Thursday, March 28, 2013
Photos 1-3: Dave Mandel/Sherdog
Photos 4-5: Esther Lin/Invicta
After a successful amateur career, there was a lot of hype around Jessamyn Duke, people calling her a future star. So far, with two victories in two pro fights, including most recently an impressive first round submission over Marciea Allen, Duke has lived up to that hype. On April 5th she looks to continue that when she steps back into the Invicta cage to face Miriam Nakamoto.
Q: First, for those who may not be familiar, can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: I came to Richmond, Kentucky with my mom. She told me I need to get out of the house, I need to make friends, I need to do something. She was sick of me sitting at home on the computer all the time. I got on-line and looked for something I had never done before and found kickboxing lessons. I went to the gym and almost immediately became obsessed with training and all the things going on. I had never seen anything like an MMA gym before in my life, I had no idea what it even was. Slowly I started doing all the classes, wrestling, grappling, MMA, all of it. It was an obsession and I got into it. I started competing, first in grappling tournaments, then Muay-Thai fights and then in 2010 I made my amateur MMA debut. The competition and the challenge was unlike anything I had ever done before. I played sports in high school and always ran, my mom is a runner, I always did stuff to stay active but never like the challenges that combat sports did. Normally when I picked up a hobby I did it for two or three months and then get bored. I feel I can do this the rest of my life. There is always a challenge, always something new to work on, something to learn. I just love it all.
Q: You made your pro debut with Invicta, going back to that night, were you any more nervous than your amateur fights?
A: I was only nervous because I knew that Invicta was kind of a big deal. It was a big deal to me to debut for them. I felt pressure but I always put pressure on myself. They say that the most important fight is the one in front of you and that is the case. Even at the amateur level, every fight matters and every win matters. There was more pressure because Invicta was a big deal, but I tried to refocus and realize I have dealt with this my entire career. Invicta was a big deal and so many watching it. My debut was Invicta 2 and I felt it had this standard set on it that Invicta 1 was a fluke and there was no way a second show could be that good. So I felt pressure in that I wanted everyone to see that we could put on an even better show. I knew it would be awesome and that I would put on a good fight. I said in another interview that after my first fight with Invicta, they treat everyone so good and make you feel so welcome and at home. Now I feel comfortable, I don't even feel like I am out of state, they make you so at ease and take good care of you. In the first one there was some pressure but it was because Invicta 1 was so awesome and I wanted Invicta 2 to be better.
Q: There is a lot of hype around you, everyone calls you one of the future stars, does that put pressure on you to live up to that?
A: Not really because I have since early on put that standard on myself that I am going to be the best at this no matter what. I am my own worst critique and am harder on myself than anyone else. It isn't that I don't care what other people think, but it is that I know what standard I hold myself to and it is higher than what others hold me to. My goal is to be the best in the world someday, so every time I fight, I have this pressure on myself. Even when I travel to other gyms with people, I have this extreme pressure on myself to do well and perform well and conduct myself well. I want them to realize I take this serious, it is my life and I want that to show. It is why I have had the success that I have had, cause I hold myself to a high standard, and so does my coach, when I slack he lets me know. Every day I have to live like I am at the top and have to maintain that.
Q: Most recently you beat Marciea Allen by armbar in the first, how happy were you with your performance?
A: Extremely satisfied! A first round finish is always ideal in my opinion. Anytime you can finish a fight in the first round it's a good thing cause there is less time to get hurt and an easier recovery. I love to get finishes, I hate decisions, I hate judges, nothing personal against judges, I just don't like their purpose in the sport. It doesn't feel as good to get a decision win. It is still a win, but the way a finish feels is incredible, I want that feeling, I want that rush. Getting it the way I did, it felt so good. I had been fouled, the ref didn't see it, I took matters into my own hands and to finish it, there is nothing like it. That is always my goal and it is no different this fight.
Q:Do you feel you are ever overlooked due to where you are from? Such as a comment on a message board that someone said they would take a well-rounded fighter from ATT over a fighter with a long reach from Kentucky any day?
