Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gina Begley Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1 and 5: CMO Photo
Photos 2-3: Kellye Nicole
Photo 4: Paul Goodman Photo Sutdio

Gina Begley returns to the cage on August 3rd at NAAFS Caged Vengeance 14 when she faces Kaitlin Chookagian. Begley is coming off a big win over Shannon Culpepper and has been constantly improving and becoming one of the amateur fighters everyone is watching. Both fighters bring solid submission games to the cage and this fight could deliver a submission or fight of the night.

Q: I want to go over your last fight. You beat Shannon Culpepper. It seemed as though they thought they were bringing you in hoping to make you a nice name on the local fighters resume, did you feel that way?
A: I did! I felt like I was being brought in as good competition but someone she should be able to beat.

Q: Did it make the win that much more special?
A: It did because I got the feeling that she was the big favorite. It was nice to enter and not be expected to win and get the victory, especially in front of her hometown crowd. It felt nice, like invading a territory and taking a victory. It was a neat experience and one that I enjoyed. I enjoyed being being brought in to face the hometown favorite and taking that victory with me.

Q: As a pro you will fight less and less near home, is that long travel a good learning experience?
A: I have not really fought at home so much. I have had to travel to Northern Kentucky every time previous to Colorado. Even locally, I have a hard time finding fights, they find someone and she drops out last minute or they cant find anyone. I will be used to traveling some distance when it comes to turning pro. This fight coming up is five hours away so I wont have a lot of local support.

Q: You are fighting Kaitlin Chookagian, what do you know about her?
A: I really don't know much, and that is by choice. When they offered her as an opponent I looked her up and saw the basic information and watched one fight. I saw her record is listed as 2-0 with two arm bars and she is rightly proud of the fact that she is a Renzo Gracie Blue Belt. I saw a video of her grappling against a guy in a competition. Since that first time, I checked her record and asked questions, just to make sure I wasn't getting in a situation where someone had more experience than they claimed. After that, I haven't bothered to look up anything about her because I don't want to build up some quality in my head that she may or may not possess. What I learned from the initial offer as an opponent is all I know. It is not gonna make a difference after the fact how I fight or what I intend to do.

Q:It would seem as far as MMA, you are a big step up in competition for her, do you think she sees it that way or is that hard for you to tell?
A: It is really hard for me to tell because I have not done a lot of looking into what she has had to say, if anything. I don't really know. Maybe she thinks I am a step up in MMA but I don't know that she would feel like I am a step up in what she is ready for. She comes from a legit school and probably feels ready or she wouldn't accept the fight.

Q: Both her wins being by arm bar, not knowing if it is something she searches for or they just presented themselves, do you spend extra time working on defending arm bars?
A: I have been working a lot of extra time on my Jiu-Jitsu overall. Not because I am fighting her, but because I am trying to do my testing for 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. I feel like I am gonna prepared wherever she takes it. If she searches for the arm bar, I am comfortable with that, I search for them to. I compete regularly in Jiu-Jitsu and I think of the last couple times, ten of my wins have come from arm bars. Part of training for arm bars is training to defend them so I will be ready.

Q: With grappling and kickboxing, you have been really active between fights, does that help you getting ready for this fight?
A: I think gets you ready for the aggression that someone comes after you with. You can train with partners you are comfortable with and your coach can tell them to attack you aggressively, but they are not coming at you with the aggressiveness as someone who views you as competition. I try and stay active so I can be used to that adrenaline dump or the aggressiveness that someone comes at me with. It helps to maintain your composure. It will help me be prepared for this fight and other fights.

Q: You are 3-1 and for those of us with eyesight you should be 4-0 and you also host Pro WMMA Now. Whether you know it or not, your name is more high profile than most people with four amateur fights, do you think that will make your more and more appealing as an opponent for someone looking to make a name?
A: Possibly, but like you said, I don't really see it. I'm just training every day and feel fortunate to talk to the professionals I get to on my show. I don't see myself as high profile. If the shoe were on the other foot, I may see it that way but also would see it as "this person has a lot on the line" and would know they are training hard expecting people to come at them hard. I spend a lot of time thinking about, writing about, my whole life revolving around mixed martial arts and I think it gives me and advantage because that is all I do, talk about it, write about it, think about it, watching, train it, even my son trains with me. I think it makes me if anything, a more intimidating opponent in that it is all I have to do. I don't have to work forty hours a week and then train in my spare time.

Q: You get to talk to a lot of people on the show, does talking with them help you with fighting, maybe inspiration?
A: It really does. I get to hear what some of these women at the top are doing in their camps and preparation and how they feel about fighting and their emotion about it. I get an inside scoop on what they do to be successful and I can incorporate that to my routine and have success as well. If you want to be a success, see what they do and try and replicate it. I think it helps me, talking to successful people.

Q: You mentioned never fighting at home, but traveling to another state, does it change how you do that final week of a fight?
A: Possibly, just because I don't get to do my weight-cut at home. It is not as comfortable doing a cut in a motel or out of town sauna. But my preferred method is in the tub, so no matter where I am at, I get to have that luxury. It is a little different, not having your stuff, your surroundings, but it's not bad. When you re cutting, you aren't comfortable anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Q: NAAFS has had many of their fighters move to Invicta and even Bellator, does that make it appealing to fight for them?
A: I fought for RFA and they are a big promotion. It was questionable where I would fight next, would it be a local promotion? Then to get the offer from NAAFS, which is right there with where I came from, I am not going back to a small promotion, I am going to another big organization. It is cool to get to do that twice in a row because some people never get to do that at all. I am really excited. To fight for RFA and then move laterally to the NAAFS.

Q: Along those lines, you are a big proponent for women in the sport, for lack of a better word, do you find it cool to fight for a female matchmaker?
A: It really is. That is another reason I feel it is a lateral move from RFA to NAAFS because they are big into female fights, have a female matchmaker and embody what it is I try and promote with my show. It feels neat to go into a fight with people who are big supporters and have a female matchmaker. I love it and am super excited. Fighting for NAAFS is an amazing opportunity.

Q: Is there a key to winning this fight?
A: I do not like going to a decision. I have terrible luck with decisions. Even with Jiu-Jitsu, if it comes down to points, it seems like my weakness. My strategy is to finish. Even if I win a decision, it is still split. I don't want a decision, I want to finish fights.

Q; Do you have a prediction?
A: I think it's gonna be a good fight. I think MMA is unpredictable and that's what is wonderful about it. You have people who have trained in arts their whole life, like Jiu-Jitsu and get beat by people not as experienced. You never know when there will be a knock-out or someone makes a mistake. I am excited for it. I wouldn't say she has the best grappling pedigree I have faced because at one time Shannon Culpepper at one time was considered one of the best grapplers in the nation. I think it will be exciting.

Q: Have you given any thought as to how many amateur fights before you go pro?
A: The plan was at least two more before I talked about going pro. We had to consider wins, loses, opponent quality and things. It may be two more, it may be more, it may be less. It depends on what opportunities present themselves and how my fights go.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: You for the opportunity to do this and always being so supportive of my career and helpful. Gary Thomas and Juan Valle of Bluegrass MMA and Pro MMA Now. My coach Scott Elliott for always giving me the confidence I lacked in myself, I really appreciate everything he has done for me. Team AFS, all my training partners, especially Adam Fritz, he has put in countless hours working with me outside of gym time, Jessamyn Duke, Brandon Campbell, Emily Bartee, everyone at AFS Academy. Also, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and the Thai Boxing Association of Kentucky. My sponsors Doctor Taverni, Defense Soap, F3 Nutrition, Impact Mouth Guards, Mikes Mix Recovery Drink.

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