Matoša in Đakovo. I like music, wildlife, dogs, cats and sports of course. I have sister and two brothers.
I started to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu since 2008, my father was my coach in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club “Triangle”.
Since Christmas I’m BJJ blue belt under master Roberto Atalla (Rio Grappling Club).
Also I train Muay thai, Boxing and MMA. i fight in 8 disciplines: BJJ, Grappling, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, K-1, Full contact, Boxing and in MMA.
Wombat: What got you interested in combat sports?
Vukovich: Since I was a little girl I liked to watch fights from Croatian fighter Mirko Filipović CRO COP and my cousin Stefan BLITZ Leko too. One day I watched Mirko’s MMA fight and he lost from Minotauro on armbar. I did not knew what kind of technique was that. Comentator started thalking about BJJ. I didn’t know what was BJJ was either. We googled it and we found it so interesting and cool. My father found club in Croatia but it was too far from my town. So he founded BJJ club Triangle in my town Đakovo. Although I liked watching fights on TV, I didn’t train BJJ at first. About one year later I started to train too. I liked it and I stayed in club. I got so interested at BJJ after my first fight. I found that I really like to fight on competitions, and I also found out that the winning is the best feeling ever. I train BJJ since 2008, Muay Thai and kickboxing since 2012, and Boxing and MMA since 2013.
A.V.: I just like fighting. I’m not a gladiator, but I just love combat sports and I really can’t describe how I feel when I am training and when I am fighting. I like to be very dominant in my every fight, and I respect every one of my opponents.
W.S.: How has your friends and classmates reacted to it?
A.V.: My friends support me so much and I am very blessed that I have all of them in my life. They wish me luck for every competition and they are very happy when I bring gold medal home. After every competition they have so much questions and they are so curious.
W.S.: How about your family?
A.V.: My family is very supportive. They are proud of me and I am very grateful to have them. I couldn’t be what I am now without them.
W.S.: Who do you look up to in fighting?
A.V.: Sometimes I’m trying to copy styles of certain fighters when I’m in a fight, but in fights and in every situation in life, my idol is every man or woman who isn’t afraid to do something new and who is following her/his dreams.
(With that being said), my older brother Denny was a role model to me, he is triple BJJ European juvenile Champion and double junior World Grappling Champion (by FILA rules).
W.S.: How do you feel about the future of females in fighting?
A.V.: I don’t like what many people think and talk about females who are fighting in MMA. I think that there are no differences, it doesn’t matter are you female or male. The important thing should be how much you love that sport and how much you can give of yourself to be successful. I think that it will always be some sort of discrimination of WMMA and that we must fight with that too so that our future can be better :).
A.V.: In my fights everything what I do comes so naturally. At my fight-time I’m thinking just on fight, nothing else. I’m always trying to be one step in front of my opponent and have all answers on every situations in a fight. Nothing is difficult when you are perfectly prepared for the fight.
W.S.: You started fighting in MMA this past year at age 14. How did this come about?
A.V.: I have a lot of experience in BJJ and Grappling fights, and I had a few fights in Muay thai, Boxing and Kickboxing too. My father have one friend Bernard Ban who said that I should fight in MMA and that he knows a few girls who are training MMA too. He was the organizer of the Croatian MMA championship. That sounded very interesting to me. I love MMA so of course I wanted to try that too. My nose was broken on that competition, but I won golden medal, but medal was more important haha 🙂 . Since that experience I can’t live without MMA.
W.S.: There have been many Croatian fighters that have made their mark on a global scale, but all have been male. What does it mean to you to be one of the first female MMA stars to breakout out in your country?
A.V.: I am very honored to be one of the first MMA female fighters in Croatia who contribute to Croatia. I just love MMA equally as my life… I think that MMA is my life actually and I will be very grateful to show my best in world MMA organizations one day. If I get that opportunity I can promise that I will not let down my country and everyone who supports me.
W.S.: Europe has expanded in terms of MMA opportunities. What does it mean to you to see more females in Europe take up the sport?
A.V.: It means a lot to me because that means that maybe even I could be on world MMA stage one day and show them what I have got.
W.S.: What are your aspirations in fighting?
A.V.: I’m calm before every fight, I always know what I have to do and show in a fight.
I can’t lie, I like winning, but my goal in every fight, no matter which discipline is it, is to show my best and to be better from one fight to another fight and at the age of 18 be invited to Invicta or UFC.
W.S.: Anything you want to add/thank?
A.V.: I would like to thank my family, especially my father who is my biggest support, to my friends, to my hometown Đakovo, to my professors and school director. And of course I can’t forget my coaches,they are playing a big role in my film called life and I know that I can always count on their help and advice. I would also thank Conan Silveira, Mr. Stanley Day and Duomachy. I am very grateful to all of them and I am hoping that they are proud of me.