Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taylor Munsell Interview

Originally Taylor Munsell just wanted to take up boxing when she entered the gym. Several months later she was entering an MMA cage for the first time. Taylor won her first two fights before suffering her first defeat last year. Moving and other things have kept Taylor from training and fighting since then but she is hoping to eventually get back to training and fighting at some point.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started training?
A: I had always been interested in at least boxing. My mom took me down to a local gym about three years ago and I started boxing and five months later I had my first fight.

Q: When you first started, was the plan to fight?
A: No! Not at all. It was just to get in good shape and that was it.

Q: You started with boxing, so why did you try MMA?
A: Because the gym that I went to was mainly MMA. I didn't know that at first. I am glad I went that route because I have had a good start with MMA.

Q: Some people may be concerned with their daughter or friend getting hit in the face, when you decided to fight were your family and friends o.k. with it?
A: At first no. My mom was o.k. with it, she had to sign for me because I was only sixteen. My dad was absolutely against it, he hated it. My grandparents were pretty supportive. Everyone pretty much was but my dad.

Q: That first time walking out to the cage, were you nervous or excited or both?
A: I was very excited. I was fighting in front all my family and friends, it was in my hometown. I was nervous, I didn't know what to expect because it was my first fight.

Q: Do you remember how you felt right after that first win?
A: I was on cloud nine. There was nothing else in the world that mattered. My coach came up to me and picked me up and flew me around. The promoter had me say a couple words. My mom picked me up and gave me a big hug and everyone was congratulating me. I was on cloud nine for a couple months, it was the best feeling ever.

Q: At that point do you realize you can do this and be good at it?
A: Oh yea, it was definitely something that I put my life around. It was my number one focus. It was high school and MMA and that was it.

Q: Your last fight was your first loss to Haelle Smith. After you get a couple wins and are feeling confident, how hard was that first loss to take?
A: It was hard but it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be. I wasn't supposed to fight Haelle, both my opponents backed out. Three months prior to that I had been training with Haelle. We were pretty good friends and we had trained together for a year. It was very unexpected. It was hard because I had to lose against a friend but it made me realize a lot and I took it with good spirit and it made me realize not to be a sore loser.

Q: That was over a year ago, is there a reason you haven't fought since then?
A: I have had some things in my life that have put me on a setback a little bit. I have moved to a new state by myself. There has been things that have put me to where I don't have the ability to train right now. I will be getting back into it eventually I hope.

Q: So the plan is to eventually hopefully fight again?
A: Yes, I would love to. First thing is I have to get back down in weight. There are a ton of good gyms here in Colorado Springs and I plan on getting back and getting my cardio back and then hopefully start training MMA again.

Q: There are several good gyms out there like you said, does that make you more optimistic knowing you have so many good options?
A: Oh yeah! I don't even think I would be able to just train at one gym. There are so many people to train with. There is Raquel Pennington, Summer Bradshaw, Jeremy Kimball, some of the Wildman Team come here, Altitude MMA, 719 Fight Team, a ton of places, so I don't think I would be able to train in just one place.

Q: Assuming you do fight again, from your last fights, were do you feel you most need to be better?
A: I would definitely say that I want to work on my ground game more. I do know quite a bit but am still pretty much a beginner. I trained with Patricia Vidonic before and she taught me a lot. I am mostly a stand-up fighter.

Q: Is there anyone you like to watch and try and learn things from?
A: That's a hard question because there are so many good people. I definitely like to watch Michelle Waterson, she is one of my role models. Raquel Pennington, I have met here and hope to train with her. Leslie Smith has amazing stand-up, she is awesome and also from Colorado which is way cool. There are a lot I look up to.

Q: Looking back even to when you started, would you have ever imagined seeing women in the UFC?
A: No, I didn't. When I first started, I didn't know anything about fighting, anything about the UFC. It is amazing to see women can push a men's sport so far.

Q: I am gonna put you on the spot. Invicta is coming up, what will be fight of the night?
A: I am gonna say Cassie Robb and Livia Von Plettenberg. I am actually very good friends with Cassie, I grew up with her and am a brides maid in her wedding come up. Cassie is a little scrapper. I am planning on going with her to Invicta. I also want to see Cris Cyborg and Marloes Coenen. I have followed Cyborg and am excited for that one as well.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I would like to thank my mom. She is up in heaven but she got me started in all of this. My first trainer Forrest Tobin, he got me a long way and is one of my role models. All the girls and guys I trained with. I don't have coaches right now, but thanks everyone who got me where I am today.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maura Gay Delaware Open Prep Journal

Blog 2: 7 Weeks Out

Hey everybody! It’s Maura again! I’m now 7 weeks out from the NPC Delaware Open, where I’ll be competing in figure.

I had a request from someone on my Tumblr blog for a no-B.S. look into competition prep, so here it is, straight up, a day in my life:
• 4:20am – wake up
o try to get out the door without forgetting anything
• 4:30am – out the door
o off to the gym
• 5:10am – arrive at gym
o time to train
• 6:15am – hit the shower
o get ready for work
o try to make it look like I didn’t just spend the past hour sweating bullets
• 6:35am – run out the door, protein shake in hand
o head to work
• 7:00am – arrive at work (a desk job in information security)
o eat breakfast (chicken breast and some sort of vegetable, purely because I’d rather have cold chicken than cold eggs)
o check emails
o check systems, begin work
• 12:00pm – lunch
o more chicken and veggies
• 1:00 – back to work
o my job honestly varies day-to-day
• 4:00pm – done work
o head home
• 4:30pm – arrive home
o unpack from the day
• 5:00pm – make dinner
o usually ground beef/bison, rice, and some sort of vegetable
o om nom nom!
• 6:00pm – get ready for the next day
o prep meals
o pack
o prep supplements for shakes
• 7:00 – hang out
o watch tv, Facebook (you can find me at here), Skype, etc
• 10:00 – zonk
So there’s a day in the life of Maura Gay. So exciting, I know.

As a side note, last week was “max effort week,” a.k.a. the best week ever. My big 3 maxes (in pounds) were: 275 deadlift, 125 bench, 240 squat. Awesome!

Let me know via facebook or Tumblr message if you’d like for me to write about some particular aspect of my prep or if you have any questions (about anything, really)!

I’ll leave you guys with a photo from a shoot I did in Baltimore back in March. Love this shot!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hillary Spearman Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-5: RX Muscle/Tyson Arts

Hillary Spearman just made her bikini debut at the Upstate Classic. She finished a respectable fourth place, but she is the competitor who caught my attention. I was very impressed with her stage presence and really thought her back stood out. I definitely see Hillary as someone with a very bright future in the sport and a name you will hear for a long time.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I played softball in high school and once I graduated I needed something to keep me busy. The gym was almost an outlet for me with stress and work and school. I didn't have softball anymore so I started picking up weights in the gym and realized that was gonna be my new sanctuary.

Q: Was there something specific about it that you enjoyed?
A: Going up in weight. It is invigorating to get stronger and stronger and see differences in yourself and your weight and your training.

Q: What made you decide you wanted to try competing ?
A: I set a goal for myself a year ago. I was struggling with an eating disorder and I decided at that point that I would no longer deprive myself of nutrients and instead I wanted to see that there was a good mixture of food and exercise. I said if I got my eating disorder under control and gained confidence in myself that I would get on stage. Almost like if I had found I was beautiful and could have confidence in myself that I wanted to get on stage and see my improvements and see how far I had come.

