Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spotlight Interview: Charmaine Tweet

You may look at Charmaine Tweet's 0-2 MMA record and think she isn't anything special. However if you think that, then you are thinking wrong. Because that means you are not familiar with all the things Charmaine has achieved in the sport of kickboxing. She jumped into MMA by taking on Ronda Rousey in her first fight and then Anna Barrone in her second, which was a fight were an injury no doubt played a part in the finish of the fight. As Charmaine continues to improve on the ground and combines that with her excellent stand-up, she is definitely someone to keep an eye on as she will be a tough opponent for anyone.

Q: Before MMA, you were a very accomplished kickboxer. What got you started in that?
A: It started when I was 14 or 15 years old. I was really involved in fitness. Once I stopped growing in 6th grade, I stopped growing upwards, but kept growing outwards. So I got involved with aerobics and did videos at my house. One of the videos was the "Sugar" Ray Leonard boxing video. I was doing the shadow boxing and thought "it would be fun to punch something other than the air". I was always interested but at that time female boxing wasn't big so I never got into it in high school. When I lived in Milwaukee my husband met Duke Roufus and they said I should come check out the gym. I walked in and talked with his business partner and told him I wanted to box. They said "sure,, but you have the build for a kick boxer, would you like to do that to", and I said "sure why not?". The rest is history.

Q: Competing in a combat sport, not something every girl does, were friends and family skeptical at first?
A: Yeah a little bit. Not so much my friends. I lived a long way from home at that time so I didn't see a lot of my friends and family from back home. My parents didn't know what I was doing till they watched a video of one of my fights. My husband and friends in the States were completely behind me. So I never got any flack for doing it.

Q: People may not know just how accomplished you are. Is there anything from that sport you are most proud of?
A: Winning the World Championships in Thailand. Winning it where the sport originated was my big accomplishment. I loved that, it was a cool feeling.

Q: You have since started MMA. What made you move to MMA?
A: I went to a WEC show in Edmonton and saw Duke again. He looked at me and said "What are you doing? You have been doing amateur long enough, get into MMA and make money doing what you love". I love Muay Thai but it would barely cover training expenses to fight professionally there. I still want to if the opportunity comes up, but I started MMA to make cash at it. I am a mom with two kids and work a full time job. It gets expensive.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment for you?
A: Being taken to the ground. I am a big girl so its a long way to fall haha. Just the ground game, changing up my stance and moving a little differently.

Q: Are you at the point where you are comfortable on the ground?
A: Yeah I am comfortable on the ground. I don't know how comfortable I am going there. I would rather keep it up, but I know better what to do now, more than when I fought Ronda. That was an amateur mistake I made there.

Q: That leads to my next question. In June you lost by armbar to Ronda Rousey. But seeing as how she has done that to everyone, does it make it less painful for you?
A: Yeah exactly. When I saw Julia Budd lost quicker than I did I was like, "I guess I didn't do so bad, I lasted longer than a more accomplished fighter did". And not a lot of girls can say they fought Ronda Rousey in her first fight.

Q: Was it a conscious decision to fight someone like her for your first fight, or did you consider someone maybe a little less accomplished?
A: We had tried to get so many people to fight me. My husband would know more than I did cause he went through a list we had and kept getting turned down and down, and finally her name came up and she took it. If no one else was gonna do it, I had to jump into the deep end.

Q: There is a lot of talk right now about whether she or Sarah Kaufman should get to fight Miesha Tate. Do you have an opinion or do you not really care?
A: I don't really have an opinion to be honest. I think if she wants to fight Cyborg, she should go for Cyborg now if she thinks she is ready. That's a fight I would like to see.

Q: After that you lost to Anna Barrone. Did you underestimate her?
A: I don't know about that. I am pretty sure I broke my hand on the first punch, the first jab. Then she came with a big overhand right and clipped me right on my sweet spot. I tried to grab and clinch, and with the broken hand I couldn't hold her. I was talking to my coaches and Rob said "you looked fine" and people said "how in the hell did she get out of Char's clinch". There are grown men who cant get out of my clinch. I think if I had the cahnce to lock it on, things would have ended differently. But props to Anna, she came in hard and fast and clipped me.

Q: From those first two fights, what do you feel you need to most improve? Would it be the ground?
A: No! You know what? if you look at those fights, I don't think I threw a single kick. Where I had been training was mostly a Jiu-Jitsu school, I left there shortly after I fought Ronda, but trained for a year and a half, and every time we sparred, they wouldn't let me kicks. So it got drilled into my head, as soon as I put on MMA gloves "don't kick, don't kick, don't kick". I think I need to bring the kicks back. I have a hard kick. My ground game can always use work. Everyones ground game can use work. But bring my legs back to being a big advantage.

Q: With that kickboxing pedigree are people going to keep trying to avoid standing with you?
A: Oh yeah! Unless its another striker, cause strikers love to strike. But as much as possible people will try and take me to the ground.

Q: The casual fan doesn't necessarily follow kickboxing. Do you think they could look at your record and not know what you have done in kickboxing, and maybe not give you the respect you deserve?
A: Its possible I would say. But I haven't accomplished a whole lot in MMA. So time to change that.

Q: Is there anyone right now you would like to fight.
A: I would love to rematch Ronda in about a year. But I am just looking to fight, I don't care who it is.

Q: With Strikeforce staying on Showtime, and more people covering Women's MMA, do you see it growing at a steady rate?
A: Oh definitely. I mean, there are more women even in kickboxing than when Is tarted. The more coverage there is, the more younger people are saying "I can do this". Hopefully we can grow to have a nice 155 pound division.

Q: Say three years from now, where do you see yourself in the sport?
A: Three years from now I will be 38 years old. I plan on fighting into my 40's, but I am not sure. It's hard to say. It depends on my body. But I would like to see me with a Strikeforce contract.

Q: So is Strikeforce the Ultimate goal?
A: Yeah, it seems to be the pinnacle of women's MMA. I wanna be the champion of the most elite women's division there is.

Q: Before we finish anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: First I want to thank my husband Kord. He is the one who works his butt off to find me fights. Working full time I don't have the time. So big thanks to him. My trainers, Chi Chi, Ron Gonzales, Rob Rennebohm, all the guys who spar with me, my kids for putting up with me during weight cuts. And big thanks to my youngest who got a DJ mixer for Christmas so is mixing up my next song for me. And also I am fighting February 24th in Medicine Hat on a Hard Knocks card against Marcella Wineberger.

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