By Caoilte de Barra
After achieving national success earlier this year, Mercedes Custodio Lopez hopes to become the latest member of the Spanish team to thrive in the IMMAF ranks.
Mercedes only began her MMA journey just over a year ago after being encouraged to get involved by her cousin and has found herself hooked ever since. Outside of the cage, however, she works on a farm after growing up in the countryside of Spain, working with goats in particular.
“Well, I live in a rural area of Extremadura, so since I was little I have grown up in the countryside. My parents have had goats since I was born. It is a sacrificial job that has to be attended to every day of the year. Among the main tasks I perform there are; milking the goats, feeding them in times when food is scarcer and when they are breeding, and helping to feed the kids and separate them before they go out to graze. And at cherry picking time, my sister and I go to pick the fruit in the field.”
As well as working on the farm, Mercedes is also a spinning instructor, and with the hectic schedule, she explained how she balances it all.
“Well, the key to everything is getting organized. I go to the fields very early, and then my father takes the goats out to graze, and my sister, my mother, and I return home with the milk, so I have the rest of the day to give classes and to carry out my training sessions that, being in the same place, give me more facilities to combine them.”
As for competing, Mercedes’ debut came in the final of the Spanish national championships, where she submitted Laura Centenera with an anaconda choke to secure her spot on the national team.
Looking ahead to the European Championships in Italy, she is admittedly nervous. However, detailed how she will be fully ready for the task ahead of her.
“Well, it seems like a great opportunity to me because it generates a mixture of nerves and emotion in equal parts, but I have the support of my team and my family behind it, which helps me to cope much better.
“The first thing to be a good fighter is dedication and discipline through hard work and training as much as possible, so that in the championship it will not be less so I will give 100% of myself and try to get the maximum in each fight.”
Mercedes is a part of the fourteen named athletes set to represent Spain at the 2022 IMMAF European Championships. The nation usually performs to a high level and is often seen on the medal podium. The full squad set to represent Spain can be found here.