Friday, September 30, 2011

Cari Atkinson Interview

Q: First, Cari, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for giving me the opportunity Jason, I appreciate it.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?
A: Sure, I grew up in Illinois and moved to Missouri about 11 years ago. I have two wonderful children, Robert and Ali. I am a training coordinator at The Police Academy and a Personal Trainer for Club Fitness.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I am currently employed at The Police Academy and do PT with the recruits. I haven’t really played any sports in years.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I was getting ready to turn 40 and felt I needed to better myself inside and out and what better way to do that but to get fit!

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I had a great trainer which made it easy for me. I did so well that the Director at the gym asked me if I would be interested in becoming a trainer for them…what a great compliment. Of course we all want the immediate results, but it did take a bit for me to see them in my upper body.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: My trainer and I went to a show in April and it inspired us both to complete. We only had 11 weeks, but did it!

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My daughter was totally supportive, Thanks Ali! It did take my Mother a bit as she thought I would end up looking like a guy…lol. All my friends thought it was awesome.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: I wasn’t sure what to expect. Right before walking on stage I could feel my legs shaking. I found out I wasn’t the only one, all of us girls were shaking. The adrenaline rush was great!

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I have only competed once, July 9th, 2011. I entered three categories: 40+ and took a 2nd place, Beginner’s and took a 3rd place and Novice and placed 8th. Not too shabby!

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Legs for sure!

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Again, legs are my favorite….give me those deep lunges and “butt to the floor” squats as Nick would say!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I train 6 days a week all the time. I eat clean for the most part, but do have a cheat meal every once in a while. Prep consisted of only 1 cheat meal as it made me sicker than a dog…so not worth it…lol.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Definitely positive!

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: “You look great, take some time off”. That is not an option for competitors.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: It takes a lot of hard work to train for a competition. There are no over-night results for anyone. We take it very serious and it is part of our life.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part is the satisfaction I feel after seeing results and feeling that burn. The worst part is the diet as it is hard to eat on the required time frame that is necessary with work and life schedules.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Nicole Wilkins and Alex Ellis!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Peanut butter….so love it!

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Be prepared for lots of hard work and dedication, in time it will pay off and you will look and feel wonderful.

Q: Do you think it’s becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: I think women are finally realizing you burn more calories with free weights then cardio and you get defined by lifting which is what my clients are looking for.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love running and hope to complete a half marathon in 2012.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Cari Atkinson.
A: I work full-time at The Police Academy and part-time as a personal trainer. I am also a volunteer first responder for my community so my days are packed with work, training, board meetings and then home life.

Q: Describe Cari Atkinson in five words.
A: Wow, ok, Petite, Driven, Dedicated, Organized, Outspoken!

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I am outspoken, but also have a shy side.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I would love to compete again in March or April 2012. Gotta build those muscles!!!

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I would like to thank O’Fallon GNC and Max Muscle for all their assistance with supplements, etc.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Cari Atkinson the athlete and competitor?
A: I would love to have a sponsor for my next show….I have the dedication, 110% commitment and drive to prove myself a winner. I can be reached via personal e-mail at

Q: Cari, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Again, thank you Jason and ladies…keep pumping that iron, it makes you sexy!

Kristen Chanaiwa Interview

Q: First, Kristen, thanks for taking the time to do this.
A: Thanks for inviting me to interview with you.

Q: Can you tell a little about yourself.
A: I'm a 25 year old group fitness instructor and physique competitor from California. I'm from a diverse blended family of 5 kids ranging in ages from 22- 42. My family moved around quite a bit while I was growing up, but most recently I'm living on the Central Coast of California.

Q: Growing up, were you especially athletic? Play any sports?
A: I've always been physically active and very fit. I was a dedicated competitive gymnast from a young age. In junior high I found my love for dance and choreography, which carried me on to dancing and cheerleading through high school and making the decision to choose dance as my major at California State University, Long Beach with a focus in ballet and modern dance.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: At the end of my sophomore year at Long Beach I became ill and had to leave school. I worked hard all summer long to recover and rehab chronic issues with my knees, hips, and low back but found that I wasn't able to return to the same rigorous 7-8 hour dance day I turned my focus to a career in makeup artistry. I backed way off on the physical activity for a few years mostly due to the fact that I really didn't know how to train outside of the ballet or pilates studio. I moved back to the Central Coast from Los Angeles and in 2008 I found myself with a free pass to the gym. I decided to use it.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: When I first started working out at the gym I had a few appointments with a personal trainer who showed me around the machines and gave me general ideas about what to do in term circuits. It wasn't long until I got bored and started peaking over at the free weights area. Soon I picked up my first copy of Oxygen Magazine and realized I could make weight training my new sport. I discovered a way to learn self discipline while enjoying the physical challenge that I had been missing since leaving dance. I recognized positive changes in my mental well being and my health within just a few weeks.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: About a year after I started weight training I found myself completely obsessed with all things fitness and nutrition which led me to clean eating. I learned to enjoy cooking and baking and successfully completed a 21 day clean eating challenge. My physique changed in that month so much someone at the gym asked me if I was going to compete. I admitted I'd been stalking the internet recently trying to figure out what it was all about; that I'd been reading about the newly introduced Bikini division. He introduced me to his friend Lisa who was a competitive Bodybuilder. She convinced me that I was in great shape and that I would do well in Bikini. She suggested I go for it right away and 3 weeks later I found my self at my first competition. I placed first in my class!

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My family didn't really know what I was talking about when I told them I was going to be competing. They've yet to see me on the stage but they always support me and cheer me on. Most everyone has been supportive, especially my boyfriend. Surprisingly a really good friend of mine didn't have anything positive to say when I first started and the support from her has been lacking since. At first my feelings were really hurt, but I hit the gym, ran it off, and it was no sweat. I do it for me anyway.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: I can say that I was really surprised by tiny those bikini bottoms were(!) and by how nice everyone was. It was such a shock to see so many beautiful women all in one place, who also happened to be intelligent, motivated, disciplined, and genuinely nice. Its so nice to be surrounded by confident people who share the camaraderie of having a common goal.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2010 NPC Orange County Muscle Classic 1st Place Bikini C
*2010 NPC Tournament of Champions 4th Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Orange County Muscle Classic 9th Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Pacific USA's 1st Place Overall, 1st Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Tournament of Champions 1st Place Bikini C

Q: What do you feel is your best body part?
A: I tend to come by my upper body pretty naturally. It doesn't take much work for me to make gains in my arms and once I met my goal of adding muscle to my back, it's been fairly easy to maintain. I used to be shy about my arms. I thought they made me look like a boy. Now I'm proud of them. I really love my shoulders.

Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: Recently I'm really enjoying training chest. It's not a part I really focus on, but I love the way it feels to get a good pump. I feel strong!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: This off season I'm focusing on bringing up my legs and carving out some abs. I do a three day split working lower body twice (heavy Monday, light Friday) and upper body once (Wednesday). I hit abs three times a week as well as cardio. Carbs make up the bulk of my diet and I eat tons of veggies to meet the need. I hit about 1.6g/kg protein per day and get around 25% of my calories from fat. During contest prep I use carb cycling to burn fat. I also work circuits and just about double my cardio. I like high intensity interval training.

