Undefeated strawweight Kali Robbins spoke to Bloody Elbow about her forthcoming Invicta showdown with former UFCer Pearl Gonzalez. ‘Pop Tart’ Kali Robbins impressed last time out, at Invicta FC 25, when she subbed Sharon Jacobson after just 42 seconds. This weekend, at Invicta FC 28, the Eric ‘Red’ Schafer protege is looking to stay undefeated and capture her 6th pro win. Looking to stop her is former UFC strawweight Pearl Gonzalez (6-3).
The win over Jacobson was Robbins’ Invicta debut; her previous appearances came in the KOTC and RFA organizations. The sub-minute match was a frenzied affair with Jacobson attacking Robbins from the outset with a flurry of blows. Robbins appeared stunned and was then head-and-arm thrown to the ground. On the canvas Robbins clinically set-up and executed an armbar to elicit a fight-ending tap from her opponent.
Can it be comeback of the year if the fight lasted less than a minute? WOW! Kali Robbins! #InvictaFC25 pic.twitter.com/HmBQv3yzOk— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) September 1, 2017
Even though she was on the back-foot during the opening seconds of the contest, Robbins said her head was clear, when speaking to Bloody Elbow.
“It looked pretty awesome, I’ve got to give her props for that,” said Robbins. “I’ve never really had an opponent come at me like that. It just sort of froze me and I remember thinking, why don’t these hurt? And then I was like, oh crap, I need to do something before they actually connect!”
Just as Jacobson’s punches failed to leave a mark, so too did the throw. “It was such a good throw, that when I hit the mat, I felt totally fine,” remarked Robbins. “No wind was knocked out of me. And right away she put her hands on my shoulders, was inside my guard, so I just did what we do all the time in jiu jitsu 101, which is go for an armbar.”
As soon as referee Josh Rosenthal separated Robbins from Jacobson, the Milwaukee-based fighter began sobbing with emotion. Her passionate display continued right up until her hand was raised minutes later.
Robbins said part of the reason for her reaction was the joy at securing a stoppage, but the entire reason was much more to do with her journey up until that point. She explained that in a “rough year and a half” leading up to the fight she switched management because of their inability to book a fight for her.
That being said, Robbins has no ill will towards her past management and said she thought they were working hard in her interest. But the frustration at not getting booked made her feel like change was necessary.
“I was just like, why can’t I get a fight? Am I going to have to retire before I get to fight again? It was just hard to stay motivated and then I just put a ton of pressure on myself,” she said.
Robbins also wasn’t happy with her weight cut leading into the fight. She came in a few pounds over the 115 lb limit. “I was emotional because it was a super rough weight cut, plus the year and a half off, fighting for Invicta for the first time, and that she was the toughest opponent I had yet. And I couldn’t believe it was over in less than a minute.”
The impressive victory earned Robbins a second Invicta fight, half a year later, against one of Invicta’s most recognizable names. Pearl Gonzalez was cut from the UFC after losses to Cynthia Calvillo and Poliana Botelho last year.
It’s a fight Robbins is excited for and one she thought was inevitable.
“I’m so happy that I was even given the opportunity [to fight Gonzalez], because she’s a good name and she’s tough.” said Robbins. “I kind of thought we were going to cross paths before she got into the UFC because I believe she’s from Chicago, and I’m from Milwaukee, so I figured we’d meet on the local scene.”
Because of their proximity, Robbins said she “always kept [Gonzalez] on the radar.” When it was announced that Gonzalez had signed to Invicta, Robbins was confident that it was “just a matter of time” until they were matched up.
Now she has a shot at Gonzalez, Robbins is confident at being able to maximize upon it. “I think my style is going to be tough for her,” she said. “I’m definitely a pressure fighter. I’m in your face. And I believe in the ground game. I believe I’m better than the majority of girls on the ground. That’s where I feel strongest, but I’ve definitely been striking and wrestling for years and years and years. I feel like I’m good everywhere and I’m finally ready to show that.”
And Robbins believes a win over Gonzalez will put her closer than ever to her ultimate goal of signing with the UFC.
“It would be silly to say that’s not what I want, or that we’re just taking one fight at a time, we are always looking to get into the UFC,” said Robbins. “It’s a big goal of mine and every level up, every fight, that’s where I want to be.”
I want to show them I can hang in the UFC and I definitely can. It’s just a matter of time, I don’t know why they’re being so silly in taking their time, but they’ll get to know me soon enough!
Robbins thinks her chances of getting into the UFC will be especially good if she not only beats Gonzalez, but manages to finish her, too.
“Nobody finished her in the UFC, so that’s what I’m looking to do. I want to go in there and get the W, that’s the biggest thing, but I want to finish her. I don’t care how. Knock her out, TKO, submission, anything. I want to show them I can hang in the UFC and I definitely can. It’s just a matter of time, I don’t know why they’re being so silly in taking their time, but they’ll get to know me soon enough!”
You can watch Kali Robbins take on her biggest test yet on March 24th. Her fight with Pearl Gonzalez at Invicta FC 28 airs exclusively live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 8pm ET.