Stripper gave up pole-dancing job to become UFC fighter nicknamed ‘Lil Monster’

She is the stunning American fighter who retired as a stripper to pursue her UFC dream.

Crystal "Vanessa" Demopoulos had been mixing a career as a pole dancer with professional MMA fights.

But the 33-year-old has decided lap-dancing for men into the early hours of the morning while training for upcoming fights is too much of a workload.

The strawweight, nicknamed 'Lil Monster', stopped her 13-year pole dancing career to focus fully on her most recent training camp where she went on to beat rival Silvana Juarez at UFC 270.

And the decision paid off as 5 feet 2ins Demopoulos beat Juarez with a first-round armbar submission. She will now fight Jinh Yu Frey on June 25.

But how did the UFC superstar transform from a stripper to a fighter worth a reported $2 million?

Early Life

Demopoulos was born in September 1989, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Her parents and paternal grandparents raised her in their native country of Greece before the family moved to America.

She was academic at school and shone winning a host of prizes and honours.

Her mom had also been a dancer so Vanessa followed in her mum's footsteps and became a pole dancer at the age of 20.

Speaking to Cageside Press on YouTube she said: "I followed in my family's footsteps. My dad was a DJ and my mom an entertainer so that's how they met. When I was growing up it was normal talking about the clubs. When I became an entertainer my dad taught me how to hustle. It was nice to have that support."

Pole dancing career

Demopoulos has never kept her pole dancing career a secret from her fight fans.

After her last victorious fight against Juarez she told MMA Junkie: “I don’t think it’s a secret, I was an exotic entertainer for 13 years.

“And I didn’t actually say it on the mic, but I’d like to say it right now – I walked away from being a stripper to continue this camp.

"I quit dancing so I could focus full time on MMA, I take this extremely seriously in the gym every single day."

She told Combat Press how the agility required for pole dancing helped with her jiu-jitsu.

She said: "Pole dancing takes a lot of agility, a lot of body awareness, a lot of dexterity and flexibility, and you have to be quick with your reactions.

“It’s similar to what jiu-jitsu feels like, but in jiu-jitsu, you have options of tapping if you have to, or you’re safe if you are on the ground.

"With pole dancing, it’s very death-defying in the sense that you’re literally hanging on with, like, a limb, and one wrong move, you’re done."

Demopoulos has released an instructional book called 'Stripper Bible.'

She told Cage Press: "I am a stripper and an author. I do a bit of everything. It's an instructional how-to for strippers.

"I gave lapdances, that was my job. I am an expert at pole dancing. I was doing it before all the pole dancing fitness stuff. Lapdancing is how they make their money it's what I used to do."

Career as MMA fighter

Vanessa doesn't lack confidence and believes she is the next UFC superstar.

She has been fighting for 10 years but started her professional career back in 2017. She has seven wins and four losses.

She told Combat Press: “I’m glad I look like the new superstar because I am. I am definitely the new superstar so they need to keep their eyes peeled on that."

After her latest victory Demopoulos, who weighs 115lbs, now has seven wins and four losses.

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