Q: When people see or hear you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Most people are positive. If they aren't into it no one says anything to my face, which I appreciate.

Q: What is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: People who've known me for a while but haven't seen my physique typically say something like "whoa! you're buff." It doesn't bother me but it does remind me of my goals. I find it interesting that no one ever asks me what I eat to look like this, they just want to know how long they should workout and on which machines.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete?
A: I think the biggest misconception people have about women who train is that in order to achieve their physiques they under eat processed junk and stick to light weights, high reps and pour on the cardio. Ah! I wish people new that it starts with diet and ends with resistance training and cardio. They all work together.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training?
A: The worst part of training for me is that I wish I had a custom home gym. I love to work out in an empty club. Just me, my music, and the iron; no distractions. The best part is the endorphins. I love the way I feel after a good workout. I live for a good sweat.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I have tons of favorites, but to keep the list short I'll say Amanda Latona, Nicole Wilkins, Ava Cowan and Erin Stern. I'm also crazy for Jamie Eason and Alicia Marie.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat meal?
A: Favorite cheat meal is probably Mexican food due to the fact that my homemade guacamole is fantastic and I love me some tortilla chips. :)

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what advice would you give her?
A: If you're thinking about competing, DO IT! It's so worth it.

Q: Do you think its more common these days for women to use the weights as opposed to just cardio and things?
A: I don't know if it's more common yet, but I think the interest is growing. I have women stop me at the gym all the time and ask questions about training. They want to know. Maybe their a little intimidated but they see that it works and they're curious.

Q: Outside of training any hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Outside of training, I'm a big reader. I also love to cook and bake.

Q: Can you describe a typical day is the life of Kristen Chanaiwa.
A: My typical day starts early at the restaurant I work at. Breakfast starts at 6:30am so I'm there as early as 5:30. The good thing about an early start is that I'm off by about noon usually. Then I hit the gym and run any errands I might need to do. I teach cycle and Zumba at my health club a few nights a week, so sometimes I'm off to work again, or I'm at home making dinner, studying for my upcoming personal training certification test, or catching up on my DVR episodes before bed.

Q: Describe Kristen Chanaiwa in five words.
A: Smart, funny, loyal, honest, and passionate.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: People might be surprised to know that despite my ability to turn it on in a pinch, I often feel shy/awkward/nervous when in front of a group.

Q: Any set plans as far as competing or anything?
A: I don't plan on competing again until next year. I'm hoping to make some improvements before I try for my pro card.

Q: Anything you want to plug or promote?
A: Yes! Please check out and like my Facebook Fan Page. I update it daily with recipes, motivational quotes, tips about health and fitness, and updates on class schedules and upcoming contests.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Kristen Chanaiwa?
A: I am looking for a sponsor! The best way to reach me is through e-mail at or my Facebook page. I'm a dedicated, disciplined, excited and eager athlete and model. I love to be challenged and I don't know how to be anything but the best I can be at all times and I love to learn. My eyes and ears are open so I can gather everything I need to know to succeed.

Q: Kristen,a gain, thanks for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thanks for the opportunity to chat and for opening your door to me. Cheers to a fit life!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sarah Cook Interview

Q: Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
A: Well I really appreciate the opportunity!

Q: Can you tell a little about yourself.
A: I am a 20 year old single mother of a beautiful 1 yr old boy. MMA is my passion, and I want more then anything to make it my career.

Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?
A: I would say I was very athletic all through school. I played every sport you can think of, track, softball, basketball, volleyball, I wrestled, as well as played football. I love to train there is nothing better. Its my way of life.

Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?
A: What got me started in MMA I would have to say was my first medical fight, then I fell in love with every aspect of being in that cage across from my opponent, the rush you feel is incredible. I've always loved the sport, but my first fight was a fight for breast cancer all female card through Absolute Action MMA. That's what got me started.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: Was the training easy? Don't get me wrong I was always running through drills in school sports like cake, but MMA training? This was no easy task, I knew this was where I would know if I had what it takes to be a fighter. Training now is still not easy but I power through it everyday.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: Training before my first fight was not very long at all maybe about 6 months. Then I was fighting once a month after that.

Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?
A: My family and friends are very supportive they love every second of it. With out them I honestly would have nothing. They are my strength when I enter that cage.

Q: Where are you training now?
A: Right now I am training at Prodigy Fitness Center in Springboro, Ohio. The trainers are amazing they rush you beyond your limits and make you better everyday.

Q: What is your current record?
A: My over all record is at 2 and 3 but I'm working to change that ever time I train.

Q: Is there a fight you are most proud of?
A: The fight I am most proud of was my title fight. I fought the hardest I ever have to get to where that belt and it all paid off. Christine Cyborg placed my belt on me. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Not many get that opportunity and by God blessing me I did.

Q: What is the one thing you most want to improve?
A: My only weakness is a talk person. Different people have different things, travel gets in their head, and that's mine. I would love to improve my striking its not bad but not the best either. I want to feel I am 100 percent when I get in that cage so striking is focus right now.

Q: What is the most memorable fight you have ever seen?
A: The fight most memorable for me would have to be when I got the chance to see Cyborg's trainer Cosmo Cala fight. It wan amazing fight and he dominated ever inch of that cage. This fight was also memorable because it was the fight I won my first title belt through Absolute Action MMA. I'll never forget the words that came out of Joe Deuorta's mouth he looked at me before I walked out to the cage and said " Whose the Champ" and made me say "I'm the Champ" that was the hardest fought fight I've ever fought. The highlight of my night was when Christine "Cyborg" Santos herself put my belt on me.

Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or enjoy watching?
A: My favorite fighter would have to be Christine "Cyborg" Santos. she is my inspiration, and I try everyday to be as great a fighter as her. She dominates every time she steps in the cage. Not only is she a great fighter but shes also an amazing women I've had the privilege of meeting her a few times and being able to talk to her, and she is such a loving and friendly person.

Q: Do you see a major U.S. women's only promotion being viable anytime soon?
A: I do honestly believe that an all women's company is soon to come. Women are making an impact in MMA everyday not only inside the cage , but outside as well. By the way they train, and the way they inspire young women and the fact that discipline is key to have to make everything of yourself as a fighter.

Q: Whenever you see a show with one women's fight, that fight often tends to be the most exciting on the show, why do you think that is?
A: The women's fights tend to be the most exciting because we put so much heart into every move we make and its like we seem to be a lot feistier then the guys.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?
A: The biggest misconception of female fighters would be that we don train as hard as the guys, and will never be able to perfect a "mans" sport. Well let me tell you plenty of us ladies have title belts that say most of us train harder, bleed redder, and sweat way more then some male fighters out there.