Q: A lot of people don't understand bikini, did you have to explain to people it was fitness and not some T&A thing?
A: Oh my goodness, I have to do that on a daily basis. My parents still think that I am gonna walk through the door and be this huge, masculine Ms. Olympia type. I have to explain that there is a difference between each division. Each girl I give props to. As far as bikini, yes, everyone is like "that's so trashy, you're gonna be showing everybody everything." I have to explain that that is not what it is, I cant just get up on a stage in a bathing suit and compete in such a great division. It takes time and hard work and dedication. I have to ignore the blogs on-line because they upset me because people don't understand how hard of work we put into it and how hard it is to stay lean and fit to be able to be on stage. Not everybody will completely understand.

Q: Doing prep for the first time, what was the hardest part for you?
A: The hardest part definitely was just being able to go out with friends. Not all of them drink but a lot of them don't have healthy eating habits so I was eating healthy and they were snacking on whatever they wanted to. It was like "you're not eating enough." I was eating enough and was eating what I was supposed to but they don't understand that. So going out and being able to chillax and have a drink or two once in awhile, it was hard not being able to do that.

Q: Right before going on stage that first time, were you nervous at all?
A: Yes, surprisingly. I love being the center of attention. I am the youngest of two girls and growing up I just loved being the center of attention. Getting on stage is never a problem for me except this past show. I just froze up a bit, but I tried to keep my cool the best I could.

Q: Was there anything surprising about competing to you?
A: Yes definitely! I went into this a very conservative person, not knowing what to expect. I would say the spray-tan experience was pretty eye-opening. That took me by surprise. Everyone was so open and comfortable around each other. Hair and make-up was awesome, girls would hand over any make-up you needed or curl your hair in a heartbeat. I had to be willing to be comfortable with everybody, but at the same time you build friendships that you cant find off stage.

Q: Some people say they expect everyone to be catty, where you surprised that they weren't?
A: I have two friends who competed before me and they told me "you are gonna make friends for a lifetime backstage, all the girls are super nice." I had a heads up that everyone was gonna be nice, I didn't have any negative worries.

Q: You took fourth at the Upstate Classic, how happy were you with what you brought to the stage?
A: I was happy. I felt like my appearance was beyond what I thought it could be. I am very hard on myself and lack confidence sometimes, but I was very proud of the way I looked. I knew I worked hard and gave all I could. My posing was off and I feel it brought me down a great deal, but I can go back and work on that.

Q: You mention lacking confidence, but on-stage you actually looked really confidence, so was that basically a really good acting job?
A: Yes, definitely! It might be half and half. Once you see yourself the day of the show, you almost a completely difference person. Everyone ask me "let me see your abs, let me see your abs." I am like "listen, those abs you see in the pictures are only there for a couple days." You wake up that morning and are in tip top shape, it is hard not to have confidence when you see yourself at your peak, but leading up to it, I did lack confidence a great deal.

Q: You mentioned not being happy with your posing, a lot of people don't realize how hard that is, were you surprised?
A: Yes! You can practice over and over and over in front of a mirror and once you are on stage it is nothing like posing practice. Your nerves are shot. Once you are being judged your nerves go haywire, it is hard to hold poses, it is hard to hold a smile on your face for so long. It is crucial but at the same time, you never realize how hard it is to hold a pose until you get a stage.

Q: When are you competing next?
A: I have a show in four days. It is peak week for me.

Q: Not a lot of time, but from last show were do you want to be better?
A: My main focus this time is get my posing down and I went in a little lean the last one so I tried to look a little fuller this time. Being so small, I don't have the big booty and broad shoulders like the other girls did so I tried to work on that the last four weeks.

Q: Is the plan to stick with bikini or would you consider figure at some point?
A: I have been told I should do figure. I don't know if I have the body-type to build as much muscle mass as the other girls. I don't know, I am a very random person, so that might change next year.

Q: Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: I don't think there is a girl who wakes up in the morning and says "you know what? I don't wanna do fitness modeling." Any girl that does fitness, I would think that would be a huge goal for them. That would make me the happiest girl ever.

Q: When you are at the gym, do you get the stares and attention from people?
A: I do. I do my cardio in the morning and train at night. A lot of the older men that workout in the morning love to come chit chat. I find it flattering but during fasted cardio it gets kind of hard to be super nice.

Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with before, who would it be?
A: Definitely Jillian Michaels. She seems like such a hard-ass on t.v. that I would love to see if she could put me to the test.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My trainer Jeremy Mize, he has helped me so much and is a constant encouragement. My boyfriend, he has put up with two peak weeks and carb depleting and water loading and has been a saint. Also God, without God there is no way I could have done this. There is nothing I could say or do to repay God for getting me from where I was to where I am no.

Rebecca Jackson Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-4: RX Muscle/Jeff Binns

While she has always been training, what drove Rebecca Jackson to compete is different than most. A tumor was found in her neck and was told that removing it would cause things such as gaining potentially sixty pounds. That was unacceptable to Rebecca, so to prove her point she set her sights on getting on stage in a figure show. This year she made the switch to physique, including winning the overall at the N.C. State.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I grew up in sports, my father was a coach. It was always something we did. I played sports, I watched him, I played mostly with my brother, he is closer in age to me than me sister. I was always out back, always in the weight room, very interested in that. I went to college and did athletic training, was in the training room with the athletes, taping ankles. Watching the guys lift, I became fascinated at that and said "I wanna do that, why don't you see women in the weight room at the gym." Girls were always doing cardio. My dad, not that he didn't raise me like a girl, but he had the tough hand, "don't cry, dust yourself off, work to your best." It followed me through the years.

Q: What made you decide to try competing?
A: I didn't put much thought into it until 2009 when I discovered a tumor in my neck. Through a series of biopsies, I found out it was Hurthle Cell Carcinoma of the thyroid, a thyroid cancer. I am an information junkie so the first thing I did was get on the Internet and I found websites and support groups and all of this stuff. At the time I was personal training, I was the Health and Wellness Director for the YMCA. Everything I read was that I would gain sixty pounds and be miserable and be tired all the time, everything was doom and gloom. I told the doctor "you're not taking it out, this isn't gonna work, I am a personal trainer, I can't gain sixty pounds, you have to leave it in." He said that won't work, that it had to be removed. I was horrible, I did not do well when he told me that. I did more research and looking into the med's that they give you after. I don't have the thyroid anymore, so I am completely dependent on Synthroid to regulate my hormone levels. The generic from what I found, doesn't work, that the name brand of Synthroid is the only brand there is that works. I thought there was light at the end of the tunnel. Talking to some clients, they went through it with me because I was training at the time. I said "I am gonna prove a point, let's see if I can prove the biggest point ever and get on a stage in a tiny bikini and show what I did." I didn't gain sixty pounds, I am not miserable, and I got on s stage in a tiny bikini in front of a ton of people. I remember being backstage at the Contra Costa and the girls were like "aren't you nervous?" I said "no, what is there to be nervous about? I am happy I am here, this is cool for me." I didn't even care if I placed. I placed second in Masters and third in Open. I thought it was cool and fun.

Q: A lot of girls I interview say they do the first show and it becomes addicting, was that the case with you?
A: Yeah it was. For me, it was an interesting experience because they wouldn't let coaches backstage. I was back there by myself, I didn't know anybody at that time, I didn't know those girls. I sat quietly and watched. Looking at everyones physique and taking mental notes. When you look in a mirror you don't have a good concept of how you look. I thought I looked horrible and everyone said I was stupid. I didn't see what they saw. Then you see photos of you on stage and it's like "oh, wow, that looks really cool." I looked different than I had pictured in my head and said "let's see what else I can do with my body, now I wanna build." The girl who won first, her shoulders were bigger, her arms were more defined and I said "I wanna look like her". I said "I can do that, there is no reason I can't."

