If you look up the word “heartbreaker” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it refers to someone that causes sorrow, grief or disappointment. The word serves as the moniker of 23-year-old featherweight Veronica Rothenhausler. But if you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching her fight, you know firsthand that “Facebreaker” might be a more accurate description.

Heading into her second professional fight at Invicta Fighting Championships 6 on July 13, the Nevada native who now trains out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., has spent less than four minutes in the cage in her three amateur fights and one professional bout combined, scoring four knockouts along the way.

“My second and third amateur fights were only five seconds apiece, but those wins helped get me where I am,” said Rothenhausler in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “However, I wish that they had gone longer. In my last fight, I realized that cage time is huge.

“Chael Sonnen used an analogy about a two-by-four on The Ultimate Fighter, about anyone being able to walk across it on the ground, but put it on two ladders and suddenly it’s different. When you get in there and change that atmosphere, it adds a whole new element to it. Honestly, it’s still something that I’m getting used to. The more practice that I get, the better I’m going to get at it.”

Rothenhausler (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Stepping into a cage is still a new experience for the 5-foot-11 fighter. After spending her youth playing team sports—namely, volleyball—the new challenge that MMA brings has Rothenhausler devoted to the sport full time.

“This is the first individual sport that I’ve ever competed in,” explained the fighter. “That was a whole new thing for me. Being part of a team is great, but to be in there by yourself is very empowering; I love it.”

To help further her skill set, Rothenhausler made the transition to Team Alpha Male in late 2012. Her work with UFC veterans Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes quickly paid off as she scored a knockout win over Katalina Malungahu at Invicta FC 4 in January.

“Becoming part of the gym was huge for my game,” admitted the featherweight. “The atmosphere is great. They are all super talented and very helpful. Everyone is there to better themselves, but they’re also there to help everyone else.”

Despite her early career success, a new addition to the camp has helped Rothenhausler’s development immensely: UFC and K-1 veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig.

“I think having Duane has given us a sense of guidance,” she declared. “We didn’t really have that type of coach before. It makes it a little bit more structured and better for everybody.

“He’s been doing a great job of tightening everything up. It’s really starting to come together now.”

Already armed with devastating power and strength, as her past opponents have discovered, Rothenhausler’s work with Ludwig could be huge in her path up the 145-pound division. That is, if she chooses to stay in that weight class.

“I actually just started working with a new nutritionist,” revealed the 23-year-old. “Our goal is to get me down to a weight where it is easy for me to make the 145 cut and he says he can get me to 135.

“It’s unbelievable how big of a part of the fight game weight-cutting is. It’s really hard as hell to do. To peel that much weight off your body in that short of time, it’s the hardest part for me, by far. If I can get to 135, obviously that’s where I want to be since that’s the only division in the UFC. It’s going to take a lot of effort and work, but it’s all part of the game.”

Rothenhausler (L) connects with a knockout blow (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Although her sights may be set on bantamweight in the future, Rothenhausler must turn her attention back to the featherweight division for now. At Invicta FC 6, she faces off with hard-nosed 37-year-old Mollie Estes. The pair were originally scheduled to meet in April at the promotion’s fifth event, but an injury to the 23-year-old postponed the match-up.

“This fight is really important for me now that [Cris] ‘Cyborg’ signed [with Invicta],” said Rothenhausler. “We’re going to have a lot of eyes on us. If I can continue to knock people out, that’s going to do very good things for my career.”

“Heartbreaker” is planning to put her recent training to use when the cage door closes. And like all of her previous fights, she’s eyeing the knockout.

“I know Mollie is tough, but from what I have seen of her, I feel I am the better striker,” she declared. “I’m going to get in there and work my combinations. I’ve been working a lot with Duane on incorporating my legs into my stand-up. That’s been coming along really well.

“I’ll be coming out really aggressive, looking to set the pace of the fight. I’m going to get inside and show the power that I have. I’m going to do my thing and walk out with my hand raised.”

Should Rothenhausler’s proposed outcome come in the form of yet another finish by strikes, she might just have to try that “Facebreaker” handle on for size.

Veronica would like to thank Torque, MMA Inc., Patino Diet, Unbreakable Mouthpieces, MMA Draft, Bang Muay Thai and everyone at Team Alpha Male. Follow her on Twitter: @veronicafights

Top Photo: Veronica Rothenhausler (L) poses after her win (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)