Q: If another girl told you she wanted to start training, what piece of advice would you give her?
A: I actually have a girl I am training now and when she came to me the first thing I told her was, This is not easy, it takes discipline, heart, and the will to never give up even when the body says no. Win or lose always keep your head held high, fight for yourself and NO ONE else, that means learn from ever lose and learn from every win. The only person that can make you the fighter you want to be is yourself.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Other then fighting and training I enjoy spending time with my son and family, going to amusement parks or even just grilling out and sitting by a bon fire and relaxing. I play any and all sports I can for my school. I love teaching the kids at the gym and just watching them grow in the fight world.

Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Sarah Cook.
A: A typical day in the life of me pretty much starts out at about 6 a.m. if i don't have to work I'm training, running rolling, and hitting the bag till about 10 or 11 a.m., then I spend time with my son, and I'm doing my best to teach him what I know but as a 2 yr old he kinda gets side tracked :). Then at about 5:30 I'm at Prodigy Training Center either boxing or helping out with our medals in the making youth class. Then take my mma classes and I'm usually there till about 12 by the time I get done with my strength and conditioning then its off to bed to do it all over again.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Most people would be surprised to know that I love to shop. When I'm at the gym I come off as the "tomboy" type so the guys I train treat me no different then one of the guys.

Q: Describe Sarah Cook in five words.
A: Sarah Cook in five words would have to be giving, hard working, big heart, a contender, encouraging. A FIGHTER!

Q: Any idea when you will be fighting next?
A: My next fight will be in November for Absolute Action MMA. My next step is to go pro, and fighting in the big shows like Bellator, Strikeforce, and hopefully one day when women make the break through I want to be the first female fight in the UFC!

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: I would love to thank my sponsors Blue Grass MMA, The Garage Massage and Therapy,Cage Passion fight wear, and Absolute Action MMA. For up coming fights go to and see me along with my fellow fight mates battle it out for the night of our lives. I want to thank my gym Team Prodigy and my trainer Kenneth Warrix for always having my back.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Sarah Cook?
A: YES!!!!! Always looking for sponsors. My sponsors can always count on my promise to fight hard and promote their name where ever I go, and at every show. As a person I'm very loyal to my sponsors and team so making them happy is what I strive to do, and I do it very well. I have a facebook account and through that they can get my number, or also I have an email which is Any request or emails will be viewed right away.

Q: Sarah, thanks again for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A:Well thank you so so much for this great opportunity, and privilege to be a part of this interview. Hope to talk to you again soon. THANKS WITH LOVE SARAH COOK!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I haven't written anything like this in awhile, but after her Bellator win vs Casey Noland on Saturday September 24th, I felt it was time to write one, about Jessica "Evil" Eye.

Let's go back to 2010. My blog was still fairly new. I fighter I knew was coming to fight on NAAFS Eve of Destruction, an all female card. I had yet to meet her in person, so wanted to be there, and perhaps cover the show as well, since it was all female. That would be my first NAAFS show, and I have covered every one of them since. Well, her fight ended up not happening, but I went anyway. The main event was Jessica Eye vs Marissa Caldwell. I admit, I knew little of both. I was aware of Jessica, and had heard she was good, but never actually saw her fight. The other fights ended and it was time for the main event.

Before the fighters entered the place went crazy, Jessica Eye, shirts, signs, posters, all on display. When Jessica came out to the cage, the place erupted. I couldn't believe how loud it was. I actually felt bad for Marissa because it seemed not a single person was rooting for her. Now, I wouldn't say I was rooting for Marissa, but there is that natural feeling you sometimes get of "wouldn't it be funny if the crowd all got shocked". What I watched was Jessica Eye put on an amazing performance, controlling the whole fight. I was quickly a Jessica Eye fan.

After the fight I asked her to do an interview and take a picture. We share a couple short messages on Facebook, but the interview would take many many months before it happened. But I saw Jessica a a show two months after her fight and went to say hi, and instead was greeted with a hug. It caught me off guard, I mean, she hardly knew me. Later I would come to find out that that is just how Jessica is. If you support Jessica, you are not just a fan, she thinks of every fan as a friend in one way or another.

Over time, I really got to know Jessica. We talked on the phone, in person, online, etc. Her nickname is evil, and inside the cage, she may be, but outside the cage, she is as sweet a person as a person can be. I remember one thing above all else. One night we were talking on the phone, about some big things coming her way that she didn't want announced yet. During that conversation, we talked about my huge weight loss and desire to get on a bodybuilding stage. I told her I needed surgery to remove loose skin first. I don't want to say what she said, but she said something to me that I will never forget and that phone call will always have a special place in my heart.

But Jessica is that way with everyone. If a girl needs help on her game, Jessica is quick to say "come to Strong Style and I will work with you", you need help with something, Jessica is the first to say "let me see what I can do". Ask all the female fighters who have come to work with Jessica, or all the female fighters who look up to her.

When I decided to fight, I knew right away I wanted Jessica to be one of the two people I learned from. So Jessica and Rachel Dovidio gave of their time and knowledge to help me. Never once did they ask for anything in return. When I would text her and say something bad about myself or I was unhappy with my work, she was quick to put me in my place. When it turned out my hip wouldn't let me fight, she saw I was upset, but she didn't give me sympathy. She knew it wasn't what I needed. She instead helped me focus on what was always my number one goal, competing in bodybuilding. I still get down about not being allowed to fight, but when I am down, I know I can go to Jessica for a quick reality check.

So just two nights ago, Jessica got to fight for Bellator. She fought a great fight, easily winning a decision, save for one judge who somehow decided to not watch the fight and score it for Noland. The people I was with, female fighters, finally got to see what I go through when they fight. The nerves I felt. Not nervous for her winning or losing, not for her safety, but just because I see how hard she works, I know the person she is, I wanted her to have success, that's why I get nervous. When the third round ended, I was sure Jessica had won, yet still I got nervous. In fact the last thirty seconds, I was tugging on the shirt of fighter Jessica Dinch, that's how nervous I was. But even while confident, I couldn't help the nerves. I sat rocking back and forth in my seat, starring into my hands. The first judge scored it for Jessica, but then the second judge scored it for Noland. I was worried, did my obvious biasedness for Jessica make me see something that wasn't there? Did Jessica lose? The announcer finally said "for your winner.......... from Independence, Ohio" and before he said Jessica's name I pumped my fist hard and jumped up. Jessica was jumping in the cage, blood dripping from a cut under her eye, she was so happy. And me, like the rest of the crowd was happy for her. Finally, they went to interview her, seeing the happiness on her face, I could hold it no more, laugh if you want, but I had tears in my eyes. Jessica Eye had just put the world on notice, that she is for real, and is going to be around doing big things for many years.

So why do EYE Believe? Listen, I am male, and Jessica is a female. I am older than her by several years. So to some, maybe its strange that she means so much to me. But if you know Jessica at all, you will know that its not strange at all. EYE believe in Jessica the fighter, that much is obvious, but EYE believe even more in Jessica the person. It's not about trying to be friends with some top fighter, cause I am friends with lots of fighters, it's not cause I think Jessica is some cute girl, cause I look at her almost like a sister, so its nothing like that. Its about Jessica in so many ways reminds me of me. I am often called a giving and helpful person, well that's who Jessica is.......only she is more of a bad ass than me haha. I got my EYEbelieve tattoo because its my tribute to someone who wanted to help me when she didn't have to. Who had my back when she didn't have to. Who helps so many people, when she doesn't have to. In his press conference, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney referred to Jessica's fans as an army. Well yes, they are an army, and army she worked hard to ear, and has earned them. But that army supports her not just because she is a good fighter, but because she is a special person.

