It’s been an up-and-down ride for Alejandra Lara the past few years, but she’s hoping she may have hit on some key details to get back on the upswing.

Lara (9-4 MMA, 3-3 BMMA) takes on DeAnna Bennett (10-7-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) next week at Bellator 266. She’ll be looking to bounce back from a loss in April that she thinks was avoidable if only she hadn’t had issues with her weight cut.

After 16 months on the sidelines with a two-fight winning streak from 2019, Colombia native Lara returned at Bellator 255 and dropped a split decision to Kana Watanabe.

“My last fight was very frustrating because of mistakes made in my weight cut,” Lara told MMA Junkie Radio. “I was dehydrated at the time of the fight. By the second round, I didn’t have arms or legs – I was completely out of gas. But it wasn’t because of lack of training or something like that. It was because of those (weight-cutting) details.

“That made me realize I’m not a beginner anymore – I can’t make those mistakes. I have to take everything here and take control of the situation. I feel I have a lot that you didn’t see from me yet. I feel ready for this fight.”

Lara started her career 7-1, including a submission win in her promotional debut at Bellator 190 in December 2017. In just her second fight for the promotion, she was in the cage with Ilima-Lei Macfarlane fighting for the women’s flyweight title.

Lara was submitted by Macfarlane in the third round, and six months later dropped a split call to Juliana Velasquez, who went on to take the title from Macfarlane two years later.

But Lara found a way to bounce back in 2019 with wins over Taylor Turner and Veta Arteaga, which made the Watanabe loss likely all the more frustrating.

Against Bennett, she has an opponent who is known to one of her teammates in Mexico, which she thinks might pay off come fight night – even if she now says she has to take a more patient and concerted approach to her fights.

“You can’t have a radical plan because you don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the day,” Lara said. “But it’s very, very important to have a strategy, and it’s very good for us that as a team we know Deanna well. She fought two times with my training partner Karina Rodriguez, who is (flyweight) champion in Invicta. I was training with Karina this past month and consulting with her, and we know what to expect.

“I think I’m pretty weird, and that’s part of my surprise (in the cage). I think no one has seen what I have for this (fight).”

Lara said the lessons learned from the Watanabe loss are what she’ll try to take into the fight with Bennett, who is approaching 10 years as a pro fighter.

Bennett fought for Invicta’s strawweight title in 2016, but her loss to Livia Renata Souza was the first of her career after an 8-0 start. It’s been rough sledding since then with a 2-7-1 record starting with the Souza setback, including three straight.

But Lara doesn’t seem to be overlooking Bennett at Bellator 266, which takes place Sept. 18 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

“My goal right now is to keep my mind in (check),” Lara said. “Last time, I felt so disconnected. I know I have to hold my horses. Sometimes, it’s about patience and choosing the punches and everything I’m doing. That’s what I’m planning for this fight – to be more mature and focused.”


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