Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jessica Philippus Interview

Jessica Phlippus is someone who I knew little about until recently, but in a short time have become a fan. Her obvious passion for the sport, and desire to succeed are both admirable and a reason I see her going really far in the sport. Her desire to fight stemmed from watching a terribly bad female fight, so we should all thank those two girls for having such a terrible fight because it layed the groundwork for someone like Jessica to bring excitement to female MMA.

Q: First, Jessica I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.

A: Thank you for giving me this opportunity! This took quite a bit of introspection, which is never easy, but it’s always healthy do to from time to time.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?

Well I was born and raised in the East Bay Area of northern California. I am and always will be a Cali girl at heart even though I’ve been in the Midwest for 9 yrs now. I came to Missouri on a scholarship to Missouri Valley College, it was quite a culture shock at first but one thing I have to say I love about it out here is that everyone treats you like family. In Cali you don’t talk to strangers, in this small town there are no strangers! We have been very blessed with all the friends who have taken us under their wing over the years.

I have two wonderful guys that my world revolves around. One is 6 and the other is 28, both named Robb. But don’t let the name deceive you… he’s a mini me through and through! He looks just like his daddy, but is a little social butterfly like me!

After meeting the during first couple weeks of school, I had the biggest crush on Robb. Although I swore to myself I’d never date a wrestler (bc they’re CRAZY[both male and female]) apparently his dry wit and good looks were too much to resist and we started dating shortly thereafter. Here we stand, 9 interesting years later…

We got pregnant in college at the age of 20, so it was scary (to say the least), nerve wracking, and a little disappointing to know that both of our wrestling careers were going to come to a screeching halt. With that said, this kid turned out to be the BEST thing that has ever happened to us. He makes me feel like my heart is walking/running/skipping around outside my chest. He has taught us the true meaning of love and how to be selfless at a phase in life that is typically known for selfishness. Robb quit wrestling to get a job (where he still works); we got married, I finished up my Exercise Science degree with a breastfeeding new born (yes…very difficult), then followed that up with an MBA. We now both work 40+ hrs at ConAgra Foods on the overnight shift, he supervises mechanics and I’m responsible for Quality.

Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?

A: Not really! I was actually especially girly growing up! I did ballet, gymnastics and softball. It wasn’t until high school that someone dared me to try wrestling. Not being one to turn down a challenge I did it and fell in love. I personally think that it saved me from an adolescence riddled with trouble. It gave me a good excuse to get good grades and stay on the right path.

Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?

A: I had begun training and competing in judo and jiu jitsu for about 4 months, when we went to a fight where there was one female match on the card and it was HORRENDOUS to say the least. I had to look away; I was downright embarrassed to be a female that night. It was that moment I realized I had to do something to turn around the local opinion of women in MMA. I knew that if I started training towards fighting then I could display a legitimate and respectable female athlete in the cage, not a glorified cat fight and perhaps inspire a few more girls to do so as well.

Q: Was the training something you picked up fairly easy?

A: Ha!! Well yes and no. Running, lifting, conditioning, cutting weight, and pushing myself further when I feel like quitting are all things that I was/am very familiar with. Now talk about getting punched in the face or kneed in the belly and we’re talking about a whole different monster! That took some getting used to for sure! That’s a work in progress everyday and I am thankful for my wonderful training partner and coaches that are helping me get to the next level with that.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?

A: Not long enough apparently! 4 months judo/jiu jitsu and 2 months MMA.

Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?

A: Hmmm that’s a tough one considering I just got a call from my mom last week begging me to quit… But of course she still wishes me luck, watches the video of my fights, and congratulates me. She always says, “Jessie! I didn’t teach you to be mean like that!!” That woman is a riot.

I would say 95% of (both sides) our family doesn’t “approve” of us fighting but they always wish us well and congratulate.

Now friends, co-workers, and community members are a different story! Robb and I both have an awesome support system and cheering section here in Marshall! They make it to almost all our fights. I have a co-worker/friend that is making the 4 hr drive (with kids!) to come watch me this weekend and college friend/sorority sister that is driving 2.5hr this weekend to come be my “sports psychologist” ;)Thanks Heidi and Nell!! Can’t wait!

Q: Where do you train at now?

A: Well there has been some recent shifting, but we are settled in now among the top athletes in Kansas City. 3 days/week I drive to practice 30 min away to be trained by Jose Vega (Bellator) where he has really been helping me fine tune flaws and yelling at me when needed during sparring!