These are the reasons EYE Believe. EYE believe she will be among the elite fighters in the sport, EYE Believe she is a special person, EYE Believe she is an example of what I love about women's MMA. EYE Believe you have only seen a small sample of what is in store for this young woman. These are the reasons EYE Believe..... In fact, EYE don't just believe..... EYE Know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spotlight interview: Sherri Gray

Back when I first started training and doing my blog and interviews, one of the first people who really stood out to me was Sherri Gray. I was in awe of her physique. I remember wondering why she didn't have her pro card. All this time later, I still wonder why she doesn't, because she should, and she will. Sherri has a great physique, highlighted by amazing shoulders, but there is more to her. She is also very hard working and dedicated, willing to give advice, and very few people I have met, appreciate support as much as she does. Sherri Gray is a perfect example of why I love this sport.

Q: Can you just talk about how you got started competing?
A: I started competing about five years ago. I was really just in the gym working out on a consistent basis. I had people come and approach me and say "Do you compete?" and I said no, I had never competed, thought about it but didn't know what went into it. They said "You should compete and see how you do, see how you like it" and I said "If you don't mind helping me that's fine, cause I don't know what I have to do for diet and things". They decided to help me and I picked my first show, it was four months away. I did that show and placed 4th. I fell in love with the lifestyle, I saw myself change, I liked how I felt when I cleaned up my diet. After that I decided to keep doing it, I was motivated to keep seeing myself change and make improvements. I have always been competitive anyway, all through school and what not. So I had a good drive to keep going.

Q: When you first started training and competing, would you ever have imagined it would get to the point you are now?
A: No, not at all. I thought I would do it one time and be done. But once you start seeing yourself change... it lit a fire in me, pushed me to work harder.

Q: You have a family and full time job. How hard is it to balance all that and still get your workout in?
A: Some days it is more difficult than others, but I am a planner. I will always try and have everything organized to where I have time to fit in everything that is important into my life, so that's what I do. I try not to miss any of the kids games, so that means if I have to be up at 5am to knock out some cardio so I can be home at 8am and go to a soccer game, that's what i do. They are pretty flexible with me as well and let me get done what I need to get done, and I try and get back for all their activities.

Q: You actually started in Figure, was their a specific reason for switching to Bodybuilding?
A: After two shows I went to the judges for feedback, they kept saying I was too muscular and my shoulders were too big. I either needed to tone myself down or switch, they felt being shorter, Bodybuilding would be a better fit for me. I actually enjoy it a lot more, it fits my personality better I think.

Q: I want to go back to the 2010 Arnold's. You finished 2nd, but many felt you could have won. Do you feel 2nd was justified?
A: I will take 2nd at the Arnold's any day. It's all what the judges are looking for. Marina, who won, looked great. I think, in different pictures you get different angles. At one angle I think I looked better and at another she looked better. I think maybe I could have taken 1st but I will settle for 2nd. I was happy with that.

Q: After that you did North Americans and won two 1st place trophies. Till then, was that your biggest accomplishment?
A: I think so. I tightened up a little from the Arnold's and changed a few things up. I felt my conditioning and what I presented was the best I had been. That was a highlight in my career.

Q: This year you did Master's Nationals instead of the Arnold's, was their a reason?
A: I'm trying to get that pro card. I would love to be an IFBB Pro and compete at that level and the Arnold's doesn't give pro cards. It was a great experience and I may do it in the future, but at this point I want to do shows where I can win the overall and get that pro card and advance to the next level.

Q: This year you did North Americans and took 3rd in Masters and 2nd at Middleweight. I felt you looked better there, would you agree?
A: Yes I do agree. We were going for a little fuller look at Master's because we felt that's what they had been rewarding in the past. But, apparently it wasn't what it was. I took the six weeks between shows to tighten up a bit and come down. I felt great at North Americans and felt it was the best I ever looked. I was very happy with my conditioning and overall package.

Q: When you only have six weeks to make changes, do you feel rushed to make them?
A: It depends on how many weeks between shows. Between five and six weeks is plenty of time to make changes, especially if its just tighten up and drop one or two pounds, that's plenty of time if you have your training and diet right.

Q: When you finish 2nd, is it more happy to have 2nd or frustrated to be so close to 1st?
A: Haha, that depends to. If I feel the person who beat me deserved it, I am happy with 2nd. If I feel it was a toss up and luck of the draw, I am disappointed. It's hard to keep a smile when you feel you should have been 1st place.

Q: Any idea when you will compete next?
A: I am looking at next year, I haven't picked a show. I guess they start in July with national shows, so it will be one of those. We will see my progress in the off season and then pick one and focus on my training.

Q: Are there specific improvements you want to make this off season?
A: I am trying to bring my back up, and thickness and width to it and the over all package. I did really well bringing my hamstrings up from last year. My back is my main focus, but I train hard on every part I work so hopefully the overall package will improve.

Q: With the real female bodybuilding fans, you are really popular, does that mean something to you?
A: It does. I love to have people support me, that keeps me motivated to do better. I don't want to disappoint myself or anyone else. Just to have a good fan base means a lot. People who keep up with the sport cause it's popular but yet its not popular. To know you have people who support you and know the mental and physical work, makes you feel good inside.

Q: I was told to specifically ask you what you do for shoulders and delts?
A: Haha, I think i was just genetically blessed with good shoulders, but shoulders are one of my favorite parts to work anyway. I really push myself on that. I do a lot of dumbbell exercises, presses, side laterals, we change things about every week. We may do the same exercise, but in a different order. Right now I am going heavy to build, but later on will do four sets of fifteen. it always includes a press, something for front, for rear, and we take it to fatigue.

Q: Do you have a favorite exercise for them?
A: We do a combo of dumbbells presses with open backs. We superset those two and that will really burn them up and I like that feeling.

Q: I assume in the gym you get a lot of stares, is it easy to block that out?
A: I think I block it out. It is distracting every now and then but I try and stay focused. I have a limited time in the gym so I make the most of it and focus on what I am doing.

Q: Have you watched any of the Physique Division at all?
A: Yes I did. I had a friend compete at North Americans and we watched some of that.

Q: Do you have any opinions on it?
A: I think its a good addition. its still questionable as to what look they want for it. As long as they don't do away with Bodybuilding, I like it. We will see where it goes. Everyone who has won has a different look to them.