Q: You started with figure and then switched to physique, was there a specific reason?
A: Yeah, that was thanks to Kat (Ramirez). She came out to California for my figure show, she helped with my prep. After the Contra Costa, four months later I sent her a photo. She called me and said "If you are planning on doing Nationals in figure, you need to stop lifting and stop eating. You are too big. You need to come back down. Stop going heavy and start doing plyos and cardio, or stay on the path and build muscle and switch." She didn't tell me which way to go, it was that I need to make a decision and pick a goal for my physique. I said "let's try physique", even though I was super nervous, the posing freaked me out. Before I moved from California I was gonna do the Contra Costa in physique but I moved so it was a little while before my next one. So I sucked it up and learned the posing and switched.

Q: How hard was the posing to learn?
A: It was a little stressful. You have the mandatory poses, very different from the quarter turns. As my body changed from week to week, my coach would change it "do this, move here, put your foot here, open up a little wider." He was helping me, but it was a lot of work, there is a lot of work and time in posing to get your physique to pop out and display your best package to the judges. You have to know where you are without looking in a mirror. It is nerve-racking. All hail to those girls who do it beautifully and make it look easy.

Q: A lot of people who switch from figure to physique tell me how they had to change training and diet, but is it fair to say that in your case, switching allowed you to actually keep training how you were?
A: My training stayed for the most part the same. I was fortunate when I came here, not only to have my coach Kevin Dehaven but my training partner Joe, they hammered me and they switched it from week to week. I trained hard and heavy. All through my prep, I didn't back down near the end, my energy was up and they were still feeding me a lot of food.

Q: You took the overall at N.C. State, did that confirm to you it was the right move?
A: Yeah! I am still in shock. Everyone was like "really, how did you not know?" To me, everyone up there looked great. It was definitely cool. I always go in thinking "you never know, I am happy to get what I get." I cant explain it, still in shock and thrilled to death and thankful. I am happy I switched. I could still do figure and do well I think. The entire day was a lot of energy and great experience for me.

Q: Then you did Jr. USA and you didn't place but as I have told you, you looked great and was impressed with how you tightened up the glute and hamstring area. How happy were you with what you brought?
A: I was happy with how I looked. I thought my legs looked a lot better than at N.C. State. My upper body came down, I lost some size in my back. Not that it was bad, I looked proportionate. I was definitely tighter, there were subtle differences. For me, it wasn't what they were looking for but I did what I was told to do. I trusted my coach and his guidance. I know that I followed his directions, cardio and diet, and that was my package and I can say I didn't screw around and that is good enough for me. I did what I was told and did my thing.

Q: Were you any more nervous for a National stage?
A: The funny thing is that I didn't have time to be nervous. I almost missed my group. We had our order of events and I was back there and men's bodybuilding was going on. I was going over things sitting with my coach and he said that after men's heavyweights he was gonna look at my posing. They went on and we were backstage going over poses. We went over my sixty second routine and men's physique was next and they had 200 competitors and were before us. I was talking to somebody and looked up and thought "wait a second, that is Wendy Gerkman, she is in physique A, oh my God." So I had five minutes to get pumped up, oiled up and on stage cause they fixed the order. I got up there, and it was done before I knew it.

Q: Do you know when you want to compete next?
A: I was toying with the idea of doing nationals in November but the more I look at the pro shows and even National shows, they are looking for more size. I think maybe I will do Jr. USA's next year. That is what it is looking like. I haven't totally ruled out Nationals, but there are some areas I want to improve. My coach said "you aren't getting to big on me" but I know where there is a line and limit. When I dieted down there wasn't as much muscle in areas as I thought.

Q: Is there one area you feel you most need to improve?
A: My legs. Looking at some of those girls, I need more size and my glutes, when i diet down I tend to lose my tush. It didn't look bad on stage I don't think, but it loses some of its fullness. I will be doing butt blasters till the cows come home.

Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: Monique Jones is one. She fascinates me. I have seen her progression, she started in figure, till now. The other is Alyssa Stroud. Those two pop into my head. I bet I would have a crazy workout with Alyssa.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Obviously my coach Kevin Dehaven who is a promoter in North Carolina, Main Stage Muscle is his promotion group. I can't thank him enough. Joe Weaver who is a huge supporter and training partner and responsible for kicking my butt in the gym and yelling at me to suck it up and do cardio and stop eating peanut butter. My parents, they were a huge support at both of my show and did a lot for me. N'keigh Wheeler, she won South Carolina State bodybuilding and I wore her suit for N.C. State and Lisa Zisa who did my amazing suit for Jr. USA's. Also Adam Weidel from Silverback Krew for all my gym and workout gear.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rach Wiley Interview

Photo Credit:
Photo 1: Jerry Chavez

One could look at Rach Wiley and not expect that they were looking at a fighter. However if one looked at what she did to the face of her opponent this weekend, they would have no doubt that she is a fighter. After working as a ring card girl, Rach decided to try training herself. After suffering a setback losing a decision in her first fight, Wiley bounced back with a first round TKO this weekend. Wiley is still days away from her nineteenth birthday which means Rach Wiley is a name you are likely to hear for many many years.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started training for the sport?
A: I was a ring girl for Danger Fire Promotions here in Topeka, Kansas. I got the chance to meet a lot of coaches and fighters and got invited to a gym one day. I have been going ever since.

Q: Did you when you started training that you would want to fight?
A: No actually. I didn't have any intention to ever fight when I first started. I liked training cause it was a good workout and it was fun. Eventually I got bored just training and wanted to do something with it so I decided to fight.

Q: When you decided to fight, were your family and friends o.k. with it?
A: My mom was really against it because they spent a couple thousand dollars getting my teeth straightened out with braces and orthodontics. My mom was upset and said if I get my teeth busted out or my nose broken, I am gonna have to pay for that myself. That hasn't happened yet thankfully. My dad was cool with it, he was pretty excited.

Q: When you were walking out for that first fight, were you nervous or excited or both?
A: My adrenaline was really high. I kind of don't even remember it very well. Everything seemed like it was going a million miles an hour. It seemed like it happened and was over pretty quick even though it went the distance. It was awesome.

Q: After you lost that first fight, did you spend any time questioning yourself and whether it is something you could be good at?
A: At first I kinda questioned if I should continue but after awhile I got over being upset and told myself everyone loses at least once unless you are Ronda Rousey. I told myself it is gonna happen and got back in there and did it again.

Q: You just beat Misty Blevins by TKO in the first, how did that first MMA win feel?
A: It was crazy. After the ref said stop, I went over to my coaches and was like "oh my gosh, I did it." It was kind of hard to believe it was over. I looked at my coach and said "I'm done right?" and he said "yeah, now go get your hand raised." That wasn't my first win, I am 1-0 in kickboxing, but it was crazy, it was hard to believe it was over that fast.

Q: How important was it to get that win for you and not start your career 0-2?
A: It was pretty important to me, especially for my confidence. I work really hard in training so it was big for my confidence. It is hard to believe in yourself sometimes but it proved to myself that I don't totally suck.

Q: Did you have any specific game-plan?
A: I didn't really have a game-plan. I just told myself that whatever happens happens and I worked really hard and trained my butt off.

Q: The card also had boxing matches so you fought in a ring, did having kickboxing experience and experience in a ring give you an advantage?
A: No, I don't like fighting in a ring at all, I like it to be in a cage. I have this fear of falling out of the ring because the ropes and you can fall in between them. I had her against the ropes a couple times and she almost slipped in between two of them. I like a cage a lot better, it is more secure.

Q: Do you feel like there might be some people who don't take you serious?
A: Yeah, especially because I work at Hooters and also at Title Boxing. I feel like a lot of people are like "oh, you are a Hooters girl, you have to be pretty, you are girly, you can't get punched in the face, you will freak out." People doubt me but I had people come watch me, customers at Hooters, and if anybody had doubts, that fixed them.