The other 2 days/week I drive an hour to KC to train at Grindhouse with my fellow female fighter BFF. At Grindhouse we are coached by Brian Davidson (Bellator) and Deryck Ripley (who was also a Valley wrestler).

This weekend my friend Laura and I will be cornered by Robb and Deryck.

Q: Can you give your overall record so far.

A: On it says 2-1, because I fought in Indiana in March and apparently they’re not a sanctioned state. Overall I’m now 3-1.

Q: Which fight so far is the one you are most proud of?

A: I would have to go with first fight and sole loss to Barb Honchack. I was pretty much shark bait and I survived 5 minutes in the cage with an elite athlete who was much bigger, stronger, and experienced than I. I learned A LOT of lessons that night, so much so that it took me 9 months to work up the courage to get back in the cage! I don’t like having a loss on my record, but if I was going to lose to anyone I’m not entirely ashamed to lose to her, she’s a phenomenal fighter who turned into an awesome mentor and friend. She cornered me for my 2nd fight. That’s how awesome she is and that’s why I love women’s MMA!

Q: What would you say is your biggest strength and the one thing you most want to improve?

A: My biggest strength would be heart, plain and simple. I may not be the best, the strongest, the fastest, or most popular. But one thing’s for certain, I will give it all I have, fight my little heart out and never quit.

The thing I most want to improve is my nutrition and adhering to structured, clean eating. I want a freaking 6 pack darn it! I’m getting close, but I know proper nutrition will get me there and more importantly; make us better athletes. I have to admit that I gravely dislike cooking (and the clean up afterwards). I will give in to something easy and fast on crazy days when it seems like I need more than 24 hrs in a day. We do pretty well until something throws off our routine or sleep pattern, but I would really like to feed my family healthy, clean food on a more regular basis. The sad part is with a degree in fitness & nutrition, I know better! I know how and what to do, it’s just a matter of executing it and preparing for the unexpected. I really admire figure and body builders in that aspect.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training and competing in the sport?

A: One of the best parts of MMA is when you’re walking to your car after an intense practice where you’re completely drained because you gave it your all. My other favorite is getting my hand raised!

The absolute worst part is waiting. Waiting the week before a fight, waiting to weigh in, waiting for med checks, waiting for your turn on the card, and waiting for that bell to start the match. Sounds like maybe I’m just an impatient girl… I just want to be in there and in the middle of my human chess match already!

Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or love to watch?

A: No seriously I am a huge fan of Lisa, not only because she was my team mate, but because of how far she’s come, all that she’s accomplished, and how she’s paved the road for us. Plus she’s just an amazing fighter, athlete and person. I really look up to her and any other wrestlers turned mixed martial artists who are setting the bar in this sport. Miesha Tate is also really intriguing and inspiring as to how much she has matured in this sport in a few short years.

AS far as men go, I really like watching heavyweights & light heavyweights because the sheer power they posses.

Q: In your opinion, who are the top five female fighters in the sport pound for pound?

A: Lisa Ward, Megumi Fujii, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, and Cat Zingano (not in any particular order!)

Q: Do you ever see a major U.S. women’s only company being viable?

A: Not really, or not any time in the near future at least. Women’s MMA has made huge strides recently but it is still in its infancy. It is gaining momentum though and women are proving they can put on quality fights just like the guys. Bellator has done an amazing job showcasing the top lightweight females in the world. The 115lb tournament really did a lot for women’s MMA and I hope to see more!

Q: Often you watch a show that has one women's fight. Somehow that fight always turns out to be the most exciting fight on the card. Why do you think that is?

A: Excluding the fight I mentioned earlier, I completely agree. It’s due to the fact that women go out there and put their heart on the line. We are creatures of passion and raw emotion (yes including crying!); when you mix that with MMA you get exciting matches. On the flip side it also comes off as women being out for blood, they want to rip your head off, whereas guys are partaking in a sport. Not that guys don’t fight as hard, but bluntly put: women are crazy. There I said it. No sugar coating! Last year in one 4 min freestyle judo match, I had been bit in the breast, hands around my neck choked, and had my hair pulled by one insane girl who was not acclimated to losing at her own game. I felt like I was on the set of Jerry Springer. If that doesn’t thoroughly explain my point, I don’t know what will…

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?

A: The biggest misconception is that because we’re female, we somehow know nothing about the sport. Gotta love it when some random guy (who is of no caliber to be giving advice) will sit there and lecture you; I just smile and nod and thank him for the advice. Or on the other end of the spectrum, when a new guy shows up to practice, acts like a jerk and doesn’t want to roll with a girl. Then when he finally has to, says something stupid like, “should I take it easy on you?” Yeah sure dude, you go ahead and ‘take it easy’ on me while I choke you out… It’s the arrogant jerks like that who also try to just muscle girls around and try to hurt them. Just because I’m a female doesn’t mean I suck, or am of weak body or mind. I have no patience for closed minded, ignorant people. Period.

