Kelsey DeSantis - CFA 10When spoke with CFA promoter Jorge De La Noval about his company’s upcoming women’s 145-pound tournament, he specifically mentioned Kelsey De Santis as one of the inspirations for bringing the event together.

For the former Marine, De Santis, this is not only a chance for her to take the next step in her career by turning pro, but it also means a lot more.

“I’m honored and I feel like this is just such a big thing for women’s MMA and the CFA for what they’re doing as far as this tournament is concerned and what’s on the line with the belt and 20,000 dollars,” said De Santis.

“I’m excited to fight for the CFA because not only is it an amazing promotion, but now I’m living in South Florida and I feel like even though I’m not even from here, it’s like me representing my hometown promotion.”

Although De Santis will be returning to MMA for the first time since 2011, she feels the time away has been more of a positive than a negative.

“Even in this last year that I haven’t fought, I’ve gotten stronger,” she said. “I think that’s sometimes good for fighters to take the time that they need to transition to the next level. My training has gotten even better and I’m more the fighter that I want to be.”

As part of the first round of Saturday night’s CFA tournament to be broadcast live via UStream from Coral Gables, Fla., De Santis will be taking on the most experienced opponent she’s ever faced in Allanna Jones.

“With Allanna, I know she’s a hard hitter and I am not taking this fight lightly,” said De Santis. “I feel like this fight is going to be the hardest fight I’ve ever had and I’m willing to put it all on the line.

“My game plan is really about out-striking her and then I want to take her into my world; and if that means fighting standing up, we’ll do it there, if it means going to the ground, we’ll go there; but I want to end this fight as soon as possible.”

With so many talented fighters in the tournament, it would be easy for De Santis to scout ahead to possible match-ups for the next round. But while she’s mindful of the competition she could be facing later on, De Santis is firmly affixed on Saturday night.

“Honestly, I try not to think about that because if I don’t go out and do what I need to do on Saturday, then I don’t get to face any of the other girls, and I really want to,” she said. “What’s in front of me right now is Allanna and that’s what I’m focused on.”

(Photo courtesy of CFA and Rolando de la Fuente Photography)

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