Q: Do you ever feel you have to prove something to them?
A: It depends on the day. Some days it will bug me more than others, but people will think what they want and you cant pay too much attention to it. Why waste your time worrying about what other people think. If you doubt me, come watch me fight, that will fix it.

Q: What do you feel is your biggest strength?
A: That is a tough question. I don't know, I think it is pretty equal, I feel confident with everything. Maybe it's cause I just won a fight, if I just lost and you asked me, my answer might be different.

Q: Are there any fighters you like to watch and learn from?
A: I really really like Rose Namajunas, I think she is awesome, I love her attitude. I love to watch her and Pat Barry's YouTube videos. I like Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann a lot, but I really like Rose the most.

Q: Do you know when you will fight next?
A: I am fighting in less than a month here in Topeka, July 20th.

Q: As a female fighter, how excited have you been to watch the progression of Invicta?
A: It is exciting. Hopefully I can be in Invicta some day. It is awesome that there is an all-girl card out there. It proves to people that fighting is not just a guys sport. There are guys who are real skeptical, but that is cause they haven't seen Invicta yet.

Q: Five years from now, where do you see yourself in the sport?
A: I see myself as a pro. Maybe in Invicta, maybe in the UFC, who knows. But somewhere with all the big women fighters.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My Muay-Thai coach Shanon Woodward, my Judo coach Gary Gucciano, and my Jiu-Jitsu, striking, kind of everything coach Wayman Carter. Also everyone at United Martial Sciences, my team, everyone who spars with me and kicks my butt to help me get ready, thanks guys.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tecia Torres Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1,2 and 5: Invicta FC/Esther Lin
Photos 3-4: Alex Salmeron

Two of the most talked about up and coming pro fighters in the sport today are Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas, and with good reason. Both have been incredibly impressive in their young pro careers scoring impressive wins. Torres has been winning her fights by decision, but clear decisive decisions showcasing her great striking ability. They will face each other on July 13th for Invicta. There is a reason this is the fight that most are predicting for fight of the night.

Q: Your last fight in January you won a decision over Paige Van Zant, how satisfied were you with your performance?
A: I was more or less completely satisfied because I feel like I was able to dominate the entire fight. If I had to pick one thing I wasn't satisfied with it would be when she did the hip toss, I believe she was able to do it at least twice. Since then I have worked on that and other aspects of my wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu game in order to prepare for Rose.

Q: You have had several decisions in a row, have you accepted the fact that everyone is aware of your stand-up and won't stand and trade with you for very long?
A: I don't know if I have accepted it, but I have become aware that if they don't feel they can stand and trade with me they will try and tie up and take it to the ground. I feel I have been successful enough to keep ti standing long enough or if it does go to the ground, get right back up and start fighting where I am most comfortable at. It is o.k. going to decisions but I would like to change that with my next couple fights.

Q: You are always in tremendous shape, how much has that helped in going the three fight minute rounds?
A: It really helps. When I am done I feel like I can go even more. I have become aware enough to pace myself when I need to and go forward when I need to.

Q: Do you feel like especially in that third round it give you an advantage?
A: In some of my fights, yeah I feel like I have better cardio. But others, like Kaiyana Rain, she was in phenomenal shape and could have gone another round as well.

Q: You have Rose Namajunas coming up, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think we match up pretty well. We come from the same background when we were younger. I think it is gonna be the fight to watch. We made our debuts with Invicta and are what Invicta is all about, two young talented girls looking to make a name for themselves.

Q: How impressed have you been with her so far as a pro?
A: I have enjoyed watching her fight and grow. I didn't know much about her till I started fighting with Invicta and hearing about her. I looked her up and it reminded me of myself a bit. I admire her and think she is really talented. I am happy I got this fight. A win over her would put my name on the map, her as well if she were to win.

Q: You are two of the popular up and coming fighters, is this a chance for one of you to separate yourself and move up the card?
A: Exactly, I feel like whoever comes out on top July 13th will definitely put their name out there for the other girls to be ready. Whoever is the smarter person that night will come out with the win.

Q: I have seen some people say Rose will just want it on the ground and you will just want it standing, but I feel it kind of underestimates you both, do you welcome the chance at all to show you are good on the ground?
A: I think for both of us, it has been the same but opposite. Everybody knows I come from a stand-up background and not afraid to stand and trade, I haven't gotten to showcase any Jiu-Jitsu. With her, I always thought she was a striker but her last two fights she showcased beautiful Jiu-Jitsu and hasn't gotten to showcase her stand-up. I think people underestimate my Jiu-Jitsu game. I don't think the previous girls have what I have, it will be her toughest fight to date.

Q: Do you think she would be willing to stand for an extended period of time?
A: That is a question I have been contemplating in my mind. I think she will come out and try to stand with me but it will be a shock to her when she feels my power. I don't think the girls she fought before me are as powerful or as aggressive as I am. Maybe she will trade and if it doesn't go her way she will go to the ground. I would like her to stand and trade with me, it is exciting for the fans and I am willing to do that for three rounds or however long it lasts.

Q: Fans seem as excited for this fight as any other fight, why do you think that is?
A: It is a really good match-up. Janet (Martin) and Shannon (Knapp) know we are undefeated as amateur and pros. This fight was definitely gonna happen. I am happy it is happening now, I feel I have had ample time to get ready for someone like her who is talented.

Q: Is there a key to you winning this fight?
A: Yes, to go in and be calm. Sometimes I get overly aggressive. Not saying I am not gonna be aggressive, I definitely am. I need to stay calm, stand my ground, play my game, as long as I do that, I think I will come out with a win.

Q: Since going to American Top Team, how are you a better fighter?
A: All-around, I have somewhere to go. Before it was mainly at a Jiu-Jitsu game and go somewhere else for my stand-up. At ATT I have wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, everything in one spot. I have high level talent around me, especially with Jessica Aguilar and India Gomes. I finally feel like everything is coming together.

Q: You mention Jessica and India, some gyms only have one female, how much does it help to have other girls to train with?
A: A lot, we are different than men, me react different, our body is different. Jessica is my size, I get to feel the difference, then with India, she is larger, but her power and the way she moves, you can't compare it to a men. When I go in and fight it feels a lot easier.

Q: You and India are very tight, does it make it more exciting to be on a card with her?
A: Yeah, India is one of my best friends so I am really fortunate to have fought my first two Invicta fights with her. We get tot rain together and have the same goal and go there as a team.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: My prediction would be that I win unanimously. Like you said, I am a fighter who goes to decisions, so I am not gonna say I will knock her out, I am definitely not gonna say I will submit her. I think it will be a tight close fight, but I am gonna win unanimously. If I can end it early, I would like to.

Q: Any idea what you want after this or just taking it one at a time?
A: One at a time. I wanna get past Rose and look forward to what Invicta gives me. One thing about this fight is I feel like this is my first time as an underdog. Some people don't like to look on the Internet, but I do, it doesn't change my opinion about somebody. This fight she has more pressure, I am going to fight my fight and have fun and she has to live up to expectations that people have put on her since that awesome flying arm bar. It is my fight to win and there is no pressure.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I would like to thank God, my family, my friends, training partners, coaches and gym American Top Team, and my sponsors, Brawl and Maul, Dawgs Forever Forever Dawgs, Awakening Female Fighters, Babes of MMA, Slept Fightwear, 90 Day Challenge.

IFBB Pro Shannon Siemer Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-5: RX Muscle/Jeff Binns

In one years time Shannon Siemer went from fifth place at Jr. Nationals to winning her pro card at that same Junior Nationals, putting her in a class with the elite, the same elite that she herself admires. To do that in the time that she did shows a ton of hard work and dedication, that same dedication that will make her a success on the pro level as well.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I actually started lifting in high school. I have been in athletics all my life with gymnastics, cheerleading, volleyball, softball, the works. I started weightlifting in high school for those sports.