Q: You have a new website, do you want to give out the address and tell people whats on there?
A: Sure, its called I try and post workout videos to give an idea of what workouts we do, I am going to try and start doing an exercise each month that's different from your typical workout. I have a store and a few pictures on there and am in the process of adding more, online nutrition, online workouts, pre-contest if you are interested in competing, a blog so everyone knows where I am at and so you can get to know me. It's a work in process and the web designer has done a great job with it. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have new videos.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: My family, my husband John, my kids. My training partner Cord, Mike Davies Fitness Factory, my friends, other competitors, Amanda Braun who won one of the first Physique pro cards, Max Muscle I love their supplements, Champion Nutrition is a great supporter. I am trying to get a few more sponsors for next year, Tamee Marie sponsored m suit and they were beautiful, Iron Militia, anything. Competing is so expensive, but we love it, its our lifestyle, so anyone who donates or sponsors an athlete, its appreciated. Your site, siouxcountry, anyone who supports the sport. its a close knit family.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spotlight Interview: Sara McMann

Sara McMann came into MMA with a lot of hype, due to her elite level wrestling career, highlighted by winning the Silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. So far she has more than lived up to that hype. Watching Sara fight, you will see she is adapting to the other aspects of the sport very well and continues to improve. With good wins against really capable opponents already, Sara has not scratched the surface of how good she can and will be.

Q: You started wrestling at a young age. What led you in that direction?
A: My older brother wrestled since I was about 3 years old, I started when I was 14. I just kinda grew up around it, going to tournaments to watch him wrestle all my life. So, I hadn't done any sports, so when I decided to do sports, it was the most natural one to me.

Q: Was there one point where you realized you could become as good as you became?
A: No, it was more like a slow progression. I didn't start out saying "I want to be in the Olympic finals" or "I want to be a world champion". It was kind of like slowly resetting my goals. I went and placed top 8 at nationals when I was 16, and I wanted to place higher. Years later I won Nationals and just naturally reset my goals. I wanted to be a World Team member and go to World Championships, then I wanted to win worlds, then I wanted to go to the Olympics. So it really was a natural progression, as the talent and hard work paid off I kept resetting my goals to the highest accomplishment I could.

Q: What was the feeling like winning the Silver at the Olympics?
A: At the time it was completely heart breaking because I wanted the Gold and lost by a point. So I was very close, and at the time felt heart broken, I hadn't reached the goal I wanted to. I have never been a great loser, I am not unsportsmanlike, but when I am off by myself I don't take it with grace. I always pick myself back up and keep working towards my goals. Years later I am much more proud of what I did and the athlete I was, but at the time it was devastating.

Q: What made you decide to go into MMA?
A: I knew I never wanted to wrestle after 2008, and then I decided to have my daughter. As I was pregnant and a little afterwords, I knew I wasn't done with competition. I started with Jiu-Jitsu, which is pretty similar in my eyes. Things that made me successful as a wrestler would make me successful in Jiu-Jitsu. Then someone said "You should do MMA" and I started doing striking and fell in love with striking. If you take wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu and striking then that equals MMA so I started competing in that.

Q: Starting out, because of your wrestling, there was a lot of hype for you. Does that put more pressure on you?
A: No, because I was used to competing under pressure and having high expectations for many years. So I kind of got to the point where I realized pressure is an illusion. You can decide if you allow it to be put on you or not. So coming into MMA no matter what anyone said, I didn't listen and just said "It's a new sport and you are new at it and you don't know how its going to go. So wrestlers have come before and done well and some haven't, and you don't know which you are gonna be. So take it one fight at a time and see how you progress." So I just didn't listen. Most people wished well and had good expectations of me, but I didn't pay attention because before success comes there is a lot of work to be done, so I just buried myself in that work.

Q: Was there one aspect of the sport that was hardest for you to pick up?
A: I think it was getting used to the striking. I didn't mind that the stance was more upright, but it's still harder for me. I can throw and defend a punch and kick. But I can't set people up as well. There is a next step beyond knowing how to do something, knowing when and why to do it. That is something that takes time. I just have to pay my dues and put in the time, and it will come to me. Right now I am very young when it comes to striking and pretty young when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu so I can't really chain things together in combinations yet. I am working hard to do that and expect it to come because I have a good athletic base to build off of.

Q: You turned pro after three amateur fights. How did you know you were ready?
A: Haha, well I didn't really know I was ready, I just couldn't get any amateur fights. It was the next natural step because I couldn't find any amateurs to fight me. It was turn pro or not fight. My manager put it bluntly "people have an easier time getting hit in the face when they get paid for it".

Q: In July you won a unanimous decision against Tonya Evinger. Everyone looks to finish, but does going three rounds with someone like her help you grow as a fighter?
A: Yeah. One of the things that helped me out is, wrestling at this point had gone down to each match was 4 to 6 minutes. I knew how I could hold up for 4 to 6 minutes, but I wasn't sure about the pacing for a 15 minute fight and possibly 25 minute fight. So I was nervous about if I would get tired and run low on fuel because I was used to shorter rounds. I was really happy cause I realized I had enough conditioning to go 15 minutes. That has opened up my game cause now I know I can go hard for 15 minutes.

Q: Your last fight was a win over Raquel Pa'aluhi, overall how satisfied were you with your performance?
A: I definitely have areas that I need to correct. I didn't control her on the ground as well as I would have liked. I let her get her knee on the inside and push me back to the feet. I didn't mind it at the time, but looking back I should have controlled it a little tighter. My striking is coming along, I give myself a B or B+ in my striking, but considering the time I have had formal instruction, that's not a bad grade. But I have areas to improve and look forward to that work cause its a fun sport to do.

Q: Sometimes when talking about the sport, people will say "she is the wrestler". Do you feel people still think of you as just a wrestler and don't respect your other areas?
A: No, because truthfully, sometimes I still feel like a wrestler in the MMA world. I think I still have yet to amateur more as an MMA fighter. I am completely proud of my wrestling background and am still part of the wrestling family. So it doesn't bother me cause wrestling is my first love. When wrestlers write me they say my hands are coming along really well. I don't think people don't respect the rest of my game.

Q: When I talk to people in the media, you are really popular with them and they always say how nice you are. Is that something you make an effort at?
A: Really, I do good interviews cause I can be myself. I really am a nice person, and it's strange I wound up in MMA as my sport because, 95 percent of the time I am a nice person and help people out, I am more like a hippie. But that 5 percent of the time I can be mean. Sports are different from the rest of my personality.

Q: You have recently been here training with Jessica Eye. Whats that been like?
A: It's been an awesome experience. We plan on training together a lot now because her strengths are my weakest area and my strengths are her weakest area. So to round out our games we can use each other. In the short time I was here I learned a lot about myself as a striker and I could feel her wrestling improving after a few practices. She is strong and adaptable. I think we can help each other a lot.

Q: I also interviewed her today and she said she thinks you fly under the radar and should be with Bellator or Strikeforce, what does that mean for another fighter to say?
A: Its a huge compliment. She has excellent coaches and training partners and knows a lot. So its a huge compliment. I will be in Bellator or Strikeforce. I just want more experience so when i am there I am more complete. I don't want to have a weakness in my game. Another top level fighter saying it is a big compliment.

