Friday, June 14, 2013

Gina Begley and Emily Bartee Invicta Preview

With us now being just a month away from Invicta's next card, I wanted to sit down with two people I really admire, the hosts of the popular Pro WMMA Now show, Gina Begley and Emily Bartee to break down the card and get their thoughts on some of the match-ups.

Q: First, I want to talk about your show, Pro WMMA Now. What has been the best and worst parts of hosting the show so far?
GB: I think the best part is I get to talk to these females that I am just a huge fan-girl of. We get to talk to Jessica Eye, Barb Honchak, so many people that I look up to as a fighter and ask them questions that I really want to know.
EB: Being the nerd that I am, learning about them as a person, how they are and how their lives play into what they want to do. Sometimes it is hard when you have a job, you have school and then you try and fit training in. You talk to all these women who are professional athletes and that is how they live, they balance their jobs, their work, their training, I like hearing about that, it is motivational.

Q: Is their a worst part?
GB: For me the worst part has been when we come across the negative stories. Not because I didn't wanna do it, but because it existed. I am happy we can play a part in bringing information out but it is a bummer to know it was going on and happening to these females, the whole Brett Atchley thing. That has been the worst part.
EB: I agree completely. Also sometimes, the fans, people in the chat-room are not helpful as far as chat room conversations. Going back to what Gina said, you like when you can talk about happy things, but as soon as something gets negative, it brings you down. You are talking about something you love and it isn't always pleasant.

Q: Have you had a favorite guest?
GB:Rose Namajunas has been one of my favorite guests. She was really funny and easy to carry on a conversation with. I felt like I was just talking to someone on the phone.
EB: I would say when Gina talked to Tecia Torres on her previous show. Hearing her story and background. Like Rose, she is an excellent interview.

Q: Gina, what is the best thing about working with Emily?
GB: Emily is very smart and well organized. If she doesn't know something she will go and look in the right places to find the information that she needs. I can always count on her to be prepared. I am never worried that she will say or do something that will cause a problem. She is one of the best co-hosts I could ask for.

Q: Emily what is the best thing about working with Gina?
EB: She will point me in the right direction and help me. She is extremely patient. When she asked me to host the show I was afraid she wouldn't be patient cause I didn't know that much. Every girl we have on Gina might know some background on them but I would know their names and that is it and she has been extremely patient with me.

Q: Invicta is coming up and you mentioned the recent drama of late, how big a role can Invicta play in helping everyone move past the drama?
GB: When it was necessary Shannon Knapp did what she needed to do, she went to a public forum and let the women know "this is how it is and if you have a problem you can come to me." Once her athletes knew that, I don't think there is a problem anymore. That is the best thing about Invicta, if there is a problem they work it out and solve it and now we move forward.
EB: Invicta is setting what is o.k and what is not. There is so much spotlight on women's MMA right now and Invicta is setting a good spotlight, a good aspect of women's MMA. They are overcoming things like what was happening with Eric Holden and Brett Atchley.Invicta's biggest role is bringing the right type of spotlight to the fighters.

Q: Going back to the first Invicta, did you imagine it would last this long or was there any thought it was some niche thing that wouldn't survive?
GB: I think Invicta has found a need and they are filling it very well. They are one of the top promotions and I think they will be around for quite a while. I don't think it is just a niche that they are filling and if it is, it is a niche that needs filling for a long period of time. I don't think a lot of people were sure at first but with the fights they put together and they shows they work out, I think people are impressed with the level of talent and where they are bringing it from. They are bringing it from all over the world and I don't think people expected that. As long as they continue to do that, I think they will do just fine. Especially holding four shows a year, I am not sure how they would do on a monthly basis. Shannon Knapp and Janet martin are smart and know what it takes to make this a long-term thing.
EB: I kinda did and kinda didn't. When the first Invicta came out, that was when I began training. You hear all these things about how women's MMA is gonna come up. Women's basketball came up and died down, women's baseball came up and died down. I kinda thought women's MMA would do the same thing. But with how professional Invicta is, I never imagined it would keep going this strong. With the card coming up, it has athletes from all over the world. I never would have foreseen that happening.

