Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Laura Marcusse Interview
There are a couple people who when they talk, I listen. So when Jessica Philippus reached out to tell me about Laura Marcusse, there was no doubt I was going to ask her for an interview. I am very glad Jessica did. As you can see just from this interview, Laura is a beautiful woman who destroys the naive myth about what female fighters are and their personalities. A smart, hard working, and determined woman, Laura is someone to keep an eye one, as she has the potential to do big things in the sport.
Q: First, Laura I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: You're very welcome! I so appreciate anyone who supports women's MMA.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Well, I'm 28 and have lived in Kansas City most of my life. I now live with my boyfriend of 5 years, Nathan. I have a degree in business and entrepreneurship and love working with start-up companies. I helped found a company called Adorn.com and enjoyed every bit of the experience, including finally securing venture capital funding from a high-profile San Francisco firm and moving to NYC for over a year. Now I work with Nathan at his new company NoLimitWheels.com. While being an entrepreneur can mean putting in a lot of hours, it affords me the flexibility to train consistently. ...Plus this new company is more Nathan's deal than mine so he does the majority of the work :-)
Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?
A: I was not particularly athletic at all. I wasn't exactly the person picked LAST in PE, but I'd say I was definitely toward the end hahaha. I don't really come from an athletic family. We tend to shine in academics and business, but not so much in athletic pursuits. I played a little bit of volleyball and ran track in high school (actually the first female pole vaulter at my school), but I also went to a VERY small private Christian school so making a team was pretty much a given. However, I started taking Karate my freshman year in high school and found that I really excelled at it.
Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?
A: I got my black belt in Karate right before I went to college and then didn't really do any martial arts during college. A little while after college I went through a really tough time in my personal life and was looking for an outlet. I stumbled on some guys doing MMA at my local gym and asked if they offered classes and if I could join... and the rest is history.
Q: Was the training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: I'd say I had a bit of a leg up in terms of striking because of the Karate, but I was surprised how quickly I picked up the Jiu Jitsu... I loved it immediately! Its a strange thing at first...rolling around with big sweaty guys, but I had an older brother who rough housed with me all the time growing up so I wasn't intimidated by it or uncomfortable.
Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: I probably trained about 2.5 years before my first fight. I really had no intention of actually fighting when I started training. Then, as I began to dedicate more and more time, money, and thought to the sport I figured, "hey, I may as well give it a shot at least once."
Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?
A: Noooooo. Well, at least not my family. You have to understand, they've always seen me as the perfect 4.0 student in both high school and college, an accomplished piano player and business-minded woman. Fighting just doesn't fit into that mold! Plus, I come from a conservative Christian family so the perception is that MMA is all about violence and things that aren't exactly ladylike. That being said, my parents have since begun to come around and while they still don't love the idea, they aren't as openly opposed to it. My boyfriend has been great too, he's a great support and actually understands a lot about the sport so offers good advice.
Q: Where do you train at now?
A: I train at Grindhouse in Lee's Summit, MO. with Brian Davidson and a ton of fantastic pro and amateur fighters. I also had the chance to train at Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center for three months this winter with Tiki Ghosn and Razor Rob McCullough. That was a really great experience. I was pretty intimidated at first being at a new gym with such high-profile guys, but they were great to me and I learned a ton. Tiki is a fantastic MMA coach.
Q: Can you give your overall record so far?
A: I'm currently 2-1
Q: Is there one fight you would say you are most proud of?
A: Probably my first fight, just because I was so nervous and the girl had a good record,
was more experienced (well, how could you not be) and super tough. I made a big mistake early and was in a bad position most of round 1, but came back in round 2 and got the win.
Q: What would you say is your biggest strength and the one thing you most want to
A: I'd say I'm a pretty well-rounded fighter. More than anything I wish I just didn't get so nervous before fights!
Q: Name the one fight you have seen that you will always remember?
A: Man, there are actually a lot coming to mind right now. That Anthony Petis kick was pretty amazing!! More than anything I love surprises--and MMA is full of them! ...this last John Jones fight was certainly memorable too.
Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or love to watch?
A: I actually really liked both Anthony Petis and John Jones before they were very well known. I love Marloes Coenen and Meisha Tate ...I think I'm probably supposed to pick a side between those two, but I can't! Its always fun watching people I've had a chance to train with like Rob Kimmons, Razor Rob, James Krause and Jose Vega.
Q: In your opinion, who are the top five female fighters in the sport pound for
A: Megumi Fujii, Cyborg, Marloes Coenen, Tara LaRosa, and Sarah Kauffman
Q: Do you ever see a major U.S. women's only company being viable?
A: Umm....I think that's a really big long shot. I know that's probably not a popular thing to say. I love women's mma, I support women's mma, but I'm also a realist and I just don't know if an all women's mma company would have enough of a draw with the primarily male fans. It all comes down to who can draw the biggest fan base and the most advertising dollars. There are lots of guys who love to watch girl fights, but there are also a ton who don't....unfortunately. Its been interesting reading the comments sections on websites that are posting stories about the fate of female Strikeforce fighters now that the UFC has purchased it. Quite a bit of negativity directed toward women's MMA...but that's just good motivation for us!
Q: Often you watch a show that has one women's fight. Somehow that fight always
turns out to be the most exciting fight on the card. Why do you think that is?
A: This is absolutely true! I'm not sure exactly what that is, but women waste no time in getting down to business. I can think of several male fights where the majority of time was spent with distance jabs and dancing around and barely any engaging. I can't think of a single female fight like that!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?
A: I think there are a few big misconceptions. Obviously the tendency is to think of female fighters as all being super masculine or thuggish, which isn't always the case--certainly not with me. Another big misconception has to do with fighters in general being unintelligent and generally violent people. There are a lot of misconceptions about the sport. A lot. Don't even get me started on that hahaha.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to train for the sport, whats the biggest
piece of advice you would give her?
A: Go for it! I think its a very empowering endeavor...but be prepared for how hard its going to be. Nothing annoys me more than a girl who want to "be a fighter"
because her boyfriend does MMA or something and she does nothing but complain about how hard the training is. The girls who take it seriously have worked hard to earn the respect of the guys in the gym--please don't undo it by whining.
Q: Outside of training and fighting, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: When I'm not training I'm usually working, but when I want to relax I love cooking and baking. I'm really a homemaker type at heart! I also have a horse that I love to ride, but he lives on Nathan's ranch which is a couple hours away so I haven't had a chance to ride in a few months. Is getting massages and pedicures considered a hobby? If not it should be.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Laura Marcusse.
A: I usually get up around 8:00 and get a bit of work done while I have my morning coffee. Then I train at Grindhouse from 10:30--12:30. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I immediately go workout with my conditioning coach for an hour and then go home and make myself some lunch. I get some more work done and grocery shop for dinner. If I have a fight coming up I usually go back out to Grindhouse in the evening after dinner from 6:30--9:30 to get some sparring, Jiu Jitsu and Muy Thai in. I like to be in bed by 10:30.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Usually when I'm asked this question its in a business context so I always bring up MMA. I guess looking at it from the opposite point of view people might be surprised to know that as a Freshman in high school I took the ACT early and got a perfect score in science so I was recruited to summer "science camp" (read nerd camp) where a handful of kids from all over the US studied and worked with various types of cancer at the University of Iowa. I graduated 5th in my class from college and was the youngest person ever promoted to a senior account executive position at the global communications firm where I worked during and after college--all this to say I am kind of a nerd at heart.
Q: Describe Laura Marcusse in five words.
Q: So whats next for you? Any idea when you will be fighting again?
A: I just had a fight about a week ago so I don't have anything scheduled yet, but I'm sure I will soon. I feel like I have a limited amount of time to see where I can go with MMA so I can't waste too much time!
Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: In no particular order of importance...I want to thank Brian Davidson at Grindhouse for being such a fantastic coach. I really feel like he cares about my success and cares about me as a person. Its like a family over there! My friend Jessica Philippus for being such a great encourager and training partner. She has a really cool new website/clothing line called wrslrchick.com that helps promote girls in wrestling and MMA....and a big thank you to Deryck Ripley for helping me hone my jitz skills and for introducing me to Jessica!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they
getting in Laura Marcusse and person?
A: Yes, I am looking for sponsors! They can reach me via Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd a good company/product representative because I'm articulate and according to Jessica, I'm "adorable". LOL. I also know how to work with the media and make sure that product talking points are delivered effectively because that was my job for 5 years!
Q: Laura, I want to thank you for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Just to say thanks again for speaking with me!