Q: Do you feel sometimes females rush it and step up to Bellator or Strikeforce to early?
A: Sometimes I think, you don't want to miss your opportunity so if they call you, you wanna say yes. It's hard to tell if you are at that level. That's what I love about wrestling, nobody tells you, if you go to tournaments and are good enough to go to the finals, you make the finals or else are on the backside. That's the way it goes, natural selection process. Sometimes girls think they are ready and make one error and it can cost them the fight. It isn't to early, its just hard to know how you math-up with girls that level.

Q: Any idea whats next for you?
A: I am not sure. I have two more fights with Pro Elite and some others have talked with my manager. I don't have a lack of promotions trying to get me fights, its just whether the timing is right and the opponent is right. Monte Cox is my manager and he basically is choosing my opponents for me, promotions and price. I might have a great match but if the promotion is only gonna pay 500/500 then he is like "No, she is a high level fighter and a tough opponent, and we won't do it for that price". He watches out for me really well.

Q: Before we finish anyone you want to thank?
A: I want to thank my boyfriend Trent Goodale who helps me out in the wrestling aspects of fighting, Cody Freeland, my striking coach and my Jiu-Jitsu coach Jimmy Fowler. And I want to thank Strong Style MMA for having me here. They are awesome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NAAFS Combat Challenge 15 Report

September 10th NAAFS held Combat Challenge 15. The under card was loaded with young fighters in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd fight for the most part. While some of the fighters seemed to have cardio problems, for the most part, it was entertaining with some nice finishes. The three main fights were all really good fights with some really talented fighters. A card like this is good cause it gives you a mixture of fighters trying to prove themselves and fights with fighters who have already proven themselves.

1. Amateur Welterweight
John Star (0-0 Bullpen) vs Louis Wiggins (1-2 VIP D-Boyz)

RD 1: Jab and hook by Wiggins. Nice takedown by Star. Star gets the mount. Wiggins lands two shots from the bottom. Star starts landing several hard shots and then does a great job getting an armbar for the tap.

Result: John Star by Tapout (Armbar) at 1:09 of Round 1

2. Amateur Featherweight
Jason Alexander (0-0 Non-Stop MMA) vs Corey Simmons (2-0 VIP D-Boyz)

RD 1: Slam and takedown by Alexander. Alexander gets side control. Simmons pulls guard. Body shots by Alexander. Alexander stands and then drops back into side control, then he gets mount. Alexander throwing shots from the mount. Alexander gets his back and looks for the choke, but Simmons is defending well. Now Alexander is back to the mount and landing shots. Alexander lands two hard shots to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Alexander

RD 2: Leg kick by Simmons. A slam by Alexander who picks him up and slams him again. Alexander gets side control but Simmons is able to get half guard. Alexander stands and drops back into guard. The ref stands them up. They clinch on the cage and Simmons lands a punch to the body. Simmons hooks a guillotine and drops down. Alexander pulls his head out as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Alexander

RD 3: Hard uppercut by Simmons. Takedown by Alexander, but Simmons is right back up. Alexander shoots in and gets a takedown landing in guard. Not much action here. The ref stands them up. Hard cross by Simmons. Alexander shoots but eats punches. He shoots again and gets the takedown. Simmons is landing from the bottom.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Simmons
My score card: 29-29 Alexander

Result: Jason Alexander by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

3. Amateur Lightweight
P.J. Palmer (0-0 Uniontown Fight Club) vs Keifer Roberts (0-0 Independent)

RD 1: Roberts shoots but can't get the takedown. Both throw wild shots. Palmer gets a takedown and gets his back. Now he has side control. Palmer lands body shots. Palmer gets his back and lands more body shots. Now landing even harder shots. Palmer pulls Roberts head back and lands head shots till Roberts taps.

Result: P.J. Palmer by Tapout (strikes) at 1:50 of Round 1

4. Amateur Flyweight
Donnie Ballou (2-2 Genocide MMA) vs Jordan Gonzales (1-0 VIP D-Boyz)

RD 1: Both throw and miss punches. They clinch and move to the cage. Gonzales lands a knee low but the ref misses it. Takedown by Ballou but Gonzales gets back up. Ballou takes him down again and gets his back. Ballou is looking for the rear naked and trying hard for it but Gonzales defends it well. Gonzales gets up but Ballou still has his back. Nice throw by Ballou but Gonzales gets on top. Ballou looks for a triangle as the round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Ballou

RD 2: Leg kick by Gonzales. Body kick by Gonzales. Nice hook by Gonzales. Gonzales takes him down and tries to get his back. Ballou gets up. Hook by Gonzales. Ballou gets a takedown. Punch by Ballou. Ballou gets side control. Gonzales tries for an armbar. Gonzales is able to get on top and into side control. Gonzales lands punches. Ballou sweeps to get on top. Gonzales tries for an arm. Ballou stands up as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Gonzales

RD 3: Leg kick by Gonzales. Two punches by Ballou. Ballou gets a takedown. Gonzales tries for an arm but Ballou pulls it out. He tries for it again but can't get it. Ballou moves to north south position and then side control. Ballou lands a body shot. Gonzales defends well on the bottom. Two punches to the head by Ballou. The ref stands them. They clinch on the cage and Ballou gets a takedown.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Ballou
My score card: 29-28 Ballou

Result: Donnie Ballou by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)

5. Amateur Light Heavyweight
Luke Gray (0-0 Independent) vs Nick Halkides (0-0 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Cross by Halkides. Both land hard hooks. Jab by Halkides. Halkides lands a kick ow stopping the action. They resume and Halkides lands a hard hook to drop Gray. He lands ground and pound till the ref stops it.

Result: Nick Halkides by TKO at 1:26 of Round 1

6. Amateur Bantamweight
Victor Angulo (0-0 Dragons Den) vs Yousef Abdel-Salam (1-0 Independent)

RD 1: Cross by Abdel-Salam. Abdel-Salam lands a few punches. Angulo shoots but gets stuffed. More hard punches by Abdel-Salam. Angulo gets a takedown but Abdel-Salam is right back up. Leg kick by Angulo. Abdel-Salam lands more punches against the cage. Now he lands body shots. More hard head shots by Abdel-Salam. Angulo gets a takedown but Abdel-Salam is up quick. They clinch against the cage and Angulo lands a knee. They separate and Abdel-Salam lands more punches. Abdel-Salam gets a takedown and lands two head shots.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Abdel-Salam

RD 2: Leg kick and a jab by Abdel-Salam. Leg kick by Angulo. Leg kick and a jab by Abdel-Salam. Two punches by Abdel-Salam. Abdel-Salam takes him down and gets his back. He lands punches to the head. He gets one hook in and lands more punches. He keeps landing till the ref stops it.

