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Invicta FC 28’s Rebekah LeVine says fight with a man kick-started her MMA journey

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Invicta debutante Rebekah LeVine spoke to Bloody Elbow about her beginnings in MMA and her mentoring by the UFC’s Liz Carmouche.

Rebekah LeVine

Invicta FC 28 goes down this Saturday night live on UFC Fight Pass. As we’ve come to expect from Invicta, the card includes a mix of established, up-and-coming, and debuting talent.

Among the better known fighters at Invicta FC 28 are Mizuki Inoue, Pearl Gonzalez, and Milana Dudieva. On the other side, one of the fighters new to the organization, hoping to make her mark on Invicta – and eventually the sport – is Rebekah LeVine.

LeVine, an atomweight from San Diego, CA, comes to Invicta with an undefeated record: 1-0 pro and 4-0 amateur. She won her last fight, versus Sadie Hubbard at Gladiator Challenge, via armlock.

“I feel great!” proclaimed LeVine to Bloody Elbow when asked how she felt about making the step-up to Invicta. “I actually probably feel better now than I have for a lot of my fight camps in the past. I’ve just feel very prepared and really excited to be on a bigger stage and fight with Invicta. It’s really a dream come true.”

LeVine said that she has been a keen follower of Invicta since the Shannon Knapp lead promotion broke onto the scene in 2012, which was around the time she began training in martial arts.

“I was just mainly a jiu jitsu fighter at that point. When I heard that I was going to be signed with them I was just ecstatic. I was surprised, it just kind of came out of nowhere and really just happened overnight ... It really is like a dream come true. I’ve always looked up to Shannon Knapp and the whole promotion, just how it started from scratch and put women’s MMA more in the mainstream. I respect the promotion a lot.”

LeVine describes herself as a life-long athlete. From a young age she wanted to compete in combat sports, but her mother didn’t want her to get hurt. Because of those reservations, she found herself playing softball and volleyball instead of kickboxing. LeVine enjoyed those sports well enough, and did well at them, but they never really “clicked” with her.

“I think eight years ago, when I was 23 or so, I started doing jiu jitsu at a little gym down the street from my house in North Park and it just clicked. Just way more than any other sport ever did for me and I was just a natural grappler. I never found myself really click with a sport like I did with jiu jitsu and I really fell in love with it.”

Within three months of training in BJJ LeVine took first place in a local Grappling X tourney. After that her BJJ gym merged with an MMA gym to create San Diego Combat Academy. Once that happened LeVine entered into beginners’ MMA classes. At that point she didn’t think about becoming a professional MMA fighter, but as she got better the lure to compete grew stronger.

Eventually, LeVine signed up for an in-house ‘fight night’ to test her skills. The event, a somewhat regular occurrence back then at SDCA, pit gym members against each other. There were shin guards, MMA gloves, and two minute rounds. For LeVine’s first fight night, she was matched against a man.

“The guy I fought against was a smaller dude. He kind of had to fight me because there’s no other guy near his size,” revealed LeVine. “I trained really hard for it and I think he didn’t train as hard because he thought he could get away with just beating up a girl, and he didn’t. And he never really lived that down and he’s definitely not at the gym anymore.”

LeVine says she was “hooked” on MMA after that experience. “That feeling after you have a fight, especially if you do well in it, the euphoria of it all. It becomes very addictive.”

A few more in-house fights followed before LeVine started competing in amateur MMA in 2014. She turned pro in 2017.

LeVine credits her team at SDCA for her progression. She said she really “lucked out” with being at the gym when it evolved into the home of UFC pioneer Liz Carmouche and Bellator flyweight champion Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. LeVine singled out SDCA coach Manolo Hernandez as being especially instrumental in her development. “He’s hilarious and amazing and he’s like a father to me. He’s very motivating and he’s kept me at it and pushed me to my limits.”

Both Carmouche and Macfaralene are mentors to LeVine. Carmouche, who currently fights in the UFC’s flyweight division, was among the first professional fighters LeVine ever met and she remains a key role model for her, as well as a training partner.

“We’re definitely in different weight classes, so as light sparring goes, we keep that to a minimum,” said LeVine. “She helps me a lot with my striking, though. With getting inside and closing the distance. She has a lot of knowledge with how to get ready for the fight. She helps me with my weight cutting and my nerves – just talks me through it.”

“We were just talking the other day about being really prepared and finding my routine,” continued LeVine. “What music I like, what distractions I can have, how not to amp myself up right before ... She helped me find things that really occupy my mind, like reading fight psychology books, athletic psychology books, things to just help me focus in and not get carried away with the things that excite me or get my heart rate going too much.”

One of the activities that LeVine uses to keep her relaxed, and fit, is surfing. The Californian, who is trying out ‘Surf Punch Surf’ as a fight nickname, said catching waves is also great cross-training for MMA.

“I feel like I have a lot of power in my striking due to me surfing throughout my whole life, because it keeps you really loose. It keeps your muscles longer, leaner, and when you’re surfing you really have to focus in the moment. You have to stay calm, you can never panic, because that’s when you start drowning.”

The lessons she’s learned from surfing, and Liz Carmouche, will all be tested on Saturday night. Standing opposite LeVine in the Invicta cage will be Jillian DeCoursey, who also has a 1-0 pro record.

DeCoursey, who has an amateur record of 7-1, got her first pro win at Invicta FC 25 versus Ashley Medina. It was a fun, back-and-forth fight and LeVine is expecting more of the same when she meets her.

“I kind of see us both brawling it out, honestly. I feel like we have somewhat similar fighting styles so I’m hoping that we’re able to exchange a lot and not get tied up and bore people. But I never really want a war. I want to finish someone. I want to dominate them as much as possible. I want to finish it; knockout, submission, whatever it happens to be.”

You can watch LeVine make her Invicta debut, in Salt Lake City, UT, on Saturday, March 24th. Invicta FC 28: Mizuki vs. Jandiroba is exclusively live on UFC Fight Pass starting at 8PM ET.