Veta Arteaga goes into a positive COVID finding that scrapped her and Desiree Yanez’s planned fight at Bellator 257
Veta Arteaga finally gets the chance to get back into the cage and get back on the winning track at Bellator 257, when she takes on Desiree Yanez.
The two were expected to do battle at Bellator 250 in October, with both participants even successfully weighing in for the fight. But later that night, Arteaga tested positive for COVID-19, and Bellator announced the morning of the card that the fight was off.
In an exclusive interview with FanSided MMA, Arteaga detailed her experiences with testing positive and the symptoms she ended up getting.
“I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms leading up to the fight; I felt fine,” Arteaga told FanSided MMA. “Even when I was out there, I had taken a test and I tested negative. And then, unfortunately, I had to take another test after my weight cut, and I don’t know if I was just one of those people that had it but didn’t show any symptoms until later on due to my weight cut, my immune system going ‘Whoa!,’ taking water out of my body, so I felt fine.
“After my weight cut, I did go back to the hotel room. I felt a little different, but I thought it was just because of the weight cut. I didn’t want to overthink it, I was like ‘Oh, it’s probably just the weight cut so I’ll be fine here in a couple of hours.’ He did say my heart rate and my blood pressure were really high and he wanted to check it the next day, but I didn’t think anything of it too much. So when the doctor called, I thought he was just calling to remind me that he wanted to see me again before I was going to compete. And he told me I tested positive and I was in shock. Like, ‘This is so crazy and interesting.’ I did a whole quarantine and I got symptoms after a couple of days. No taste, no smell, the night sweats — nothing crazy compared to some of these people that have had worse symptoms than me. My team all tested negative; so it was just a weird experience.”
Despite battling the illness and having the opportunity to fight pulled away from her suddenly, Arteaga wasn’t deterred. She felt even more motivated when the next opportunity for the fight to be booked came around.
And to top things off, she feels arguably the best she’s ever felt in her MMA career.
After COVID battle, Veta Arteaga feels determined, and even more motivated, for fight with Desiree Yanez at Bellator 257
“[It] added more fuel to the fire; I was ready to go in October. I was ready to fight,” Arteaga said. “Definitely with COVID hitting, it made me have a different appreciation of life, why I love my job, having a better appreciation of my health [and] my body — a bigger meaning of everything. And so it definitely sparked something in me and motivated me. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been in camp forever. If anything, I’ve been training like this is the first fight I’m ever going to have.
“I feel like I’m in probably one of the best shapes I’ve been in in a while. As far as just my cardio, my tenacity, my endurance, I feel great. So, it fueled me. I have this fire in me that I definitely want to unleash. So, it sparked something in me. It didn’t wear me out. I thought for a minute I was gonna feel drained or stressed. I’m eager to get back in there. Of course, I was a little frustrated at times because I haven’t fought in over a year, but I use that energy as a positive thing that I’m grateful for my health and I’m excited to go back in there. For whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right back in October, but I’m even more ready than I was.”
What may be also contributing to Arteaga’s extra desire to return to action is the search for a needed win. Arteaga unsuccessfully challenged then women’s flyweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at Bellator 220 in April 2019, losing via third-round doctor’s stoppage. Arteaga then dropped a unanimous decision to Alejandra Lara at Bellator 235 later that December.
It marked the first time that Arteaga suffered back-to-back defeats in her career.
A blessing to come from those losses, however, Arteaga says, is that both performances gave her the chance to mature in the cage.
“I was able to take away just a lot of different things,” Arteaga said. “They were both two different opponents. With Ilima, I focused more on my grappling; with Alejandra, I focused more on just my stand-up game. So with this fight, having those losses, I took away that I am ready for whatever. I’ve always been ready for whatever, but now it’s more in my face that I am ready for whatever — whether if the fight goes to the ground, whether the fight stays standing. I have matured in my personal life and I’ve matured in the MMA life of just the discipline aspect — of knowing what needs to be done, when I got to do it, and just to get it done. There are no excuses; There’s nothing but to just go out there and do me.”
On a more positive front, Bellator 257 marks just the third time that Bellator will be presented on Showtime — a network that Bellator CEO Scott Coker is plenty familiar with. The hosts of the old Strikeforce promotion, Showtime and Strikeforce played a pivotal role in giving women’s MMA the spotlight at a time when there wasn’t really any attention on female fighters.
In Arteaga’s eyes, Bellator linking up with Showtime isn’t just a win for the current fighters and the brand. She feels, like how Strikeforce and Showtime did, it can inspire a crop of future female talents for the sport.
“It means a lot. If anything, it’s just an opportunity for women to get more recognition in this sport,” Arteaga said. “So I’m really honored to be a part of Bellator, they’re a great organization to fight for. I love working with them. I just see it as opening doors as far as women that are upcoming and women that I have been around, including myself. I’ve been with Bellator for at least five years.
“So, I see it as a door of opportunities for a lot of things for whatever they want to do, whether it’s in commentating or judging or whatever as far as opportunities go. It’s going to be a good thing for women’s MMA, or just MMA in general, too. I think it’s awesome because a lot of boxing gets shown on Showtime too so I think it’s good to kind of have the people that watch boxing have an opportunity to kind of see what I’m amazed about as well and vice versa.”
Perhaps there will be more opportunities for the women’s fighters currently in Bellator, too. Prior to the announcement of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix starting up, there were rumors that women’s flyweight could be in line for such a tournament. And maybe the weight class will be next in line for such a treatment.
Arteaga said she even pitched to Coker about the possibility of competing in such a tournament if Bellator held one.
“I actually had this discussion with Scott Coker in December when I was in Hawaii that I would definitely want to be a part of that,” Arteaga said. “He said, ‘Yeah, as long as you’re staying consistent, you’ll definitely be a part of it.’”
Before Arteaga can think about tournament participation or another shot at gold, however, she has to get through Yanez, who will be making her Bellator debut at Bellator 257. Yanez is currently 5-2 in her career, with two fights each in the LFA and Combate Global.
Her most recent contest came on the Tito Ortiz vs. Alberto Del Rio card on Dec. 7, 2019, losing a decision to Melissa Martinez.
“She seems she likes to stand up. I don’t really know too much of her groundwork, so I’m expecting it to be a stand-up game, but I’m prepared for everything,” Arteaga said. “I’m prepared for the fight to go to the ground and prepared the fight to be a couple of exchanges. I’ve been prepared for everything, so I definitely made sure that my cardio is there if I want to go in there and finish in the first round, or if I want to go in there and go all three rounds, or if I need to go all three rounds. She seems like a tough opponent, nothing but respect for her and I’m excited to share the cage with her.”
Bellator 257 takes place on Friday, April 16, 2021, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.