A: I remember seeing that comment. I thought it was so funny because for the longest time people have seemed to be surprised I am from Kentucky. I go to Vegas or L.A. and all these places and they say "where you from?", "Kentucky", Kentucky?" and they look at you confused. They ask because you have done something good, you have grappled with them and they are impressed and then they are shocked you are from Kentucky. I don't understand that because MMA is really popular here. There are lots of good schools in this area. My instructors are extremely well trained and it seems silly to judge someone based on their geographical location instead of doing research. MMA is popular in Kentucky, multiple shows every weekend. I am hoping to change that attitude and show people there are some really good fighters here. It is rising constantly here. If they wanna keep thinking that it is fine, I have fought opponents from really good schools and won and held my own. If they like thinking that, it is fine, and one day they will realize Kentucky is pretty fricking good.
Q: You are fighting Miriam Nakamoto, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think she is the toughest opponent I have had yet but I think it is a really good match-up stylistically for me. She is undefeated in Muay-Thai and MMA, she had one fight in MMA. She is pretty tall for a 135 fighter, strong obviously. She is very strong, a dangerous clinch, dangerous knees and elbows. For MMA, the advantage is way more in my favor. I have way more experience in MMA and grappling. I also have a height and reach advantage. Her striking is gonna be a little bit different having to strike with someone who is actually taller than her. I always hear when I fight someone how awkward I am to fight because I am so tall. If you ever train with females you know that they can be extremely strong, just as strong as some males, but strong in a different way. There is a unique thing about training with females. Even if you train with a male my height, he is not gonna feel the same as I would feel. I present unique problems that will be difficult for her to deal with when it comes to close range and the clinch and the ground. As far as the striking goes, I am comfortable striking. I am not afraid of her striking. While she is incredibly good and has lots of titles, I am not afraid to be in that area with her. When I fight, I want to be as dominant as possible, so it makes sense to go to the place she has the least advantage, and that is the ground and in close, so that is where I plan on taking it. Make her play my game. It is a different experience and will show I am more experienced in MMA.
Q: You just touched on it, but the feeling among most is that you will have a huge advantage on the ground, do you expect her to basically do all she can to avoid the ground?
A: I don't think she wants to go to the ground with me, but I don't think she is afraid to get close to me. I think she wants to clinch with me, her knees and elbows are her best tool. In Muay-Thai you cant do takedowns, you can't shoot for doubles. The clinch game is different and the reason I know this is because I went through it, but I did it as an amateur. I wanted to be a striker and fight that way, but it didn't work out because that form of clinching and striking doesn't translate well into MMA when you are fighting someone that wants to get you on the ground. A superior grappler will always get you on the ground unless you are also a superior grappler who can defend that. It is one of those things where I think she will make the mistake of trying to get close to me to hurt me and she will have to make the most of the small opportunity she has before it ends up on the ground.
Q: If it does stay standing for an extended length of time, you are confident correct?
A: Absolutely! She will be shocked. I think her camp severely underestimates my striking. Her is good and she has the belts to prove it, but they underestimate mine. If she can keep it standing, I think it would be a harder fight than she realizes.
Q: You have the experience on this big stage with Invicta, she doesn't, could she be nervous and that give you an advantage?
A: Maybe but maybe not. She has fought internationally and done some big things in Muay-Thai. She has done it for so long and you get numb to it. The only difference is that it is MMA, it is very different, the crowd is different, even just fighting in a cage is different. There may be some of that, but not just because Invicta is a big stage.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: First round finish of some sort. I don't like to call an exact way because I will take the first thing that is there. If I can get a TKO it will be on the ground probably. I will take the first submission I see. Anytime you pass up an opportunity to finish the fight you leave more opportunities for them to recover. It may be a submission or may be a TKO.
Q: With so many fighters who would love to fight for Invicta, what does it mean to you that they keep bringing you back?
A: It is the biggest compliment in the world. You cant put into words what it means to have an organization like them respect me and think so much of me. They asked me to come back for Invicta 4 and I requested not to because I had trained for five fights in 2012, I only got three of them, but had been in camp all year. My body was exhausted and I wanted to focus on growing. They said it was no problem and were so willing to work with me and gave me that needed time. I have changed so much and my game has evolved. It is so nice that they are willing to work with the athletes. It makes me feel good as a fighter and is pretty awesome. It makes me want to put ona good show, that is the best way to repay them and is what I plan on doing.
Q: Before we finish, I wanna talk about someone I have become a fan of and you know her better than anybody. Gina Begley is 3-1 and to anyone with eye-sight she is 4-0, how good can she be?