Q: How long were you training when you decided to compete and why did you decide to compete?
A: I was a competitive cheerleader at Eastern Illinois University. That is when I started taking weight training more seriously. Once I finished school I was ready to take it one step further. I had more time on my hands to do that so I pursued competing.

Q: Does the cheerleading help you with putting routines together?
A: Absolutely! Between the cheerleading and gymnastics, I had a background of being able to choreograph my routines, put my routines together, along with all the skills I have learned over the years to execute those in the routine as well.

Q: A lot of the people I interview say they do the first show and it becomes addicting, was that the case with you?
A: I don't know that it is addicting cause of the first show. I trained as a competitive gymnast from a very early age so a lot of those competitive aspects, I wouldn't say they are addicting, I would say it is comfortable, it makes me me. I like the competitiveness. It is not addicting but it catches my eye and my interest.

Q: You just won your pro card at Jr. Nationals, when you realized you were a pro, do you remember what went through your head?
A: It still hasn't sunk in. I don't know that I can see myself at that point. I still look up to a lot of those pros, so it is difficult to even see myself on that level. I still have a lot of progress to make. My first thought was "holy cow, I made it."

Q: Going into the show did you think it was a realistic possibility?
A: Definitely! I definitely trained as hard as I could, I came in leaner than I have ever been, I came in with a really solid routine. I knew I had a good shot, I just wanted to be able to follow through and execute what I had been training to do.

Q: One year ago at the same show you took fifth place, from then till now, where were you better?
A: I definitely came in a little leaner, shaped my physique up a little better, added more difficulty to my routine and also cranked up the endurance. I really tried to work on conditioning, I still have progress to make in that area.

Q: Does that pro card carry more responsibility as far as how you carry yourself in the industry?
A: Absolutely! That title itself, I represent that. I want to show myself in the best light possibility. When it comes to training and eating healthy, not that it wasn't before, but it is absolutely a lifestyle now, something I need to be able to carry out all the time, year round.

Q: Have you give any thought as to when you want to make your pro debut?
A: I have been looking at trying to train for Tampa, it will depend on how my physique comes in the next five or six weeks. I have also been looking at the Phoenix show in October, which will be more ideal for me, I would have more time to make changes I want to make for a pro stage.

Q: Is there somewhere specific you feel you need to be better for a pro stage?
A: There are so many things I want to be better at. My main focus is getting my physique on point so it is competitive with the pros on that stage already.

Q: Is there anyone you are excited to finally share a stage with now that you are a pro?
A: All of them, all of the pros. There are so many and they each have their own specific qualities and skills that they are great. I am excited to compete against all of them.

Q: For a long time it seemed some shows would have one or two girls do fitness, it seems like lately it is getting more popular, would you agree with that?
A: It did start to dwindle. I am hoping it does to continue to increase in the number of competitors. I think with some of the rule changes to what is mandatory has made and impact on some of the girls who are wanting to now try fitness and take that extra step. I would love to see it keep increasing.

Q: At the gym, do you get the states and attention from people?
A: Absolutely! I would like to lie and say no, but I get the stares. In the public gym I am really focused on what I am trying to do so I generally put of the vibe of being slightly unapproachable while I am training. I might get looks but I don't get approached too often.

Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: That is such a good question. There is so many. Obviously the top of the list has to be Adela Garcia, she is the seven time Olympia champ. I would love to train with a lot of the pros, Tanji Johnson, Oksana Grishina. When it comes to lifting stuff, who wouldn't wanna lift with Arnold Schwarzenegger? I would love to do that, that would be great.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I would love to plug our own studio, Siemer Works Studio and my husband Ben Siemer for all the training. He and I as a team, we have learned things by trial and error and try and set our our own path. Our cross-fit crew that has been there supporting me, there encouragement is overwhelming. Get Fit Family Fitness for all their support as well, they are fantastic. Friends and family for getting me where I am today, without their support it would be very difficult to be where I am.

Friday, June 21, 2013

IFBB Pro Nicole Berg Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1 and 5: Adam Fuller Photography
Photos 2-4: RX Muscle/

One of the interviews I have most wanted for some is Nicole Berg. She had just won her pro card in bodybuilding as I was getting into the sport, so she was one of the people I first paid attention to and became a fan of. Before I even really understood what symmetry really was, I remember thinking how each of her body parts were equally impressive, none stood out because none was better than another. Nicole recently returned to the stage at the Mile High Pro, this time in physique, taking a very impressive 5th place in a tough class of competitors. I was happy to finally get this interview. Sometimes you meet or talk to people you admire and they don't live up to expectations, Nicole far exceeded my expectations, making this interview that much more special to me.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I have always been an athlete, ever since I was a kid. I was a three sport athlete in high school. I have always played competitive team sports and really enjoyed it. After my first year of college there was nothing competitive left for me. I started playing city league softball and it wasn't that competitive. I was inviting something more difficult into my life. I saw a couple gals who were training partners in the local gym. I had no idea what I was doing in the gym, no idea about training splits or anything. I saw these gals and was like "wow, that is really impressive." One was a heavyweight and one was a middleweight. I found out they were doing them Emerald Cup and watched them change in the course of three weeks drastically. I went and watched the show and said I wanted to see if I could do that. Also some trainers at a neighboring gym said I had potential to be a bodybuilder. One of the gals offered to help me and took me under her wing. That journey has led me to where I am today. Just getting started and having someone give me that knowledge in my diet and help me with posing, I just needed that guidance. I never thought I would be able to step on stage, it just took someone saying "yes you can", someone to believe in me.

Q: When you started to add real size did any family or friends react negative?
A: Not really. Most of them were more impressed and inspired by it. There was concern, the worrying mother, but she saw me and understood it better.

Q: A lot of people I interview say they do the first show and it becomes almost addicting to them, was that the case with you?
A: No, competing is not addicting at all. I do it because I choose to do it, not because I feel like I have to do it. It is not something I need to do for attention or seek public approval or approval of peers with similar interests. it is something I enjoy and if I have the money to do it, then I go out and do it. It's not something I can't walk away from. I will never give up the gym but the competition isn't something that drives me. I am competitive more against myself than I am other women in the sport.

Q: Nationals in 2009 you won your pro card, when you realized you were a pro, do you remember what went through your head?
A: I actually couldn't believe it. I had it in my head that I was trying to come up with a game-plan for the next season. When you are posing next to competitors you are not checking them out as well. I am what you call a sleeper, when I stand there I don't look like much till I start posing and then the goodies start to pop out and people are like 'where did that come from?" That is how the gal was who was in first call-out with me. They called us out and asked us to step to the side of the stage but not go anywhere. I thought they were gonna size us up again but they didn't. We stood there looking at each other and I thought "she must be a sleeper like me." She didn't look like she had a lot of size on me. My mom showed me pictures after pre-judge of us standing side by side and I went "oh know, I am in trouble, she looks amazing. If I get beat by her, then congratulations, she deserves it." So I was already mentally prepared for second place and giving it one more year. As we stood up there holding hands, I was shocked when they called her for runner-up. I think it was more disbelief than overwhelming joy.

Q: Was the pro card something important to you or more if it happens it happens?
A: I went it to Nationals to get a pro card. I cant say that about the other two National shows I did. I think it was more goal setting. I wanted top ten at my first National show and I made top five and was happy with that. It was baby steps, I realized I had to pay my dues. After the 2005 season I took a very long break. When I went into 2009 I was like "I am gonna give this one last shot." I went in and pretty much put my guts on the line for it, if it was gonna happen it was gonna happen this year. I don't think until I hit the National level that it was something truly important. Each show was a different goal.

