Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Gina Begley Interview
Sometimes I have no plans so I order an MMA event on-line. A couple weeks ago I did just that. I was glad I did. I got to see for the first time a fighter named Gina Begley. I was really impressed with what I saw. I saw someone who while early in her amateur career seems to have a very well-rounded game with a lot of potential. Gina lost a split decision that night, but you could definitely make a case for her having been the winner. I was so impressed that before the event was even over, I sent her a friend request on facebook in the hopes of contacting her because I really wanted to get an interview with her. Here is that interview.
Q: Can you talk about how you got interested in training for the sport?
A: Well, I had always been involved in sports and and activity. I would sign up for a gym and run on a treadmill or do the circuits of weights, but I would last about three months and then get bored and quit. I had a friend who had started a kick-boxing classes here in town with Scott Elliot. They said you could do it for fitness and I thought it was perfect. They also had a youth program, so I felt it would be great, I could start for exercise and also learn something. I started going to the day-time class twice a week and enrolled my son in the Jeet Kune Do program. When I would take him I noticed they were rolling and doing Jiu-Jitsu. I signed up for a Jiu-Jitsu class myself. For six months or so, I was participating in the classes for exercise, and I got into it and started going to the open gym sessions, where they sparred and rolled and things. First I wouldn't really participate in the sparring, I would work with a friend on the pads or bags. Eventually I came around to asking Jessamyn Duke about beating me up a little bit, and that is how I started sparing. From there it progressed and I got better. I had a friend ask about joining the fight team and I said "you're crazy, we do this for exercise, there is no way". She started the fight training program and eventually I had been doing the grappling and there came a local tournament. We did our first tournament and I won first place and my son also won first place and we were hooked. After that, I decided I wanted to do a kick-boxing tournament. Since then I have been hooked on the competitive side of it. Even now, when i fight MMA, part of the reason is it gives me something to work on for fitness, you have to be in such good shape and strong in so many aspects. So I like to keep myself in check and fit.
Q: When you decided to fight did your parents or anyone react negative to their daughter getting hit in the face?
A: I was twenty-eight or twenty-nine, I already had a child. I have never been super close with my family I guess. Growing up, I had always been getting into little fights in school. They were used t me being that way and the Martial Arts helped calm me down a lot. They were happy to see me put that energy towards competitiveness. They didn't even get interested until my second MMA fight with Sarah Cook and I had been involved in martial Arts for three or four years. They weren't surprised, but they weren't into it until here lately.
Q: That first MMA fight, before you got in the cage, do you remember what went through your head? Were you nervous or excited?
A: I've never really been nervous. When I first started competing in Jiu-Jitsu, I would get nervous. After I did it for awhile my nerves calmed down. Now before I compete I get sleepy. I don't wanna think about it. I wanna sit in my corner, listen to music and shut my eyes. Even my first Muay-Thai match, I fought a girl with quite a bit of experience, at the venue she walked around happy and flexing. Jessamyn Duke said "you should take your shirt off to, you are pretty stacked, show off a little" and I was like "No, I'm good". I have always been more like "I got this". I train hard, I have some of the best trainers. I never feel like I am gonna get beaten up, so I never feel nervous about that.
Q: Your first two fights, you won them both by rear naked choke, is that something you look for or just a case of the opportunity presenting itself in those fights?
A: That was a case of the opportunity presenting itself. It's not something I pull off a lot in the gym or practice a lot. Honestly, I practice armbars non-stop. It was something I wasn't good a and had a hard time with so I practiced over and over again so I would get good at them and find them from multiple places. So, the rear naked chokes were just kinda there. Armbars are something I would think I would have more in competition.
Q: Just recently you lost a split decision to Vanessa Demopoulos, what did you think of the decision?
A: Well, at first, I was kind of a poor sport about it. I am really competitive. We went to the back and Jorge Gurgel was there and I was upset and he said "you won that fight, but you are an amateur, it's not like you got ninety-thousand dollars on the line". That got to me a little bit and I said "You're right". I have learned a lot from it. Going into that fight I knew she had maybe five kick-boxing matches. I was pretty sure of my striking but thought my wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu would be a lot better than hers. In the fight, my striking was a lot better I thought than hers. We were more even in the clinch, but I felt I was winning the clinch so I kept going back to it. Also, it was like 10PM at night. I had asked to be early in the card. I wasn't mentally there and got stuck in a loop. I am not upset, I learned a lot. I learned to get out of that loop and listen to my coaches. I am happy with the fight and what I learned. Next time I fight in February, I will come back better and more prepared and know more about myself.
Q: I was impressed with your clinch work, you seemed the more active fighter, that being said, at any time were you trying to break the clinch or were you comfortable there?
A: I was really comfortable there. Like I said, I expected us to be more even in the stand-up, so I was really comfortable with the clinch. I expected to go to the clinch. When we would exchange, that is where I expected it to go next. I felt I was doing well there. It didn't appear that I wanted to be there as much as I was actually like "o.k., there is where we are at, I am good at this and happy here". I was actually looking for the clinch more than I was the striking.
Q: looking back, is there one thing you wish you had done differently?
A: I should have changed it up and listened to my coaches more. They were giving me good advice but I got stuck in a loop in my head that I was doing good there and going back to it. I would sue my striking more because that is where I do my best.
Q: When they announced the decision, I saw your face and you were unhappy, but you seem to be handling it well now. In a case like that, is it hard to put it out of your head and move on to the next one?
A: I really thought I had one and was expecting to have my hand raised. It was kind of a shock, a million thoughts went through my head, that I was never gonna do this again or I am fighting again soon or I ant believe it. Then there was music and dancing, so "how do I get out of here?" I million things were in my head. After the fight is over and the initial thought of "o.k., you didn't win". I am good now. I am training every day and back on schedule. I look forward to February. It was a good experience and come February I will be a better fighter.
Q: Any idea how many amateur fights you want before you turn pro?
A: That is something I will take as it goes. I am still in school. I plan on fighting in February and then May and maybe again in the summer and then assess where I am at and see if it is time. After the summer and the three fights I hope to have, I will sit with my coaches and see where we are going. I will be thirty-two then, my window is not shot but it does narrow as I get older. I think after the summer I will decide from there and see if I need more experience or if it is time.
Q: Are there any fighters you like to watch and maybe pick things up from?
A: One of my favorite fighters to watch is Anderson Silva. I love his movement and striking. One of my favorite Martial Arts is Savate and he has that Savate movement, I enjoy watching him. Georges St.Pierre is one of my favorites, he uses that jab a lot. From females, I really enjoy watching Shayna Baszler. I get to work with Jessamyn Duke and she is one of my favorites. Cyborg is one of my favorites, I really like to watch her.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coaches, Sifu Scott Elliott and Khun Kru Jessamyn Duke. My teammates at the AFS Academy, Horsepower Strength and Conditioning, FEVER Fight Wear, A Healing Stone Massage, WVFights Sportsradio and my son Chris Begley and all my friends and family that support what I do.