A: Gina has all the potential in the world and people have no idea. She is freakishly strong and I tell people this and it is like that are not really listening. She gives me problems and I walk around typically out-weighing her by fifteen pounds easy. She gives me serious problems on the ground. She hits me harder than anyone else, she is like "I am not hitting hard" and I say "yes you are, my is black, you hit really hard." She doesn't realize how good she is. Part of our problem is getting her to realize that. Gina is gonna surprise people. She will go pro and shock people. She will go through that underestimating thing I have gone through, but like me, you keep winning and change peoples attitudes.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coach Scott Elliot, my gym AFS Academy, all my teammates, first is Gina, she is my best friend and number one training partner. People say how she is a weight class lower than me, but if they ever train with her, they will know why I have her with me all the time. All the fans for the support. My sponsors have done so much for me, and all the traveling I have done is because they have helped me out and helped me make this a full-time job and I want to show them that. I have gotten my purple belt over the winter and then got my purple belt under Eddie Bravo as well. They are Polanti Watches, VII AD Jewelry, Babes of MMA, Outlaw Fight Gear, Klench Mouthguards, Horsepower Strength and Conditioning, Dr. Taverni, Hype X-Treme, Combatives Gear, Stinson Chiropractic, Intimidation Clothing, A Healing Stone Therapeutic Massage, Brett Atchley and Addison Sports Management. Also thank you, I am a big fan of yours and have been for a long time and it is cool to get to do an interview with you
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Photo 1: Esther Lin/Invicta FC
Photos 2-5: Florida Fighter
Since finally getting to fight in her real weight class, Cassie Rodish has been on a role, including her most recent fight, a victory over Stephanie Frausto. The wins have helped Cassie climb the rankings and prove she belongs in there with the best. On April 5th she returns to the Invicta cage when she faces Simona Soukupova with the goal of continuing the roll she has been on.
Q: Your last fight, you beat Stephanie Frausto, overall, how happy were you with your performance?
A: I was alright with it. I got caught in that hip-toss which was frustrating for me. It was one of the things I had been working on in other fights and I just wasn't expecting it. I am glad I came out and it put me in a good mind-set because I was in a little bit of danger for a second and was able to overcome it and conquer. I am kinda glad it happened and I won. There are a couple things I needed to work on after that fight that I am trying to tie up.
Q: She was getting some deserved attention and hype before the fight, so how big was that win for you?
A: It is good for me because it legitimizes me. Before, I had fought people who had names, but I lose so you really don't look at me. Even if they are three round decisions, unless you are winning, no one thinks about you. You are only as good as your last fight. It was good for me to have her name and have a good performance.
Q: The win moved you up in the rankings and you started getting some of that attention, how do you keep that from going to your head?
A: I don't pay attention to any of that, anybodies hype because I have had losses and people can turn on you pretty quick in this business. They like you when you win and if you have one performance that isn't what they want, they might not like you again for awhile. I understand a fight is a fight and everyone has a fifty/fifty chance when they door closes. I do the best I can do and as long as I do me, that is all I can ask for.
Q: You are finally getting fights at the right weight class for you, for people who may not be familiar or understand, how important is that?
A: I think it is very important for you to find your correct weight class. You can't perform to your highest level unless it is a fair competition. When you go up in class, people are stronger, have extra body mass, height and reach is different, it is a really big deal. Even at 115 my performances are kind of lack luster. When I go to 105, you are fighting people your own size. It makes for better fights. When you have lopsided fights like that, those don't make the best of fights.
Q: Knowing how many people want to get on an Invicta card, what does it mean to you to be brought back for a third time?
A: Obviously I am very grateful to Invicta. For me and for everything they have done for women's MMA. They care about the women. It is not always about great ratings and a great show, it is that plus wanting to make sure the fighters are taken care of and comfortable and doing what we need to do to put on those performances. Invicta gets that it is the fighters who make the show, not the show that makes the fighter. They take care of us and in return you see how awesome Invicta is getting. I am just grateful to be on the show.
Q: Originally you were fighting Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc, but now it is Simona Soukupova, was the change early enough for you that it doesn't affect your training?
A: Yeah, it doesn't matter if it was a day before. It's a fight, this is Mixed Martial Arts so I am always training everything. Even though Nicdali was a wrestler and I believe she would want to go to the ground right away, it doesn't mean I wasn't working my stand-up or my takedowns. I am always trying to improve my game. I still need to be me and do what I do as a fighter. I still need to be progressing cause once this fight is over I still have how many fights ahead of me? I am always evolving and always working on Mixed Martial Arts as a whole and not just focusing on one opponent.
Q: How do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think pretty good. She likes to strike, I like to strike. She seems to like to get into brawls, she throws a lot. I don't really know what her takedown and takedown defense is. I don't mind being on the ground, I don't think anyone has seen me at my most dangerous yet, I haven't been put on my back a lot, that is where I am most dangerous. I feel like I could dictate the pace and what she is good at, I am able to be just as good at and implement my game-plan.
Q: Her losses are both by decision. Does that give you any incentive to be the first to stop her or does that not play into your thought process?
A: No, that doesn't play into my thought process. I know she is hard-nosed, she is down to fight. People say she is strong and tough and coming forward, and that is what I am. I think it will be fireworks, two fighters who don't mind hitting and getting hit. I would like an early round but I am ready for three rounds.
Q: You don't get to train much with females, so how helpful has it been to train this camp with people like Barb Honchak and Sarah Maloy?
A: It was huge for me. I think you can sometimes get in a lull at your gym. You know the pace and what will happen. Stepping outside of that you can really push yourself, you can get outside your comfort zone. Everyone rolls different, everyone fights different, so seeing different things is really good for the fight. I got renewed, I got to see awesome women training their butts off. It was cool, it made me excited and amped up.
Q: You have that big stage experience with Invicta, does that give you any advantage, maybe her being nervous?
A: I don't know about that. I think every fight you have nerves and if not, then you don't care enough to be in the cage. She has been around the world, fought other people, she fought Felice Herrig and I am sure it is a media madhouse to fight her. I think we will be equal on that. A fight is a fight, I don't think I will win cause I fought on another Invicta. Cameras and hype doesn't mean anything when you are punching each other.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I would really like to not go three rounds, that is always best. I would like a ref stoppage I guess. I don't think she will get knocked out cause she is tough, but I would like to submit her or get a ref stoppage.
Q: Any idea what you want after this?
A: I wanna keep fighting. I love this pace of training for a fight every couple months. I don't wanna have this waiting a year for a fight. I wanna stay fresh. I feel I am really in a good mental and physical state, I would hate to have to take time off. I would like to be back in the next card or the one after that.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Brett Atchley and Addison Sports Management, my coaches and teammates at Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu, Crossfit 515, Polanti Watches, VII AD, Klench Mouth Guards, Dr. Taverni, Combatives Gear, Fight Soap, Cardio Force, and Throat Punch.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Q: You are on an island with Snooki, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, Hulk Hogan, Justin Beiber and a mime, who do you vote off first?
A: Dr. Phil, but I'd probably push him off
Q: Who do you vote off last?
A: Hulk Hogan of course!
Q: You are alone on that island, what four items do you need?
A: Items?I'm a simple girl, I don't need much. I assume my dogs don't count....Cell (let's say I'll have wifi), someone who can hunt/fish cause I can't and my best friends would make my island perfect!
Q: If you could have the body part of another person, who and what would it be?
A: Juliana Malacarne's legs..DAYUM!
Q: The best part of competing is?
A: The entire journey is what makes it so special. From the off season through stepping on stage. Seeing my body transform in ways that I never thought possible, pushing myself mentally and physically in ways that I couldn't have imagined and the rewarding sense of accomplishment that is indescribable.
Q: If a restaurant made a sandwich called the "Nicole Gray", what five items would be on it?
A: It would be a dessert "sandwich"...Brownies (the bread if you will), Peanut butter-filled pretzels mixed with ice cream, nuts and warm caramel and chocolate fudge. That would be one hell of a sandwich.
Q: Muscles on a woman is?
Q: What would the move of your life be called and who would play you?
A: This is by far the hardest question...You've stumped me here lol As far as title.."Crazy/Beautiful"..sums up my journey, it's been a crazy one lots of ups and down but at the end of the day, it's a beautiful ride. The actress would be a little combo of Uma Thurman (think Kill Bill) but with the wit and attitude of Ellen Page from Juno...Both ladies a little bit of a smart ass, hard shell but a passionate heart.
Q: What is the worst movie you ever saw?
A: Wow, I've watched a ton of bad movies hard to pick the worst...Probably Twilight. That shit was BAD!
Q: Better filling of topping for a candy bar, chocolate, peanut butter, caramel or something fruit flavored?
A: Peanut butter...chunky and hell, add a little caramel on there too
Q: If real men wear black, what do real women wear?
A: Whatever the fuck they want :)
Q: Favorite exercise?
A: Deadlifts..without question.
Q: Best flavor Popsicle?
A: Does a fudgesicle count?
Q: Have you ever played an entire game of Monopoly?
A: I don't recall ever finishing, but I can tell you I am TERRIBLE at Monopoly.
Q: On average, how many times a day to you pose in a mirror?
A: Just a mirror? I pose in ANYTHING that I can see my reflection in. The leaner I am, the more often I do it lol
Q: Supplement you cant live without?
A: Champion Nutrition Chocolate PB and Cookies & Cream Whey...Makes my Greek yogurt dessert every night! NOMZ!
Q: Creepiest or funniest comment, compliment or pick-up line you ever got?
A: I would say "lame" comments pretty much sum it up. Anything covering me being stronger than a guy, or bigger than a guy or wanting to wrestle etc. No, I have ZERO interest in arm wrestling or choking a dude so let's save us all the time..please and thank you :)
Q: Have you ever got jiggy with it?
A: When I have not would be a better question. (and yes, now I'm singing lol)
Q: If they made a horror movie using fitness industry people, who would play the psycho killer, the naive non-believer, the guy who tries to save the day but keeps messing up and the girl who eventually defeats the killer?
A: The killer: Branch Warren, he looks a little unhinged lol; The non-believer: Nicole Wilkins, she seems really sweet; Guy who tries to save the day: Phil Heath, he tries to be the good guy, the hero and the bad ass chick who steps up and wrecks shit is Alina Popa...no explanation necessary.
Q: Why are the Kardashian's famous?
A: Hell if I know! I cannot for the life of me figure out why society cares about these people and what they do or what they wear etc.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Photo 1: Samantha Hill Photography
Photos 2-4: RX Muscle
Photo 5: Mike Eckstut/ Her Biceps
Jill Rudison achieved her goal of winning her pro card at North Americans. Now with physique being added to the Olympia, Jill's next goal is to be on the Olympia stage. In her last interview she said she was on a mission to improve her legs and glutes, and says she has accomplished that. An improved Jill Rudison is definitely a legitimate Olympia contender.
Q: It hasn't been a real long time, but has it really sunk in that you are a pro now?
A: Yes! I think it really started getting real when I started prepping and the countdown. It was the wake-up call. It made me more excited to start prep.
Q: Has it made you work harder in the sense that you feel it is something you have to live up to?
A: Yes, I would say turning pro has definitely made me work harder because it took me so long to get that pro card. You want the pro card and look up to so many people that have it. You admire them for different physical features or attributes that they have. So now, to be like "these are the girls I get to share the stage with" has made me work harder. Now I am not admiring them from the audience, I am actually standing alongside them vying for the same victory. It gives you the ability to have more self encouragement. I wanna live up to my own hype, be all that and a bag of chips. I don't wanna feel like I didn't do something I could have done to improve myself.
Q: Do you feel it has given you more responsibility as far as how you interact with fans and things?
A: I think being a professional in this sport, once you go pro, it is almost like you pass through this invisible gate where you have almost a moral obligation to be aware of fans and supporters and be more attentive to them. They are the same people who cheered you on from the beginning and it has been a big help getting me where I am now. As outgoing as I am, I am also very introverted, so for me it is sometimes difficult to go out knowing that you have eyes on you or people are scrutinizing you more than they used to. You cant blend in or hide. To be in this position, you should be open and welcoming to fans and supporters, people who have questions or want to pick your brain. Everybody has their favorite athletes and heroes and you never know if you might be that person to somebody. It is important to further the awareness of the sport and fandom, to build it, it is still a new category. Everything we do the next couple years is gonna shape the division.
Q: What is the best thing about being a pro?
A: I think it's the possibilities that I have available to me now. That I could qualify to go to the Olympia this year. That is huge because before it was just a dream. It still is a dream but now because I am a pro, it is a valid possibility, it could happen. That makes it a lot cooler. This are closer to reality. It is baby steps and I am getting there.
Q: When are you making your pro debut?
A: I will be making my pro debut three weeks from tomorrow at Jon Lindsay's Muscle Contest Grand Prix in Culver City. Like five miles from my house.
Q: Last time we did this you said you were on a continual mission to improve your legs and glutes, have you furthered that mission?
A: Since the last time we spoke, yes I feel I have accomplished my mission of improving my legs and glutes. My glutes have made leaps and bounds. For a long time I had white girl no-ass-at-all syndrome. Thankfully with a lot of plyos and kickbacks and curtsy lunges and squats and walking lunges, my glutes and hamstrings I feel have made big improvements.
Q: Do you expect to be more nervous to get on a pro stage than in the past?
A: Yes! I expect to be more nervous than in a very long time. As much as everything is exactly the same, this is the first time, it will be different. I feel like I will be super excited but it is like a born-again situation, like where I have done it before but it has been awhile so let's see if I can ride this bike. I read a great quote today that says "things never happen the same way twice." While I have done it before, it is completely different. I am really excited to make my pro debut and will be more excited to get past it. It will be under my belt and the Orlando show is gonna be hot on its heels and that nervousness will be out of my system.
Q: Is there anyone you look forward to sharing a pro stage with?
A: A lot of girls. Pretty much all the girls. I am excited to share a stage with Karina Nascimento, I am a big fan of hers, Jillian Reville and I are friends and is will be exciting to share a stage with her, Toni West, I am a big fan of her physique, Patricia Mello, Juliana Malacarne, there are so many women I am excited. It's like "wow, I actually get to stand up here next to you guys, this is cool." I am gonna totally geek out.
Q: Stage presence is really important. A lot of people try and get the judges attention, but you have this look like you are demanding the judges to look at you. Is that something you work on, does it come natural or do you not even realize it?
A: Until you said it I didn't even realize I command attention rather than ask for it. I am stoked to know that is what I do. I guess it just comes naturally. I am a Leo, I am an attention whore, I like to be on stage an perform. I am textbook Leo. If you get me warmed-up, I will never shut up and never leave the stage. I am nervous till that point. I didn't realize I did that but it is awesome. For the two or three minutes I am on stage, you are stuck listening to my music, stuck watching me, stuck watching my routine, so you better enjoy it.
Q: Early on a lot of people weren't sure what the judges wanted for physique, do you think competitors are getting a better idea?
A: I still think there is some question-ability as to what exactly they are looking for. With anything, when it starts out, you have to dial it in and draw up a formula that works. You are seeing more consistency now. At first it was described as figure with muscle, it wasn't even a step down from bodybuilding, just figure with muscle. For awhile the bigger girls wouldn't do so well and everyone would scratch their heads going "wait a minute, you said this was figure with muscles so why are we getting slapped on the wrist for having muscles?" Then people started to get down to much and in recent months like at Nationals and me at North Americans, you saw the bigger girls show up and get their pro card. I don't know if it was just those particular shows cause they are known for liking a little more muscle on you or this is the direction we are going. They are starting to figure out the look. The whole question was if it was a step down from bodybuilding or step up from figure and I think now we have some amazing pros that have amazing symmetry, amazing stage presence, beautiful women who represent the sport and division. The organization might not know what is is looking for yet but when it gets on stage, they know it when they see it. So far that seems to be what is driving it. It is working so far.
Q: Safe to say the Olympia is the goal?
A: That would be the goal for this year. The real goal is win the Olympia, but the step down goal is just to compete. Winning is the big bonus goal.
Q: What is the strangest or funniest comment or remark you have heard when someone saw your physique?
A: Jason, I get creepy emails daily. I could do a pick of the day. The weirdest, which coincidentally a couple of my friends have gotten from this gentleman as well, so as special as I felt, it made me feel less special. I got an email email from this guy Juwan, whose mother works at Wall-Mart and he gets Wall-Mart gift cards. He wanted me to describe what it would be like to fart on his mother. I kid you not. I posted it on Twitter cause I thought no one would believe me. Granted, he is a sweet kid, but obviously he knows what he likes. That was probably the strangest and a couple bodybuilder friends have gotten it from him as well.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coach and trainer, the amazing Chris Cormier. He is awesome, he is my friend, my coach, he drives me crazy sometimes, but he always has my best interest at heart and takes care of me in this crazy industry. Also a shout out to my friend Brad Rowe who does my food prep. His company is Proformance Food. He is amazing. Thanks to family and friends who put up with my crappy attitude during prep. Thanks so a special person who has always been my biggest supporter, he knows who he is.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
After starting out in bikini, Jamie Pinder made the switch to physique in 2012. In her first show, the NPC New England Championships, she took first, in her second show at Nationals, she walked away with her IFBB Pro card, an accomplishment she did not see happening so quickly, even though others did. A sign of the competitor and person Jamie is is how well liked she is by so many other competitors. She will soon make her pro debut and will no doubt quickly make a big impact on the pro stage.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: When I first started about five years ago I was working in construction and I was a very heavy drinker and smoker. It got to a point where every day I woke up I felt like crap. I started looking really haggard and worn down. I made a decision to quit smoking and also to quit drinking. When I made the decision, I needed something to take up that time. I decided to start working out in the gym and since I was doing construction, I did a lot of strength training so I could be as strong as all the guys on the job site to.
Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: I went to Team Universe with one of my friends who was competing. I helped her backstage and spent the day at Team U with her. Being backstage with all the figure and bikini competitors and bodybuilders, I looked around and was like "this is what I wanna do, I wanna be one of these women." When I saw them on stage and how they presented themselves and all the work they put in, I fell in love with it and wanted to prove I could do it. I looked in all the Oxygen magazines and wanted to be one of those girls. Once I started competing, I was hooked.
Q: You started in bikini and switched to physique for 2012, was there a reason for the switch?
A: When I first started thinking about competing I wanted to compete in figure. But when I started out, I had only been working out for a year, so I didn't have enough muscle for figure so I settled with bikini. 2010 was my first show and in 2011 I came back and wanted to do figure but people said to stay with bikini. I did, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. The judges could see that on stage and I didn't do well and felt uncomfortable in bikini. I feel like the posing and the way you present yourself didn't really fit my personality. When I saw the physique girls on stage, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I am not a girl who wears heels, I am not prissy, I am more like the tomboy. That off-season from 2011 to being on a physique stage in 2012 took a lot of work because I had a lot of muscle to put on.
Q: When you decided to switch did you have to drastically change your diet or training?
A: I didn't change the intensity of how I trained. When I first started working out I had always lifted heavy and intense. I did start doing mountain dog training that year, so that part changed. My diet changed immensely. I went from doing my bikini dieting to bulking very hard for about seven months. I bulked really hard so I was eating a lot more food than I was even comfortable with and got a lot heavier to. I don't think if I had tried to stay lean and gain a lot of muscle that I would have made the gains I did.
Q: Was the posing hard to learn?
A: Not really! Learning how to pose for bikini was a lot harder for me than learning posing for physique. I feel like when I stepped on stage for physique that I found what I was supposed to do. It kind of just came to me. I had a lot of help from Michelle (Brent) and Kenny (Wallach). They both helped a lot. But it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.
Q: Your first physique show was the New England show, which you won, but were you any more nervous than other shows?
A: I think I was less nervous, I was more excited. Just because I felt I had found the division that was right for me.
Q: After that was Nationals where you won your pro card, when you first realized you were a pro, what went through your head?
A: Total disbelief. I was in absolute shock. I had spoke with my fiance about that moment for so long saying I cant imagine what that feeling would be like. I thought it was gonna be a struggle for so many years to get my pro card and to get it my first year was beyond my expectations. Extreme happiness and joy to think I am gonna be on stage with some of these girls. It is a dream come true.
Q: When you decided to switch, if someone said you would win it that fast, what would you have said?
A: I would have said "No way, it's gonna take awhile". Of course it was my goal to get my pro card, but did I think it was gonna happen? I had a lot of people tell me it would happen and I was very leery to accept that. It was a surprise for me.
Q: A lot of people before Nationals did say you were gonna get it, for them to have that much faith in you, was it motivating?
A: Absolutely! I think being a woman who competes at this level, you get a lot of negativity, so when you do get those people giving you support, it means so much more. I don't think I would have got the courage to go to Nationals without the support.
Q: For you, does the pro card carry more responsibility as far as how you portray yourself?
A: Absolutely! I realize that more and more everyday because with all the social media, you have these girls who look up to you. When you get your pro card you have to set a good example for these girls of what a competitor is. To me, it means being an athlete and putting your heart into it. Being a good role model is important. The feedback I get back from those girls means more than they could ever understand. I motivate them but they motivate me and that is a big part of being a pro, what you do for everyone who is watching you.