Result: Yousef Abdel-Salam by TKO at 1:48 of Round 2

7. Amateur Middleweight
A.J. Simeth (0-1 Bullpen) vs Andre Jones (1-0 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Clinch against the cage. Takedown by Simeth. Simeth stands and drops into side control. He gets his back but is too high and Jones is able to get on top. Simeth has a tight armbar but Jones does a nice job getting out. They stand and clinch against the cage. Simeth is trying for and gets a single leg takedown. In half guard Simeth lands body shots. The ref stands them. Kick to the body by Jones.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Simeth

RD 2: Hard hook by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth tries for a takedown but can't get it. He is still trying hard to get the takedown and then picks him up and slams him landing in half guard. Simeth gets the mount and then his back, but Jones defends well.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Simeth

RD 3: Leg kick by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth looks for the double leg. Body shots by Jones. Simeth is still trying to the takedown. Head shots by Jones. The ref separates them. They clinch against the cage and Simeth again tries for a takedown. The ref separates them. Knee to the body by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth again tries for a takedown. Jones lands body shots to close it.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Jones
My score card: 29-28 Simeth

Result: A.J. Simeth by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

8. Amateur Lightweight
Adam Bosley (2-2 Uniontown Fight Club) vs Marvin Rolles (2-3 Team Plainland)

RD 1: Rolles charges in and they clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by Rolles. Knee to the body by Rolles. Foot stomp by Bosley. Bosley gets a takedown. Bosley is in half guard and lands short shots to the head. Now he lands harder shots to the head till the ref stops it.

Result: Adam Bosley by TKO at 2:50 of Round 1

9. Amateur Welterweight
Josh Krizan (2-0 Independent) vs Nate Davies (1-0 Instigator)

RD 1: Takedown by Krizan and they get right up. They trade hard shots. Hard hook by Krizan. Takedown by Davies. Davies looks for a D'arce choke. They stand. Hard body shots by Krizan. They clinch on the cage and Davies lands a nice hook. Krizan gets a takedown. Nice punch from the top by Krizan. Davies looks for a triangle at the end of the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Krizan

RD 2: They trade hard shots. Leg kick by Krizan. Two hard hooks to the body by Krizan. Three punch combo by Krizan. They clinch on the cage. Body shots by Krizan. A hook by Davies. They trade hard punches. Hard hook by Davies hurts Krizan, but Krizan then lands one of his own. Knee to the body by Davies. Hook to the body by Krizan.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Krizan

RD 3: Kick to the body by Davies. Hook to the body by Krizan. Takedown by Krizan. Action stalls. Nice sweep by Davies to get on top. Davies is in north south position. They stand. Both land jabs. Knee to the body by Davies and then a hard hook. Hook to the body by Krizan. Takedown by Krizan.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Davies
My score card: 29-28 Krizan

Result: Josh Krizan by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)

10. Amateur Welterweight
Reggie Merriweather (6-4 Genocide MMA) vs Chris Melillo (6-6 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Takedown by Melillo. Hard body shots by Melillo. Melillo pushes him to the cage and lands more body shots. Merriweather holds him close. More body shots by Melillo. Punch to the head and then the body by Melillo. The ref stands them. Spinning back fist by Melillo. Merriweather lands a couple shots to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Melillo

RD 2: They trade hooks and then clinch. They move to the cage. Melillo gets a takedown but Merriweather lands on top. Merriweather gets mount and lands shots to the head. Melillo rolls and gets his back but Merriweather gets back on top and lands punches.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Merriweather

RD 3: Leg kick by Melillo. Hook by Merriweather. Merriweather lands hard punches. Melillo drops for a takedown but can't finish it. hard punches by Merriweather and he brings him down and lands in guard. The ref stands them. Hook by Merriweather. They go down and Merriweather lands hard shots. Merriweather stands and lands punches.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Merriweather
My score card: 29-28 Merriweather

Result: Reggie Merriweather by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

11. Amateur Bantamweight
Kyle Pettit (4-1 Fighters United) vs Tyler Saltsman (5-2 Team Titan)

RD 1: Leg kick by Pettit. Saltsman picks him up and slams him. Saltsman looks for a choke. Knees to the body by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kicks the legs of a downed Pettit. Saltsman lets him up. Leg kick by Pettit. Slam by Saltsman but Pettit is up quick. They clinch on the cage and Pettit lands a knee to the body. Jab by Pettit. Saltsman catches a kick and takes him down. Hard punches by Saltsman.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Saltsman

RD 2: Cross by Pettit. Pettit gets a takedown but Saltsman is on top. head shots by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kick Pettit's legs. Saltsman drops back down in half guard. Head shots by Saltsman. Saltsman lets him up. Leg kick by Pettit and another. Cross by Saltsman. Takedown by Saltsman. Saltsman gets side control and lands head shots.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Saltsman

RD 3: Leg kick by Saltsman. Saltsman goes for a single leg and gets it. Knee to the body by Saltsman and then another. Head shots by Saltsman. Punches to the body by Saltsman. More shots to the head and body by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kicks the legs of Pettit. Saltsman drops back down. They stand and Saltsman lands a leg kick.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Saltsman
My score card: 30-27 Saltsman

Result: Tyler Saltsman by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

Submission of the Night: John Star

KO of the Night: Yousef Abdel-Salam

Fight of the Night: Josh Krizan vs Nate Davies

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Diane's Diary by Diane Mueller

Out of tragedy, comes hope. With hope, comes an opportunity for a new beginning. Sometimes it takes a massive devastation to rally a spirit of camaraderie and purpose. Most memories of September 11th are filled with anger, sorrow and reflection; that same date has also become a day filled with new hope and new beginnings. We shall never forget the dreadful events of the day, and it is with great pride that Americans use the date to honor our past, while introducing newfound prosperity and opportunities.

I am so proud to announce that this date, September 11th, 2011, marks the one year anniversary of a company I have grown to love, respect and represent. That company being: On this date, one year ago, Aram Choe took a leap of faith by investing his personal time, money and effort into an initiative that he hoped and prayed would bring bounty for his family, while paying tribute to all of America’s heroes; past, present and future. “Nutritional Supplements for America’s Heroes,” is more than just a slogan to Aram Choe; it is the foundation of his deep seeded beliefs. With a passion for the strength and fitness industry, Aram made it his own personal mission to provide the highest quality supplements at the lowest prices for the members of our nation’s military and homeland service members, such as, law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel. Aram’s pledge was simple and direct: To make supplements affordable for our men and women of public service, who have high stress and high risk jobs so they are able to be in the physical condition the public needs them to be in, during these tough times of economic challenges. Money shouldn’t be the reason our heroes, who risk their lives on a daily basis, can’t afford to purchase their supplements which allow them to get into the best shape of their lives. “You commit yourselves to giving your best everyday... Isn't it time someone does the same for you?” ~ Aram Choe via the 911Strong website.
Being a man of great faith, Aram proudly promotes his company being anchored by integrity, morals, and Godly principles, as the foundation for success. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

September 11, 2001 is a date that sits at the forefront of every American’s mind. American’s everywhere recognize this date as the day of the most devastating terror attack to occur on American soil. The incident was one of those historic events where everyone can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks on the twin towers. People sat paralyzed for hours in front of their televisions watching the terror unfold, fearful of what may come next. It’s the fear of the unknown, of not knowing whether the attacks were over or if there were still more to come, that resonates so deeply within us and causes that feeling of helplessness. We felt helpless and numb as we watched the aftermath of this great tragedy. Out of the ashes, our nation united. We stood united in mourning and in prayer. We prayed desperately for the souls of the individuals who lost their lives. We prayed for those who were still trapped, awaiting rescue. We prayed for strength and perseverance of the rescue workers to bring as many victims as possible, as well as themselves, to safety. We prayed for the families and friends of those whose lives were to be forever changed due to the unforeseen events of the day. United we stand, divided we fall. With great pride, we rose up and met the challenges of that day. We continued to press forward making progress day by day. We were united under the motto: Never Forget.