Q: The Main event is Cyborg and Marloes Coenen. It is a rematch, Cyborg won the first one, Gina what does Marloes have to do to get a different outcome?
A: I think she has to be stronger. Marloes has fought Liz Carmouche and Sarah Kaufman, she had a battle with Liz. I don't think either of them come with the tenacity that Cyborg does. I see the fight going very similar unless she is prepared to pull out a submission before it gets that far but I can't really see it going any differently. Cyborg comes out like an animal and I love it, I love to watch her fight.

Q: Emily, with the baggage Cyborg has, the failed steroid test and things, is it good or bad to have her as a champion and a face of a company?
EB: I think it would be more competitive in a way. Yes she failed a drug test and is clean again, but she still has the benefit of having trained on steroids. I feel now that she is cleaning up and getting good fights, it might be o.k. and makes it more competitive for the other females who don't like her to get her out of that title fight.

Q: Another fight is Ayaka Hamasaki vs Claudia Gadelha. It is two undefeated fighters yet no one seems to be talking about this fight, do you think it is due to people being unfamiliar with them?
GB: I think so. I am not familiar with them myself. I am not familiar with a lot of the Japanese fighters or their careers. There are so many from Brazil and the U.S., it is hard to keep up with so many.
EB: I think it is part unfamiliarity and part the familiarity with the others fighters on the card. Invicta will have an excellent show, we know that, but if you have a full card of people that are the majority people you didn't know, I feel people would try and know more, but with this card there are so many names that people already know, Leslie Smith, Jessica Penne, Julia Budd, Joanne Calderwood, Bec Hyatt, people that everyone already know.

Q: Gina, you have fought, they announced Sarah Schneider as Joanne Calderwood's opponent and many have said she isn't at the level of Joanne, if you were in her shoes would it upset you or would you be able to block it out?
GB: On the amateur level I have been in her shoes. When I fought Shannon Culpepper. From that perspective the best thing to do is say "that's o.k., I am still gonna train and do what I need to do and be prepared." If you lose, there wasn't an expectation, but if you win it is that much better. Look at it as a win/win situation. I think it can be a really good thing for her.

Q: On the flip side could it be hard for Joanne to not look past her?
GB: I think Joanne is a professional. She just needs to fight her fight. She is gonna prepare and when the fight is over she is gonna move on.

Q: One I look forward to is Sarah D'Alelio and Lauren Taylor. No one gave Lauren a shot against Kaitlin Young and she beat her. Sarah is on a roll to, who is this fight more important for?
GB: Lauren has six fights, didn't have much of an amateur career. It was shocker with Kaitlin's experience and she went out and won decisively. A win for her will boost her career even more. Sarah is battle tested, she is tough. It wouldn't be devastating for her to lose to Lauren Taylor.
EB: I feel like it is more important for Lauren. She is undefeated. People didn't think she would come out like she did and if she keeps it up it will elevate her in everyones mind. Her opponent has three losses, one more won't kill her. But carrying an undefeated record, you wanna be like Claudia and stay undefeated, keep on climbing.

Q: Another one is Leslie Smith and Jennifer Maia. Jennifer coming off a big win over Zoila Gurgel and everyone knows what Leslie has done. Leslie has been a bit of a talker, is that good, bad or neither for helping her get these big fights?
EB: I feel it is good, it causes drama and fans love drama. Like the Bec Hyatt and Jasminka Cive fight. The public perception and seeing it, the drama, it made Bec Hyatt more well known. It can do the same for Leslie, put her in the spotlight more. It makes people recognize her and she backs it up in the cage.

Q: Gina, Jennifer took Zoila's striking away from her, Leslie has had stand-up wars, does Jennifer have to fight that same way against Leslie?
GB: it is a good possibility. Shut down her striking and work her game. But that is true in any match. The fighter who does their game-plan can dominate a fight. She will come prepared. I think ti would be a good game-plan, but I don't know how great it would be to go to the ground with her either.

Q: Julia Budd is fighting Ediane Gomes, Gina is this Ediane's biggest test so far?
GB: Absolutely! Julia Budd is 10-1 or 11-1 in Muay Thai, an extensive kickboxing career and has done well in MMA. She is very talented and very strong and good at what she does. It will be a good fight and great test for Ediane.

