Patricia Vidonic's shot at stardom came to life in mysterious fashion.

Patricia Vidonic's shot at stardom came to life in mysterious fashion.

The local mixed martial arts fighter stepped off an airplane in Las Vegas in late August without a cell phone, computer or clear destination. She looked around the labyrinth inside McCarran International hoping to see whomever she was there to meet.

Vidonic was there because of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A year earlier, she was discovered by a co-executive producer of a reality show through the popular social networking website MySpace. The producer, Penny Buffington, wanted Vidonic — an up-and-coming professional fighter — to participate in the show, she says.

Born and raised in the Rogue Valley, Vidonic gave it some thought, talked it over with her husband, Jason Vidonic, and then jumped at the chance.

After casting, confusion and lots of waiting, she finally got the anticipated call this summer: Pack your bags, the voice said, we're ready to film.

And now here Vidonic was, standing in the constant shuffle of an airport terminal, ready to begin her great adventure but unsure as to where and when it might start.

"I didn't see anyone looking for me," she recalls. "I had to call Jason and he got ahold of the producers. They told him to tell me to take the tram to baggage claims. I saw some of the other (contestants) and remembered them from pics on the website."

And so the fun began.

Vidonic — known as "Little Patricia" in the MMA community — will be featured in the upcoming reality show television series called Ultimate Women Challenge, which is set to debut nationally before the year's end.

For five weeks, she lived under one roof in Las Vegas with 15 other women. The collection of MMA participants consisted of eight 125-pounders and eight 135-pounders.

The series will document their lives.

"It documents how we train and get ready, and how we interact with people," says Vidonic, a 31-year-old who attended South Medford in the ninth and 10th grades. "Also each show was dedicated to a special social cause and charity."

Each episode features a challenge and an elimination. While the winners get a prize, the losers receive a punishment, Vidonic says.

The Medford resident, who is 5-foot-11/2, only recently took up the sport, adopting it about two years ago.

"Jason realized I had a good knack for it," she says.

By May 2009, she was a full-time fighter. Vidonic, who most often fights at 125 pounds, is 0-1 as a professional after losing in a bout to Valerie Coolbaugh at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde in July. She was 4-1 as an amateur.

Amateur fights are composed of three three-minute rounds in the octagon. A pro fight is made up of three five-minute rounds.

Vidonic was cast for the show in June 2009. The only Oregonian picked, she ended up being taken as a replacement.

Her plane ticket arrived in August of this year. Producers originally told contestants that the show would be filmed in Florida, Vidonic said. Also, the original air date was set for September.

After meeting her competition at the airport, Vidonic and the group of women piled into a vehicle and set off for the mysterious home they would be living in.

The house was "really big and really fancy," Vidonic recalls. "I shared a room with two other girls. I was glad I had that room. There was also a room with five women. Everyone was pretty respectful."

As for the experience itself?

"It was pretty difficult," says Vidonic, who has an 11-year-old son, Marky, and a dog. "We had no outside contact to the world. No letters, no phone, no computer, no music, no books, no newspapers."

She said that the organizers of the show encouraged the women to be themselves. Vidonic described the show as "more of a docu-reality."

"It was fairly easy," Vidonic says. "There were times when we had photo shoots and media things and had to smile and all that good stuff. They never asked us to act differently, just to maybe mind our p's and q's ... we all tried I'm sure."

At times, she found herself surrounded by cameras and boom microphones.

"There were a lot of people wandering around with cameras," she says. "They had to ask permission to come into the room. It was something you had to get used to. I was in the kitchen making food and the next thing I know I had a camera in my face."

Vidonic has yet to see the finished product and is curious how it will all be edited and presented. She doesn't own a television and plans to have viewing parties at several of her local sponsor's locations.

Looking back, Vidonic says the experience was invaluable.

"I think there were some lifelong friendships made," she says.

For more information, visit ultimatewomenchallenge.com.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail djones@mailtribune.com