The events of September 11th have left a permanent scar on the psyche of every American citizen capable of comprehending the magnitude of the tragic events of the day; and Aram Choe is no different. Being a faithful man, Aram has devoted his life to serving his community, his family, and God. Being raised in a military family, Aram felt destined to follow the same path as his grandfather, father and uncles before him. They all proudly served in the United States Army, and his grandfather went so far as to become an investigator for the Criminal Investigations Detachment within the Army. Also being a respectful man, Aram heeded the advice of his grandfather and father when they advised him to attend college and earn a degree before enlisting in the Army, as life within the Army can be relatively rough if you’re not an officer. By enrolling after having a college degree, he could finish boot camp with the rank of 1st Lieutenant, which would also make him the first U.S. Army officer within the family. This concept brought a great sense of pride for Aram, and his mind was set, off to Cal State University – L.A. it was after high school graduation. It was during his fraternity days with Sigma Alpha Epsilon at CSULA that Aram was introduced to the concept of a career in law enforcement and his intentions quickly turned from a career in the U.S. Army to an equally honorable career as a police officer.

Aram’s law enforcement career began with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department where he enjoyed his five year tenure, however, he felt limited in his community service abilities. He had a desire to make a greater impact in one community, rather than being spread across an entire county. Holding fast to his faith, Aram did as he always does when he comes to a crossroad in life, he prayed. He prayed for God to guide him to the department where his talents and interests would be best utilized to carry out His will. This led Aram to the El Monte Police Department, the 7th largest city in L.A. County, known for its tough streets and Hispanic gang culture. He quickly moved up the ranks within El Monte PD, due to the gang experience he had gained during his time with the Sheriff’s Department. He was promoted to Gang Specialist, Community Relations Officer, Detective, and is currently a Corporal within the Detectives Bureau, making him the front line supervisor in a very busy division. He is currently up for another promotion, this time for a Sergeant’s position, which by the grace of God, he will hopefully achieve by the end of the year.

To say Aram’s life has been blessed by God is certainly an understatement. Because he has been a faithful servant to God he enjoys good health, has a wonderful wife and family, and has a career that he loves. By following the dreams that God has placed in his heart and mind, he was brave enough to throw caution into the wind by opening an online supplement company, which has continuously grown month after month. Being a shrewd businessman, Aram has taken advantage of using facebook for the bulk of his marketing, rather than purchasing expensive advertisements in magazines, which helps keep his overhead costs to a minimum, and he passes those savings on to the consumer. He also has the support of a select few athletes, his “Sponsored Athletes,” who believe in Aram, his principles, the company, and the cause itself. These athletes proudly represent the brand and promote the company to the best of their abilities to help it to continue to grow at record pace.

Nobody reaches the top without some help along the way, and Aram is no different. When he first began this quest, he had troubles getting started. He would call supplement manufacturers to try to purchase the products at wholesale cost, but they turned him away, telling him he had to purchase from the distributors like everyone else does. By cutting out the middleman he could keep his prices low, which was the original concept behind creating this business in the first place, to be able to sell the best products at the lowest prices. Along the way, Aram had struck a friendship with Joshua B. Smith, owner of a supplement company called NRG-X Labs. Joshua and Aram struck a quick friendship as they both have a strong Christian background and both support public service. Joshua kindly allowed Aram to purchase his products from him direct, so Aram began selling NRG-X products exclusively. Perhaps it was divine intervention, but shortly after 911Strong was up and running, the same manufacturers who originally turned Aram down in his previous requests to purchase from them direct, were now calling him trying to get in on this new niche in the supplement sales market. People higher in command than the people Aram had been dealing with all saw Aram’s vision, and couldn’t believe that the public service niche had gone completely unnoticed and untapped this entire time. They were more than happy to invest in, and Aram’s vision had become a reality.

Because of the quick success Aram has enjoyed with, other companies have accused him of cheating in order to get ahead. Being a man of such deep faith, I assure you, the words Aram and Cheat are not synonymous. It is not in his genetic make up to cheat. As a matter of fact, Aram believes in Honor, Integrity and God so much that he is one of only a few businesses not afraid to claim those attributes on his website under the “About Us” section. Instead of cheating, Aram does what most companies won’t do, and that is: relying on his people skills to create relationships with people in the industry. Joshua Smith introduced Aram to the man who has become Aram’s best friend that he’s never met, Michael Marcanio, owner and CEO of Big Rig Supplements. Michael was a retailer just like Aram when they first met, but Michael had been in business for a while and was able to teach Aram the ropes and helped him through some growing pains with the business. To Michael’s success, he has turned his retail shop into a Brand Name and has marketed two products that are quickly becoming household names: Body Ignition and N.O. Xhaust. Because they shared the same morals and principles, Aram believed in Michael as a person and as a business owner, so he invested in his products and 911Strong quickly became the #1 retailer in North America of both of those products.

As the America prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001, is preparing to celebrate its one year anniversary of successful business in the supplement sales industry. Aram’s life has been a whirlwind of activity this past year with the creation of, while continuing to work his police job with the El Monte Police Department, and having a family which includes 3 young children to take care of. Aram continues to live his life and run his company, with his Christian morals and values in tact. His 911Strong facebook fan page is less than 300 fans short of reaching his goal of 1,000. Aram considers himself truly blessed to be able to say he has turned the idea of developing a company dedicated to America’s heroes and the supporters of this great nation, into a thriving business and the future looks bright ahead for There are no signs of depression or recession for this company, 911Strong is moving upwards!!

It has been an absolute honor for me to be one of the fortunate few who have had the privilege of calling themselves a sponsored athlete. During the time that I have had the opportunity to know Aram, both as a person and as a boss, I have continually been impressed by his passion and his integrity. I will never forget the conversation we had one day when I was thanking Aram for standing behind me when my morals were called into question, and he said to me, “I learned a long time ago that integrity is something you have to live, not just believe in.” At that moment, I knew was the perfect company for me to represent. I stand strong behind my morals and principles therefore, having a sponsor whose beliefs and values are equal to mine is a true gift from God. I feel that I was predestined to find Aram and 911Strong, and I also feel there was a divine intervention that my original sponsorship rejection email was sent to my spam folder where I was unable to find it. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~ Isaiah 55:8-9 (King James Version)
God works in mysterious ways and I am forever thankful for God bringing Aram Choe into my life.

As always, thank you to my sponsors: and Big Rig Supplements for your continued support of my personal and my bodybuilding goals. You have opened doors for me that I never dreamed possible. And thank you to my mentor and coach, Jennifer Abrams ( for your guidance and support, and for making me believe that even the sky is NOT the limit.