Las Vegas MMA fighter now facing toughest opponent: lymphatic cancer

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 9:40 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A MMA fighter has gone going from fights in the cage to be confined to a hospital bed. Last week, she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.

Maria Favela moved to Las Vegas two years ago from Mexico to train at Xtreme Couture MMA on Sunset and fight the best of the best. Now that community is rallying around Favela as she is fighting for her life.

“The MMA mindset has been helping me in this journey,” Favela told FOX5.

“I was having a lot of pain on my chest, a few fevers and the doctors told me that it was COVID,” Favela recounted. Favela rested at home and took medication hoping she would get better.

“When you are MMA fighter, when you are in the cage out of the octagon, we don’t have insurance,” Favela explained. As the professional athlete’s health continued to decline, the 30-year-old knew she needed to do something.

“I was getting worse and worse, and I came to Mexico to see what was going on, to look for a specialist because here it is more affordable to see a doctor,” Favela stated. In Mexico City, Favela ended up in an emergency room with intense pain in her chest.

“I couldn’t breathe. I was with the high fever again. I was coughing but I spit blood that time,” Favela recalled. Favela got a full work-up and the diagnosis: lymphoma.

“When they told me, ‘You have cancer,’ the first thing that I thought was I’m dead,” Favela confessed.

Doctors tell the fighter there is treatment, but it comes with a hefty price tag. “Like a million pesos, like $75,000,” Favela was told. As she remains in Mexico, friends in Las Vegas have set up a fundraiser to pay for her treatment.

“The doctors just told me yesterday that I need a bone marrow transplant, I need chemo. When they say I am going to lose my hair too, it is something kind of hard to think about it,” Favela shared. Favela says some of the biggest names in fighting have opened their hearts and wallets to help, even people she doesn’t know personally.

“Makes me feel so loved and full of energy. We are great fighters, but we prove that we are great human beings,” Favela contended.

While Favela was training 8-10 hours a day, there was no time for a second job which didn’t leave her with a lot of savings. Favela hopes 6 months of treatment will be enough to win her cancer battle. Her ultimate goal is to get back in the cage to fight again.

Here is a link to the fundraiser: