Saturday, October 29, 2011
Spotlight Interview: Kaitlin Young
May 31st 2008. Why is that date of any importance? That is the day I became a fan of Women's MMA. The day Gina Carano and all the hype that came along with her, fought a woman I did not know named Kaitlin Young. It took me all of a few seconds to become a fan of Kaitlin. I watched the fight, and although Kaitlin lost due to a doctors stoppage, I truly felt Kaitlin was the better fighter of the two. Through following Kaitlin, I became a fan of Women's MMA in general. Kaitlin's record does not do her talent level justice. Kaitlin has fought and beat some outstanding fighters, including a TKO win over current Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate. Kaitlin is coming off a win recently over Liz Carreiro, and I was really excited when she agreed to do this interview. If I was a basketball blog writer, Kaitlin would be my Michael Jordan, if I was a football blog writer, Kaitlin would be my Tom Brady.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started with the sport?
A: In MMA, I specifically got started in MMA because my coaches were cornering someone in Bodog and I saw some of those fights, and they were like "You should get into this". But originally I had been practicing Muay Thai at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. That's when they suggested I train ground and wrestling and what not, and get into MMA. Even before I started kick boxing, I was competing in Olympic style Tae Kwon Do from 14 on. So it's been a long slow transition to less and less rule really haha.
Q: Do you prefer MMA to Muay Thai now?
A: Not necessarily. There are a lot more opportunities in MMA and the pay is way more. But all things equal, I would love fighting pro Muay Thai just the same. When opportunities arise I take those as well.
Q: For your first MMA fight, how did you decide you were ready?
A: I really didn't have a huge part in it. I just waited till my coaches told me I was ready, and they set it up for me. I just trained really hard and let them dictate when I was ready.
Q: Early in your career you fought and got a TKO over Miesha Tate. Considering where she is now, with the Strikeforce title, would that be someone you want another shot at?
A: Yeah.... I mean I would fight her again. Obviously I had a bad run there, so I need to probably earn that fight, I don't think it would just be given to me, but I am ok with that. I would love to fight Miesha again, but I don't have my heart set on one specific person, I just want to stay active right now.
Q: Everyone knows I became a fan of Women's MMA in 2008, when I saw you fight Gina Carano, a fight I thought you were winning. But you lost due to a doctors stoppage. Was that frustrating?
A: It was frustrating having the doctor stop it. Mostly because a lot of what she said didn't add up. She said my answers were gargled, but if you watch the tape, they ask where I am and I said "I am Elite XC in Newark, New Jersey" I think I said the date. I was not concussed, and then alter she said that wasn't why she stopped it, she said it was cause I had a fractured orbital, and I did not. I had a cut forming, but below the eye, so it wouldn't have impaired my vision. I don't really believe it was stopped for my safety, but I also don't think it was stopped to protect Gina or anything. I did have a black eye forming, and it was gonna open up in the third round, she was landing the right hand pretty well. I just think it was stopped for the wrong reasons.
Q: Do you think, because still today sometimes women's fights are stopped early, that it was due to being a female?
A: It may have. Hard to say if it was because we were female, or cause it was the first prime time show, it's quite possibly a men's fight would have been stopped, because they didn't want the image of a super bloody face on t.v., which is what it would have been. I would have been able to see, but it would have been ugly. Which is fine, it's something you accept as a fighter. But maybe they didn't want the general public to see that. There have been fights stopped that are gender related, but I am not sure if that one was.
Q: Going into that fight, knowing how big a deal it was for women's MMA, were there any extra nerves?
A: You know, I didn't feel extra nervous. There were cameras there, but inside the arena it wasn't really that packed. So I wasn't thinking "there are a million people watching". The thing that was hard, was there was a lot of media around us, and that sort of distracted my training and I wasn't mature enough to deal with it correctly. I didn't say no to anyone who wanted an interview, and in hindsight I should have done that or had someone else handle it.
Q: That being said, was she deserving of all the hype?
A: You know, it's very interesting with her. She is a good fighter and I won't deny that. I have an issue with the discipline and weight making with anyone who misses more often than not. It's hard to say where someones skill level is if they are often fighting someone moving up a class or even at a catch weight. Then a lot of the time people have a harder time than if it was with someone at a similar size and skill. Maybe you have someone with similar skill but not size but it's not quite the same challenge. With her, I think its hard to say, Elaina Maxwell was her size, but I haven't seen her fight a lot of people at her size.
Q: Would it be better for Women's MMA if she was fighting?
A: I think so. I think she draws a lot of attention to the sport. Quite honestly, a lot of people know me just cause I fought Gina and she is so popular. Over all, she is good for the sport. Myself personally, I have tons of respect for the girls who are skilled grapplers, but I think the average fan doesn't, so the fact she is a skilled striker also helps with fan appeal, if that makes sense. So I think there would be more interest and televised fights if she were a part of that.
Q: Earlier this year, you lost a decision to Julie Kedzie. I have heard people say you won, say she won, or say it was a draw, what did you think?
A: You know, I think it was closer than the score cards said. That said, I don't think I did enough to say I got robbed. I feel it could have gone either way, no sense making a stink about it. Obviously if you are fighting in someones home town you are not gonna get a gift decision, if it's close, you know which way it's going haha. That's something I accepted going in to the fight. I don't think I performed my best, I was too relaxed, but it was a learning experience and good to get a full 25 minutes for the first time.
Q: That was my next question, was the extra time hard for you?
A: I don't think it was hard for me. Like I said, I was too relaxed in that fight. I think it could have been harder if we were going harder, it was a boring fight I will admit that. But, I think it was strategy on their part because they asked for 5 rounds instead of three. I think Albuquerque being a mile up, it was something they hoped to use.
Q: Your last fight you got a TKO over Liz Carriero, safe to say you were satisfied with your performance?
A: Yeah I was actually. I was supposed to fight Jan Finney originally, but I had the same game plan. It was my first time having just my boyfriend Ryan Murray in my corner. But it went well, his advice was perfect and worked perfectly. I was really happy, I followed the game plan.
Q: Did you feel going in, she was someone you could finish?
A: You know its always hard to say. I felt like I could, but I try to always have that mentality. I didn't know how I would be able to do it, cause she did seem very durable from what I saw. I guess I had planned on trying to, but more, I just planned on winning.
Q: You are known as a striker, but do you feel people don't notice you have a ground game?
A: Yeah, which is fine, I love to be underestimated. But yeah, its better than most people realize, but my striking is my strength usually, so I use it when I can. But I am comfortable on the ground.
Q: Looking at Women's MMA as a whole, are there any changes you would like to see or anything to improve it and it's fan base?
A: I think if there were more televised fights that would be good. Right now Strikeforce and Bellator are the only ones. I think to hit the level of the men, more visibility would be good. You are seeing it with people like Germaine and Ronda and Sara McMann getting into it, where it is drawing the top athletes from other sports, and it will improve the divisions overall. But the more visibility is there, the more money is there. That's part of it to, so many of the women's promotions have been kind of spotty so you can't depend on it, so we have to have some other form of income. Whats allowed the men to get to the level its at, is there is a solid group of guys who can depend on their fighting and sponsorship income and just train. So its allowed the men to push higher. So more visibility and sponsorships and more solid organizations.
Q: If Zuffa does shut down Strikeforce, is that a big hit to Women's MMA?
A: You know its hard to say. I think probably they are looking at using Strikforce to see how Women's MMA develops. But if they pulled the plug, I think Bellator would try and pick up the pieces a little bit.
Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching?
A: Oh yea, too many to list really. lately I only watch a fight with my teammates or a close friend. Nobody specifically. I like skilled fighters, but to me its a bout match-ups not a specific fighter.
Q: A lot of times I hear from fighters who say they don't like another fighter. No one ever says anything negative about you, do you take pride in that?
A: I don't know, I guess I never thought about it. That's cool though now that you say it. But no, I just try and be professional and real.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Thank you Jason for supporting not just my fighting, but Women's MMA as a whole. Huge thank you to Ryan Murray for helping me get ready for fights and cornering me. All the guys and girls at the Academy who help me train for fights and being supportive through the good and bad, it means a lot. My manager Nick Thompson. My sponsors One and Done, Gamebred, Epic Fight Gear, and Intimidation.