Q: In June you did Mile High Pro and took fifth. Why did you decide to do physique?
A: To be perfectly honest, it isn't gonna be real P.C., is dying out. Even if it was here to stay, there is no place in pro bodybuilding for a light heavyweight. There is not way someone can stand next to Iris Kyle or Yaxeni (Oriquen) or Alina (Popa) and be twenty pounds lighter and get a legit comparison. These are some amazing athletes, they have the physiques for pro bodybuilding. There is nothing I could possibly do and maintain my femininity to put on twenty pounds on my frame. It was either conform and go with the flow or retire.

Q: Doing physique, where there any major changes diet, training or prep wise?
A: Training changed drastically. This was more cardio and diet for me. I didn't realize I had maintained so much muscle. I thought with the long break that maybe I had lost some size. Prep was based on cardio and diet.

Q: How happy were you with what you brought to the stage?
A: I was pretty happy. This was my first prep I did on my own without a coach. So to do my first pro show and make top five with it all on my shoulders, I am proud and no one can take that away from me. I had good friends I trusted who I would show pictures and keep an eye on me and bounce stuff off of, but I didn't have a coach to keep an eye on me. I was pretty happy.

Q: I assume fifth place, going in if you were told you would get fifth, you would be happy?
A: Yeah, absolutely!

Q: Do you know when you are competing next?
A: I am doing the Tampa Pro in August.

Q: It isn't a whole lot of time, but is there anywhere specific you want to be better?
A: Yeah, I hope to bring my waist in a little more or at least give the illusion of a smaller waist. Come in a little tighter.

Q: When you are at the gym, do you get the stares or attention from people?
A: At the gym I am currently at I do. I moved back home and drive a half hour to the gym. I am in a rural area. Mostly from the men.

Q: Is it easy to block out?
A: For me, yeah. I just put my headphones on. It makes me laugh. The nice guys come up and ask a question but are good about letting me do my lifting and come say hi or ask a question during cardio. They are not the meat-heads in the corner. They are the guys who wanna improve their golf game, local business guys. The meat-heads in the corner, I don't know if they are threatened or what. Girls at the gym say "so and so said this or that" or "so and so asked if you are single." I say "I don't even know who that is, why don't they come say hi and talk to me?" and they say that he is intimidated. I tell them "to bad, I am friendly, he could have at least made a new friend out of it."

Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: Mimi Jabalee and Alina Popa

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Max Muscle Salem, they just picked me up to sponsor me for Tampa. My family and friends who have supported me this past year. A handful of people and they know who they are.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Erika Guerra Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Hot Shotz Photography
Photo 2: Spartan Race
Photos 3-5: RX Muscle/Jeff Binns

I have called Erika Guerra "The Natural". I call her that because I feel she is just that, a natural. She was made for this sport. At just twenty-one years of age she won the overall at her first ever show, The Natural Eastern USA's. She then took seventh at the Atlantic States. Clearly not the placing she hoped for, but very good for doing a show that size in your second show. Erika is going to be a very big name in the fitness industry one day.The next step in that progression will be when she steps on the stage again at North Americans.

Q: Your first show, the Natural Eastern USA's, you won the Overall. When you do that in your first show, is it hard not to get a big head?
A: I guess you could say so. Then I went into my second show and it was a letdown almost. All the expectation and you go from that high to that down.

Q: After winning and going to a bigger show, did you know you would still have to make improvements?
A: Definitely! I wanted to make a ton of improvements. I wanted to get my legs leaner and my back wider.

Q: You did the Atlantic States, how confident were you going in?
A: I was pretty confident until I got there. I wasn't expecting such a huge show, my first one was a lot smaller. I got there and it was overwhelming. My confidence wasn't as high as it was for my first show.

Q: For such a big show, besides the size of it, were there any other differences you were not expecting?
A: I think it went as expected. The only thing was the size of it, how many competitors that were there.

Q: Did that many competitors make it intimidating?
A: It was a little intimidating. There is more competition you are up against. I dealt with it fine.

Q: How did you feel about what you brought to the stage?
A: I definitely felt like I made improvements, I felt like I was more muscular. My diet was switched a little bit. It didn't come out how I wanted it to. I wasn't as cut as my first show. In the future I will go back to my original plan.

Q: You took seventh, which is good for a show that size in your second show, but was it hard for you not to be disappointed?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. I go into everything I do giving a hundred percent. I go to win. I expect a lot from myself so it was definitely disappointing.

Q: Did you get right back in the gym or take a few days to be upset?
A: I was back in on Monday. I was excited to go back, I couldn't wait to change my routine a little bit.

Q: When are you competing next?
A: End of August at North Americans.

Q: Were do you want to be better from Atlantic States to North Americans?
A: I definitely think my back still needs to be wider and thicker. Legs, still need to work on legs, they are not where I want them to be. I wanna get my shoulders bigger. Also my posing, I wanna practice my posing more.

Q: You said you are going back to how you prepped the first time, what was different about it?
A: My first show, the day before I carb depleted and had carbs the morning of. This show I carb loaded three days before and the morning of. I think it was too much and I came out not as cut. I did a full week water depletion and I think it made me hold more water.

Q: North Americans is a big show, do you expect to be any more nervous?
A: I think I am passed being nervous. I am excited to show my improvements and hard work. There is always that sense of nervousness when you get to the show but I am ready for it.

Q: I have said you will be a pro one day, but do you have some time-frame where you feel you need your pro card by?
A: I think when I first started and won my first show I felt I had to be a pro as soon as possible. Now I don't have a time limit. I am just enjoying the whole journey and don't have a set time where I need to be a pro.

Q: But the pro card is something important to you correct?
A: Yes!

Q: Is there something specific as to why?
A: The sense of accomplishment. I feel I have wanted it so long and worked so hard to get to that level. It shows my hard work and passion and dedication for the sport.

Q: We have talked before and you mention adding more muscle, is physique still a possibility for you down the line?
A: Yeah definitely. I love the physique look. I think if I can pack on some more muscle I can go into it.

Q: Someone remarked to me just today about your abs, so I have to ask what you do for abs?
A: I actually don't really train abs. People think I do a lot, but I do one ab exercise after my weight training. A lot of leg raises, planks, those are the most common ones I do. I just started doing decline bench crushes with a twenty-five pound plate. I added that and feel it helped with the thickness in my abs. Nothing crazy.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: All my friends and family that support me. Supporting me and being there and understand it is my lifestyle and what I love to do.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cassie Robb Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-2: Invicta FC/Esther Lin
Photo 3: Jerry Chavez
Photo 4: Crime Scene Fotography
Photo 5: Real Time Moments

Cassie Robb is coming off a loss in her pro debut against Laura Sanko. Robb won the first round before losing in the second. However even in defeat Robb showed great promise and potential. She returns to the Invicta cage July 13th to take on Livia Von Plettenberg in a fight that while the opening fight, could be one of the most exciting fights.

Q: Your last fight you lost to Laura Sanko. You won the first round before losing in the second, looking back, anything you wish you had done differently?
A: I wish I would have been more aggressive in the second round. I knew I was winning and I think I let it get to my head. Part of it is I just lost what I was doing. She got the takedown and landed on top and I was like "Oh my God, how did that happen." I tried to defend the best way that I could. I knew giving her my back would be risky, I would rather get choked out than ground and pounded. I took the risk and it didn't work out. I will be smarter in my next fight and think about what I am doing.

Q: With it being your pro debut, could excitement or nerves played a part in that second round?
A: Definitely! I never had the cameras in my face or any of the publicity and marking. I had a little pressure on me and I kinda lost it. I don't think it will happen again, I am to focused and ready for my first win in Invicta.

