Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stephanie Skinner Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-3: Real Time Moments
Photos 4-5: FightFan.net

On September 6th Stephanie Skinner will play the role of bad guy, a role she seems to be embracing, when she faces local favorite Angelica Chavez for the XFC. Skinner is a vastly improved fighter, much better than her record would show and while many may seem to be overlooking her in this fight, Skinner has the skills to walk away with a win. This is a match-up of two exciting and skilled fighters that definitely could steal the show.

Q: Before we talk about the fight, for those not familiar, can you talk about how you got started training for the sport?
A: In 2009 the fights came to my hometown. I went to my first fight and there was one female fight. I wanted to be part of what they were doing, I wanted to try it for myself. I thought I was a little bad ass at the time and it gave me more motivation to get in the cage and show people I am not a person to be messed with. I took my first fight in September 2009 and have been doing it ever since.

Q: Did any family or friends react negatively to the idea of you fighting?
A: The only ones were my dad and my grandma. My friends were all for it, they said "that's cool, you should do it, you could be good." The flip side was my dad was like "you are my little girl, I don't wanna see someone punching you and I can't defend you." It was a case of being a daddies girl and him looking out for my best interest.

Q: When you are going out for that first fight and it is now real, were you nervous at all?
A: Until I walked in the cage I thought I wasn't nervous and then as soon as the door locked, I felt it in my stomach and throat and wanted to puke. After the bell rings and the first punch is thrown, it goes away and your adrenaline kicks in. But prior to that, yeah, I was nervous.

Q: You have Angelica Chavez coming up, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think this is a well matched fight. We both come from notable camps, camps that specialize in certain aspects. I feel that what we each specialize in will compliment the others. We will have an exciting stand-up battle or an exciting ground game if we choose to go to the ground. Her four wins are all submission, last year in Colorado my coach won submission of the year so we are known for our stand-up but we have a ground game to back it up as well.

Q: You train with Diana Rael who has actually beaten her, does it help to train with someone who has experience fighting the person you are about to fight?
A: Absolutely! I feel I have a greater hand with having Diana as a coach. She is a great fighter, a great mentor, and a coach to me. Her having fought fought Angelica, she knows what it is like, she knows the crowd in Albuquerque is her backyard, she is "South Valley's Own" Angelica Chavez, but she is not unbeatable and we have exposed that along with Nicdali when they fought, it showed she is beatable. It calms my nerves to know my coach has done it and I can follow in her footsteps.

Q: The crowd will be big time behind her, is that something you can block out or is it even something you embrace, being the bad guy?
A: I think I embrace it. Everyone likes to be the spoiler. Come the end of the fight, I am gonna hush them up. I will use their negative energy and turn it into energy I can use in the fight.

Q: Is their an area you feel you have the biggest advantage?
A: She is a well-rounded fighter. I have known of her the majority of her career and what they specialize in at the Chavez dojo, they are good fighters, they have two in the XFC right now. I don't feel I have an advantage in any area. The advantage is my will not to loose and the heart I carry behind what I do.

Q: On the flip side, is there somewhere she posses the biggest potential threat?
A: People say her ground game, but that is because people don't realize what I train. Diana did get submission of the year. People think we are stand-up, but we train all aspects of MMA. People can speculate that the ground is where it will end on her part because of her Jiu-Jitsu, but they will be surprised come September 6th when she doesn't get a first round submission.

Q: Doesn't it in a sense work to your advantage that people underestimate what you can do on the ground?
A: Absolutely! Let them talk her up, let them build her ego, let them continue to praise and give her ten to one odds. I want them to underestimate me, I want them to think I am just some two and four fighter who can just stand up and bang because I wanna turn heads and I wanna change minds when I step in that cage.

Q: Most people seem to be overlooking you, which you seem o.k. with, but do you ever get insulted by it?
A: Maybe in the beginning I was, when people were saying "she is two and four, they needed an opponent she can beat." It is annoying but after talking with coaches, I can laugh it off. I know the fighter I am now. Under my coaches I am two and one. I cant change my past but I can continue to do what I know how to do.

Q: It is a big promotion, televised fight, does that put any more pressure on you?
A: Initially when they came to me and said they draw so many viewers, and it is televised, it does get the jitter bugs going, but come fight time, the only thing that matters is me and the girl across the ring. I will use the negative energy, embrace it, I want them to cheer for their hometown girl cause I am gonna break your hearts at the end of the day.

Q: How big of a win would this be for you?
A: It would be huge. Angelica Chavez is a worthy opponent. A win over someone with her name will sky-rocket my name. Just because my record says two and four, that doesn't mean that is the kind of fighter I am anymore. A win would be huge for myself and will show the world I am here to stay and I am here to play with the big girls.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I would like to predict that if it goes to the ground it will end how my last two ended. If it stays on the feet, it will be a battle till one of us falls. I am not gonna say I am gonna absolutely win because anything can happen, it is part of the game. But if it goes to the ground I have every bit of confidence in the fact that I am gonna dominate..

Q: Any idea what you want after this?
A: Right now I am only signed for one fight with XFC. With a win, I don't see why they wouldn't sign me to a multi-fight time. I here good things that if you put on a good fight and show heart, they will sign you. I would like to continue to fight with XFC, they are a growing promotion and I would like to stay if they would have me.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coaches Benjamin Schissler and Diana Rael, my training partners Cassie Robb, Ali Hanjani, Nathan Gates, my sponsors, Serial Boxe, MMA Mass Destruction and American Ground and Pound, Inksmith Tattoo, Law Offices of Stacey Nickolaus, Destiny Gonzales at Floyd's Barbershop, Jack-n-Grill, Jason Gibbs, MMAJam.ca.

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