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to train for the sport, what’s the biggest piece of advice you would give her?

A: Start with 4-6 weeks of cardio and strength if you’re not already athletic, start drinking more water and eating more protein. Then we’ll start punching you in the face and go from there…

Q: Outside of training and fighting, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?

A: Who has time outside training and fighting?!?! I enjoy coaching girl’s wrestling at Valley and I have a few favorite high school girls that I mentor during season  Other than that, playing with Robby and chillin’ with family and friends.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Jessica Philippus?

A: HAHA!!! You’re gonna laugh! We’re vampires and completely backwards to most of America. I’ll describe from the end of my day, which is the beginning of a normal person’s day.

7:30am- Get off work, pick up Robby from babysitters and take him to school.

8:00am-2:30pm- SLEEP! YESSSSSS!!

2:45pm- Robb goes to pick up Robby. I brush teeth, make oatmeal, prepare supplements and his after school snack. We chill for a little bit while eating and talk about the day. (sometimes we switch!)

4:00-6:00pm- Workout at the YMCA. Strength, cardio, conditioning; then play time with Robby in the pool or on the basketball court.

6:00-7:00pm- Protein and supplements, feed Robby dinner, prepare our food for later, read the little one a book for HW.

7:00-9:00pm- Drive to practice, then time to soak up some knowledge from Jose, head home.

9:00-10:00pm- Put Robby to sleep (if he isn’t already!), prepare his clothes and backpack for next day. Get showered, dressed and ready for work. Carry my sleeping 50lb 6 yr old to the car and drop him off.

10:30pm-7:30am- Work at ConAgra!

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

A: Well most people are shocked when they hear that I fight. I guess because I’m small they don’t expect it. But for people that do know me as a fighter…ummm I guess that for as much as I can “hang with the boys” I love all things girly! I Loooove glitter and pink and anything sparkly! My team mates used to make fun of me when there was glitter on the mat in practice. “Well we know who that’s from!”

Q: Describe Jessica Philippus in five words.

A: Outgoing, Feisty, Fun, Loving, Determined.

Q: So what’s next for you? Any idea when you will be fighting again?

A: Oct 30, IL’s first all female card, in the first leg of a 105 lb tournament (NOTE: Jessica won this fight). Then December 3rd at Harrah’s casino in Kansas City.

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?

A: Sure! I’m in the process of creating a brand and website for past and present female wrestlers. I got to thinking about some of the little girls I coach/mentor and how they look up to me and collegiate female wrestlers pursuing their dreams and how those college girls have elite female MMA fighters who are ex-wrestlers to look up to. I want all those girls to know anything is possible with enough discipline, dedication and desire. Thus wrslrchick (wrestler chick) was created! PLUS…it’s hard to come by much that is geared toward wrestler girls and they have plenty to be proud of, they should be able to display it for everyone to see! I have tons of ideas for direction I want the site to go, aka-one stop shop for the girl grappler! But I will start slow bc my pricy education says that’s the best way for most businesses to start and remain sustainable. I also want a place to be able to bring light to the accomplishments of fellow wrestler chicks whether it’s placing in notable freestyle/folkstyle wrestling tournaments or winning fights. It may inspire someone, somewhere! will be up in its infancy in about 2 weeks.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Jessica Philippus the fighter and person?

A: Of course! I actually don’t currently have any sponsors. They can find me on facebook or email me at They would be getting one heck of a girl, with a big mouth, and an unrelentless passion for success! Hahaha :-) I am a professional, forward thinking, business savvy girl who is very outgoing and just so happens to love this sport and anything associated with it.

Q: Jessica again, I want to thank you for doing this. Any last words before you go?

A: I would just like to thank my coaches from long, long ago in High School, who gave me a chance. One in particular, Mauricio Tijero, believed in me and saw greatness in me when I did not. Without those men, I wouldn’t be where I am today; literally and figuratively. My success in HS brought me to Missouri, which gave me friends, “family” and Robb, then Robby! I have never had the easy road in life, but I am finally to a point where things are falling in place! I am just grateful for my healthy family and true friends, everything else is icing on the cake! Most recently I am super grateful for meeting my fighting soul sista, Laura Marcusse who is also fighting on same card this weekend. Woo hoo for some Grindhouse girls in action this weekend!


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