Q: You are fighting Livia Von Plettenberg coming up, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think it is a great match-up. It will be one of my toughest fights. She lasted all three rounds with Joanne Calderwood and JoJo is a tough girl. I think it is gonna be tough and hard to finish her but I will do my best to do so. I will be ten times better and really showcase, I am hungry for a win.

Q: Everyone knows the recent drama you were caught up in so I won't go over it, but has it affected camp at all or the reverse, has camp helped you block it out and put it behind you?
A: Yeah, I really just put it behind me. It got to a point where I didn't wanna hear about it anymore. I kept getting things posted to my Twitter and Facebook and he kept messaging and apologizing to me. It was too much. I am trying to focus on my fight, that is all I am thinking about. I have no use for drama, my mind is on winning and that is it.

Q: When I interviewed her she said she expects you to strictly take it down. Do you feel people under-estimate your stand-up?
A: I totally think that. I am known for my ground game, all my wins are submissions, but it doesn't mean I am not good at other things. If I feel I am in danger then I will take it down, but I have been working my stand-up like no other. People will have to wait and see what is gonna happen. Maybe I will take it to the ground, maybe I will stand and bang.

Q: If it does stay up for an extended period, you are confident you can hang with her?
A: Definitely! The thing is, maybe I would be worried about finishing her standing. JoJo is a really tough opponent and she went all three rounds with her. It will be tough to finish each other. I think that is what will make it such a good fight. This could possibly go all three rounds to.

Q: Seeing that Joanne couldn't finish her, if you were to finish her, how big of a statement would that be?
A: I think it would be a huge one. It would definitely get people to stop under-estimating me. I was the underdog in my first fight, especially against a girl in her hometown, no one expected anything of me. I kind of opened there eyes that I deserve to be there. Now I am really gonna show them.

Q: She is at Team Quest, known for their wrestling so you have to assume her wrestling is getting better, but if it goes down can she hang with you?
A: I think she might be able to hang with me but I don't think she has a chance to submit me. I pride myself on my submission defense. Aside from Laura, she was really squirmy and sneaky. I usually don't have so much trouble getting out, especially rear naked chokes. Passing guard to, every time I tried to get my leg over hers, her leg was underneath. I don't think Livia will have that on the ground. Laura was a pretty good wrestler to.

Q: Is there a key to you winning this fight?
A: I don't really think there is. I like to keep my options open. I have a variety of ways I could finish her. It might end up on the ground a everyone expects but it will not come that quick. I am not gonna have it straight on my mind. I wanna stand and put on a show for everyone to see. There isn't really a strategy, you get hit once and that whole game-plan can be ruined.

Q: you are the first fight, do you like to get it done early like that?
A: Yeah, I like to fight early and watch the rest of the show, especially with Invicta, there are so many action-packed fights that would be a bummer to miss. I have never fought that early for other promotions. It is a nice switch-up. Sometimes waiting in the back made me more nervous and think "when am I up? How many more fights?" There is a little pressure to start the show out but I didn't have a problem last time, I can live up to it again.

Q: With so many top fighters on one show, do you go in with a desire to not only win but steal the show and be the fight everyone is talking about?
A: Totally! I would love that. Who knows what it will take to get to that point, but I know I will do something special. I don't know if it is this one or the next one, but I will be one of those girls for sure. Maybe I will get in there and do a ten second flying triangle and then I will have the fastest submission.

Q: She has been very respectful, is that something you appreciate?
A: Definitely! I don't think it needs to be any real beef. Yeah, you are getting in there to fistfight, but I have the utmost respect for any girl gets in there and has the lady-balls to do it. It is really scary. Anyone who says they are no scared is lying. It is nerve-racking and an adrenaline rush, especially victory, that is the best part, makes it all worth it. I appreciate she has been respectful, no trash talking, I feel I have been the same way. it is respect for the girls who get in there and do what you do.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: Not really. It is hard to have a game-plan cause it can all switch up. Something goes different and the whole plan is messed up. Don't expect me to take it right to the ground. I am gonna stand with her and put on a show for everybody and show I am not just a wrestler. If it does come down to it, I will take her down and I will choke her out, I will come out with my hand raised.

Q: Any idea what you want after this or just one at a time?
A: One at a time. Some day I would like to fight for a title for Invicta, but I don't think I am ready for Michelle Waterson just yet.

Q: Your girlfriend Stephanie Skinner also fights, you gets more nervous when the other fights, you or her?
A: I think we are pretty even. It is hard to see someone you care about get hit and kicked and choked. She would probably say me and I would say her. Honestly, it is about the same.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My fiance Stephanie Skinner, my coaches Benjamin Schissler and Diana Rael, my team Serial Boxe Killers, my sponsors, Inksmith Tattoo, Jack-n-Grill, Straight Bully, Mass Destruction MMA and L.A. Boxing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Maura Gay Delaware Open Prep Journal

Blog 1: 8 weeks out

Hey everybody! My name is Maura, and I’m a figure competitor from Pennsylvania. I’m currently 8 weeks out from the NPC Delaware Open, which will be held on August 10th. This is a hometown show for me, so I’m super excited to hopefully have my friends and family in attendance.

This past week I started carb cycling. I’ve found in the past that my body really responds well to carb cycling, and I felt that it was time to reincorporate it into my nutrition plan. Right now I’m doing four low days, two moderate days, and one refeed per week, scheduled according to what muscle groups I’m training on that particular day. My nutrition follows the principles of the Intermittent Feast, which is an approach made popular by CPT Nate Miyaki. My meals during the day consist of protein and fat, with most of my carbs coming in at night.

My weight training stays heavy pretty much all the way through my prep. I have a little bit of powerlifter in me that has to be satisfied every time I lift. I prefer to lift heavier for fewer reps. This week just so happens to be a max effort week, so I’m a very happy camper. I weight train five days per week, one muscle group per day. I train very early in the morning due to my job (well before the sun comes up), and I try to keep my workouts to under an hour.

As far as cardio goes, I tend to stay far, far away from anything remotely steady-state, and very rarely go over 20 minutes. I love doing strongman work for conditioning, but now that I’m home for the summer, I don’t have access to the prowler, tires, farmer’s carry bars, and battling ropes at my university’s gym. I do, however, have access to a sled, which is seriously awesome. Aside from the sled, I like to go to the track on the weekends for sprints and stadium stairs, or I’ll go to “The Wall,” which is a relatively short hill with a 26.1% grade. At this point in my prep, I’m doing cardio two days per week, 10-20 minutes per session.

So that’s a little overview on me and my training and nutrition. I’ll be keeping you updated with at least weekly blogs as I come up on my show!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lauren Taylor Interview

Photo Credits
Photo 1: Invicta FC/Esther Lin
Photos 3-5: Sherdog/Dave Mandel

In April Lauren Taylor came in as a late replacement to face Kaitlin Young for Invicta. Many people overlooked Taylor and thought Young would make short work of her. Taylor proved that was a mistake winning a decision over Young. Now Taylor returns to the Invicta cage on July 13th to take on Sarah D'Alelio in a fight that Taylor says has Fight of the Night written all over it. Confident yet also very humble, Taylor has all the attributes to quickly become a fan favorite.

Q: Your last fight in April, you won a decision over Kaitlin Young. Kaitlin was the biggest name opponent you had fought and it was Invicta, were there any nerves going into that fight?
A: Of course, there is nerves going into any fight. Lately I have changed my view on how I view fighting and it helps me calm my nerves. I am just in there to put on a good show and do my best and be the best fighter I can be. When I look at it like that, it is not all about winning and losing. It is about being offensive and showing off all the new skills I have learned and playing a chess match with my opponent and trying to show the world the best fighter that I can possibly show them. When I look at it like that, fighting becomes really fun for me. If I go in thinking it is a do or die situation, it builds up a lot of nervousness and I can't focus on what I am supposed to be doing.

