Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jena Baldwin Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 2-5 Hex Linc Photos

One of the real highlights on NAAFS's August 4th card was the amateur debut of Jena Baldwin. I was really impressed with how easily she was able to transfer from submission to submission before getting the tap with a beautiful arm triangle. She also showed good stand-up. While the fight only lasted a little over four minutes, in that short time I was able to tell that Jena is someone loaded with potential and is going to do some big things in the sport. I was not alone in that opinion as several people remarked the same thing, including some of the other fighters. So get to know the name Jena Baldwin.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started training for the sport?
A: My sisters were going down to Pittsburgh Fight Club, which got destroyed in a flash flood in 2010. They were like "you should come, you should come". I had two jobs then and a boyfriend so it didn't fit in my time schedule. I broke up with the boyfriend and wanted to hit some stuff. I started going down until it flooded and now I am with the owner, Eric Hibler. We train in his garage and my attic, which we turned into a gym.

Q: I noticed your arms at weigh-ins, do you do a lot of weight training?
A: We do some, but not a whole ton. We hit pads and do MMA. I coach cheerleading as well, so that has helped my whole athleticism and everything.

Q: Did you know when you started training that you would want to fight?
A: I just started doing it to get in shape, I weighed a hundred and eighty pounds then. I wanted to get in shape. Everyone was like "you should fight, you should fight", and I was said "I don't know, maybe". Now I fell in love with it and do want to fight, it's cool.

Q: How did you know you were ready to fight?
A: I pretty much left it up to my trainer, I trust his judgment. He said "let's go get some fights" and I said "alright, I'm on it".

Q: Did any family or friends have a problem with you fighting or worry about it?
A: No, they support me. Everyone knows I am kind of different, not your typical cheerleader who just runs around and goes "rah". I did it for the sport, I was in All-Star cheerleading, it was super competitive. My family is all competitive, my mom is athletic, my dad is athletic, everybody is gung-ho. They love me haha.

Q: You fought Sarah Shirey, were you nervous before you got in the cage?
A: Yeah, of course, it was my first time haha. But I was just excited to get started.

Q: Was there a point when the nerves went away?
A: Yeah, when I was at the end of the runway and there was all that smoke and stuff. I just bolted to the cage. No more nerves there haha.

Q: In round one I was impressed with how easily you were able to transition from submission to submission, is that something you work a lot on?
A: Oh yeah! Position flow, we like to do that haha. We work on it, we work on everything.

Q: Going into the fight, was the game plan to take it to the ground?
A: No, not necessarily. It's MMA so you never know what can happen. We thought she would be a ground girl judging by pictures on the All-Out Assault facebook page. All three fights, it looked like they were doing submission stuff. So we worked on that to be prepared. We work on stand-up all the time so we added some ground game in. I fee I am a well-rounded fighter, I am comfortable wherever.

Q: In the first round, some of the submissions looked tight, were you surprised she was able to get out of them?
A: Yeah, well, really, I was just adjusting. I wanted to make sure I had it tighter. I didn't feel she was getting away so much, I was just transitioning. But she was tough, her arm was backwards.

Q: Starting round two, you both went to touch gloves and she threw a little leg kick but you just laughed at it, did it upset you at all?
A: No, I should have known better. My coach said "you should have been on your defense" haha.

Q: You finished her in round two with the arm triangle, did you know you had it?
A: Oh yeah! She was panting a little and I could tell it was on. I put my shoulder into her throat and it was on haha.

Q: Was the post fight back flip planned or did it just come to you?
A: I can tumble and all that stuff, so everyone said "you should do something cool". I was so excited after that the back flip was the only thing I could think of. Maybe next time I will do something cooler haha.

Q: A lot of people, myself included, made comments about how impressed they were and that you showed a lot of potential, having only one fight, to get that kind of praise, how does that make you feel?
A:It is an honor really. I just wanna do the best I can and represent the sport the best I can and go as far as I can. It's cool.

Q: How did you like working with the NAAFS?
A: Nichole and everyone was so nice. They were awesome.

Q: Any idea when you would like to fight again?
A: As soon as possible. I am not injured so might as well keep the ball rolling.

Q: Anything you took from the fight that you want to improve on?
A: The whole fixing to get ready thing. I don't wanna get hit first, I wanna do the hitting haha.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: All my family and friends. Eric Hibler and his wife have helped me so much. All my supporters, friends, cheerleaders. My cheerleader team all said "we wanna come watch you", there is like a hundred kids haha.


  1. what an inspirational lady and fantastic role model for all the real girls. Congratulations on finding where you fit and long may you continue. Good luck. UK Fan. x

  2. Should make a women's tournament

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