Roberta Zocco from Altamura in southern Italy will make history this weekend as she will become the first ever female athlete from Italy to compete in a GAMMA event. The 32-year-old mother of one fell in love in more ways than one when she started the sport. “My love for MMA started by chance and it was love at first sight. I started for fun when I met my husband Agostino De Rosa who is now my coach.”

Zocco, who turned professional back in 2016, credits her husband as being the most important person in her career with his unwavering belief in her abilities and unconditional support event during the bad moments. He even gave her the nickname, “The Diamond”.

When asked about the significance of the nickname, Zocco says “the diamond has many facets, and it is one of my characteristics. I am a person who pursues excellence in many fields. I am an athlete, but also a mother of a two-year old baby, a good housewife and cook and I have a passion for music. The diamond is also difficult to scratch, and I am just like that. This nickname couldn’t fit me any better and I am very proud of it.”

Her nickname is not the only reason to be proud as she travels to Georgia as a trailblazer for Italian female MMA athletes. “I feel great pride and great responsibility. I will do everything in my ability to win the title.”

Having taken a break from the sport to give birth and then being delayed returning to the ring during the pandemic, her return to action after three years at an event in Poland in May was a career highlight for the inspirational Italian, who balances her sporting career and her family commitments. “It is not at all easy to manage the demands as a mother and an athlete. MMA is not yet recognized as a profession in Italy and the biggest difficulty for me is being able to do both things well. However, I can say that I am super satisfied with what I have achieved as Roberta “The diamond”, Roberta “mom” and Roberta “Rupeh” which is my nickname as a singer that I have reignited recently my passion for.” Check out a recent project here.

Speaking about the growth of the sport and her personal involvement, she highlights the challenges in Italy. “Italian Mixed Martial Arts is constantly growing, but in my opinion, there is still a long way to go, especially if we compare with other countries where athletes are recognised as professionals and there are huge investments in our sport. We need to explain Mixed Martial Arts and its core values to the sports community through dedicated educational programmes to convince people of how good this sport really is. I would recommend our sport to every person because it helps to increase self-esteem and teaches you to overcome obstacles in a different way. Personally, it also helped me to mature and be more disciplined.”

Travelling to Georgia for the European Championships this weekend, Zocco has the clear objective to win the European title and see the Italian flag raised in celebration.  “Championship competition is different from single bouts. You cannot predict who your opponent will be. You can only rely on your skills and experience, but I am laser focused and I will have no mercy. I am hungry for the GAMMA European title, so watch out!”

Whatever happens in Tbilisi, Zocco will continue being an inspiration to female MMA athletes and to mothers everywhere.

Follow her on IG @rob.z_mma