Q: You came in as a late replacement and most people not familiar with you were thinking it was an easy win for Kaitlin. Did you feel overlooked?
A: Maybe, but I would have overlooked me. It's nothing to be bitter about. It was nice to go to a fight as such a heavy underdog.It was a cool experience. I don't mind being the underdog at all. It takes a lot of pressure off. I like short fight camps. Less time to stress, less time for injury or illness. The downfalls are that maybe your cardio won't be in order or you don't have time to train for that one person, but for this fight with Kaitlin my cardio was already good.

Q: What does it mean to you that Invicta brought you back so quick?
A: I signed a contract last October, a three fight deal. It has just taken things lining up for me to get out there and be able to fight for them. It wasn't a big shock for me although it might be to the rest of the world. The truth is, I train really hard and right now fighting is all I am doing. It is not a part-time job, it is what I am devoting my life to and I like to throw myself into it as much as I can.

Q: You have Sarah D'Alelio coming up, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think it is interesting. I have never fought anyone like her. Never fought anyone who is as good on the ground as she is. She is a pretty decent wrestler, it will be cool. It is easy to look good on the ground when you fight a boxer with no ground experience like I did with Jennifer Scott. She was pretty lost. Kaitlin has been around for a long time but she is known for her stand-up. Before that, I had fought all boxers, not by choice, it is just how it worked out. It will be interesting to fight someone with a good ground and wrestling game. her stand-up has come a long way. I train with all guys and they are always stronger than me, bigger than me, and a lot of times a higher rank in Jiu-Jitsu and it is hard for me to see progress till I fight. Now I can see where I stand among women in my weight class. Till the fight it is hard to tell if I have made any progress.

Q: Sarah and Kaitlin are polar opposites, how does that change how you train?
A: It will change some of the things I work on. For any fight I would work on getting out of a crappy position but with Sarah, she likes top half guard and side control. I don't wanna get caught there. Kaitlin liked to throw kicks so we worked on checking it and throwing a right hand. Specific stuff like that. I still take as many Jiu-Jitsu classes as I can, I still spar, I still do strength and conditioning.

Q: She will wanna take it down, are you confident you can hang with her down there?
A: I would hope so. It is hard to say, we will see in the fight. One thing I know about me is there is no quit in me. She can get me In a crappy position and I am not gonna stop fighting and look for a way to hurt her. No matter where the fight goes I am looking to whoop your ass. I am not too worried about it going to the ground. Even if it does, I am gonna make it miserable for her. She might submit me, she might get on top and ground and pound me, but it won't be quick and easy and she is not gonna enjoy getting there. If I can make her pay enough in that transition then she won't do it.

Q: In the Kaitlin fight, when it did go down, you were really good at getting the dominant position. With Sarah I expect you have a strength advantage, if it does go down, will that help you get those dominant positions?
A: Oh sure, I'll take whatever I can get. I think you're right, I think technically she is a little bit better, trickier on the ground than I can be but I don't think she will be faster or stronger and that helps in MMA. Strength and speed really count for a lot when you are slippery and sweaty as opposed to in a Gi or when someone is dry. It is a game changer, a lot harder to get submissions. You have to get submissions in transitions, in the scramble and I am pretty good in the scramble. Strength will play a big role in who comes out on top.

Q: Even if you are in a clinch can that strength help you keep it up?
A: I suppose it could. Yeah!! She is a good wrestler, I am not bad myself, I'm not an idiot when it comes to wrestling. Kaitlin took me down and it wasn't the most pleasant thing I ever experienced. Sarah did an interview and said she wanted to stand and bang with me, which is fine. For this fight, I honestly don't care where it goes, you wanna stand and bang then I am gonna make you pay, you take it to the ground, I am gonna make you pay, you wanna clinch on the fence, I am gonna make you pay. Even if I come out on the losing end, it won't be easy for her and won't be painless. Either way, the fans will appreciate that. That is what fans wanna see, they don't wanna see a mismatch, they wanna see a fight, they wanna see blood and scrambles and heart, that is what I bring to the table, I bring all this stuff the fans wanna see and I am gonna give them a good show.

Q: In regards to her saying she wants to stand and bang, do you believe that or do you think she is trying to just throw you off?
A: That's a good question. I don't know. I came across it and listened and was like "well, gotta take it with a grain of salt." Who cares? All my TKO's have come on the ground, so in my mind I'm like "why would you wanna go the ground? That's where I always win. If you think you are better on the ground, and think you can hold me down and TKO or are slick enough to get a submission on me, you are taking a pretty big chance there." The other half is, if you wanna stand and bang with me, guess what? You are still gonna get TKO'd. I don't know what she is thinking. This is gonna sound bitchy and I don't mean it to, but I don't really care what she is thinking, it matters very little to me. She can take it wherever she wants and I am gonna make her pay.

Q: If it does stay up, can she hang with you for an extended period?
A: That's a good question. I think her stand-up is a little different than mine. The last eight weeks I have made a lot of progress and am excited to show people. I hope it does stay standing for a couple minutes at least. She likes to lead with an uppercut and has a different style. We will see. Styles make fights.

Q: Is there a specific key to you winning?
A: Hurt her really badly. Honestly, that is the key. The chances of me submitting her are slim to none. I have a general game-plan. My coaches and I will sit down and review tape and they tell me what to do. They have a good game-plan and I carry it out. Whatever they say, I will do.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I predict I am gonna win. it is gonna be a great fight. A lot of people are looking at Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres for Fight of the Night, and they are both talented and it will be a good fight, but Sarah and me have Fight of the Night written all over it. When you get to good wrestlers, usually they stand and bang. Everyone wants to see that. If it goes down, we are both scrappy and skilled, two women who know how to go at it. I think the fans win with this one.

Q: What would back to back wins over Kaitlin Young and Sarah D'Alelio say about Lauren Taylor?
A: I think it would say more about my team really. I have a great team behind me and pushing me. I have awesome coaches, they have never steered me wrong. I have worked really hard. I have a great work ethic. I work super duper hard. I think that is what it would say. Once you are in the top ten, they can lose on any given day. I beat Kaitlin, but if we fight ten times, it doesn't mean I am gonna beat her ten times, it doesn't even mean I am better, it just means it was my night. She would come out on top some times and I would some times. It is hard to say someone is better because styles make fights. You have to consider all the things, did they have a good weight cut, did they have a family emergency, did they get sick, was a coach sick, did they have to change something, all these factors that go into it that don't reflect how good a fighter is.

Q: Any idea what you want after this, or just taking it one at a time?
A: One at a time. I would like a break. I am pretty sure Invicta will have a card in October, I haven't talked to Janet Martin or my manager or anything. I have been basically in fight camp all year. My camp is in Houston and my partner is in Florida and I miss him. My son is coming to visit after this fight. I wanna take time off and hang with my family before I get back to the grind again. I don't know what Invicta has in mind, especially with the 135'ers who have gone to UFC, I don't know what that means as far as the 135'ers with Invicta.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I want to thank Gracie Barra Katy, my coaches, Pat Applegate and Alex Cisne especially, and Aaron Pena. Also my training partners, especially Skylar McMellian, and the Mango family for making me feel so welcome, they've been great to me from day one. Thanks to American KnockOut Wear for being an awesome sponsor, they're the best, go buy a shirt, Klench Mouthguards and to my boyfriend Joe, I love ya babe. My manager Paul Stockler, he's been awesome, he is the best.