Q: Should the winner get the next title shot?
GB: I think it is a good title contention fight for the winner to take on the winner of Cyborg and Marloes. Julia has been building herself up, and the winner does very much deserve the title shot.
EB: Gina talked about Julia building herself up, then you have Ediane who had the title shot but wasn't able to fight. Ediane will have drive to get what she feels she should have had and Julia will have that drive as well. Placing a title shot on this fight will make it even better.

Q: Bec Hyatt is fighting Mizuki Inoue. Bec has become very popular very fast, what do you attribute that to?
GB: She speaks her mind. On social media she is very logical. People appreciate her honesty. She is very even keeled. She is very involved with fans and people like to feel like they have a connection with a fighter. Her fans appreciate that they know who Bec Hyatt is.
EB: Her fan exposure. She has had two fights with Invicta. The first was on short notice and she lasted the entire fight. The next fight had a lot of drama with it and she was an animal in the cage. Fans want to know her and also she is foreign, from Australia and that makes it more interesting for fans.

Q: Everyone is excited about Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres, why are people so excited for this fight?
GB: They are both entertaining. Tecia is high energy. She is undefeated, not just in MMA, but also kickboxing. She has never experienced a loss. Rose is high energy herself, she puts on a show. The flying arm bar was amazing. Someone will have to take a loss a people are dying to know who it will be and how it will happen.
EB: They pull out things that are unexpected. It is hard to predict this fight, you never know what they will do an that adds an element of interest. You have past performances, Rose's arm bar and Tecia's really good last two fights. People like to be entertained and know they can follow these two for a long time.

Q: Gina, what does Rose have to do to win?
GB: Rose is aggressive, she goes after it and is not fearful. She needs to be herself and do what Rose Namajunas does. I think she will be fine. Tecia has her stand-up and is good with her footwork. Rose should take it wherever it leads her. With her wrestling, it may be in her favor to look for a submission.

Q: Emily, what does Tecia have to do?
EB: Having watched Rose in her last fight, Tecia needs to not let it go to decision. All her pro fights were a decision. It will be putting herself at a greater risk. She has to finish it with stand-up and not let Rose take it to the ground.

Q: Is there a fight we didn't address you are excited about?
GB: I am excited to see Ashley Cummins. We had her on our show and she talked about her last fight and I am excited to see her back in there. I am excited for both of these women. I wanna see if Veronica can pull out another knockout. They are all good fights. I can't say we really missed one that I more excited than ones we talked about.
EB: Jessica Penne and Nicdali. I am interested to see what Nicdali can do. The ones I haven't seen, they are the ones I wanna see. I wanna learn and the more I learn, the better I will be.

Q: What will be fight of the night?
GB: Rose and Tecia. They are so high energy. I see it being fight of the night. If not, then the main event, with the explosiveness that Cyborg brings.
EB: Tecia and Rose. It will have fireworks coming out of the cage. The main event has great potential. If Marloes doesn't get beat in round one and it goes the distance, it will be amazing.

Q: Tomorrow for the UFC Alexis Davis and Rosi Sexton, who wins?
GB: I am going with Alexis. She has put a lot of time and work in. I would like to see her get her shot at Ronda Rousey. She talked about how fighters have gotten Ronda's back and if she was there, she would finish. That is what I would like to see.
EB: I agree. Part is because I don't know much about Rosie. I know Alexis and feel the more exposure I have I am more likely to pick them. With her getting maybe a title shot, it will give her more drive.

Q: Anything you want to add?
GB: We appreciate you interviewing us. We are super happy to associated with you and have you as a friend of our show. I want to thank Gary Thomas and Juan Valle of Bluegrass MMA and Pro MMA Now. Emily for being the best co-host and always being prepared.
EB: Than you for having us. What motivates me more and more to look up female fighters and remember is when people put me under a test. Every interview is a test. So thank you for this. Also to Gina for being so patient with me. Thanks to Bluegrass, Frank Ramirez, Juan, all these people who help us.
GB: Thanks to Bangtown Fightwear for supporting our show.

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