Q: When are you making your pro debut?
A: My pro debut is in fifteen weeks at the Chicago Wings of Strength.
Q: From Nationals where do you need to be better for the pro stage?
A: There are a couple things I have been working on this off season. I was told by judges that I need to bring up my back. Me and John Meadows have been working on that. Also my abs, but a lot of abs are genetics. I have done what I can to improve them.
Q: When you are in the gym, do you get a lot of attention or stares?
A: Sometimes, mostly people new to the gym. I have been at my gym for awhile so everyone knows me. If there are newcomers, I get some stares and weird looks.
Q: If you could spend one day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: John Meadows. He is my trainer but he trains me from Ohio. If I could go train with him, that would be a dream come true.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My biggest supporter is my mother, I could not have done it with out her. My fiance Gordon Falcetti, my coach Shelby Starnes, my trainer John Meadows, Kenny Wallach and Michelle Brent.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Photos 1,2 and 4: Esther Linn/ Invicta
Photo 3: All Event Photography
Pgoto 5: Dave Mandel/Sherdog
Respected among fans and fighters alike due to her always exciting fights and hard work ethic, Kaitlin Young's best attribute may be her "fight whoever is put in front of me" attitude. She steps into her Invicta fight with Lauren Taylor as the favorite, but as always, will surely not overlook her opponent. One thing about Kaitlin is that when she is on the card, you know you are going to have an exciting fight.
Q: Pretty much every female wants a shot with Invicta, what does it mean to you that they keep bringing you back?
A: It is a huge compliment. I am very flattered and excited. It has been so awesome to be so active this last year.
Q: Not that you don't always go out and try and put on a good performance, but the fact they have so much faith in you, does it make you want to do so even more?
A: Oh for sure. Like you said, it's not that you don't want to put on a good performance in every fight, from the first show and how well they treat everybody, you fight for you, but in a way it makes you feel like you want to fight for that promotion, you want to do things that will get them better ratings, not just because you want to be an exciting fighter for yourself.
Q: This is the second fight in a row where you have a late replacement, does it affect the way you train or do you just keep going with what you are doing?
A: A little bit. There are always a couple things that I see that a person does that I want to capitalize on. I am training for every scenario possible in each camp so it is not a huge shift. It is enough time to work specific drills to stuff that that person does. Three weeks I don't feel is bad.
Q: Is it harder, in this case you, or harder on the replacement?
A: I would say it would be harder on her. I think if you don't know you have a fight or have a name, that is the hardest. If I don't know who I am fighting, the motivation is a little harder. But I think she fought recently and is probably in shape, so this case it is probably neither here nor there.
Q: Have you seen much of her?
A: Yep, she has a lot on YouTube.
Q: How do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think she definitely is a gamer, it will be a good fight. I see some things I will try and take advantage of.
Q: She is undefeated but has not fought anyone of your caliber, does that somewhat make it a no-lose situation for her?
A: Yeah, absolutely! If she goes out and puts on a good show, it is a good situation for her, win or lose.
Q: Does that make her more dangerous?
A: For her, I haven't met her, but I get the sense that she is the sort of person who wouldn't fight not to lose anyway. For the type of fighter she is, it wouldn't change it a lot but with other fighters I think it would.
Q: On almost the flip side, it is the biggest stage she has fought on, can the pressure affect her?
A: It's possible. When I am in a camp I am in my little cocoon, I don't pay a ton of attention to the other stuff going on in women's MMA, but I think sometimes the additional demands for a bigger show, like stuff like this interview, you aren't always super prepared to deal with. It can be a disadvantage. It depends on how you deal with pressure, how your coaches deal with pressure, which I think is sometimes overlooked. It is the wild card, we don't know with her.
Q: The question I always have to ask, do you have a prediction?
A: Oh, you know the answer to this haha. I don't make predictions, but I will be looking for a finish.
Q: A lot of people were looking forward to you and Amanda, is that a fight you would like at some point?
A: Sure! I am not really picky about who I fight. I would fight her but I wasn't necessarily looking forward to that fight more than any other fight with someone who has a pretty established name.
Q: You recently has some problems with a sponsor and some other companies stepped up, how did that make you feel that they did that for you?
A: It was great. In this camp, Joe Taverni has been amazing and Intimidation threw me some extra cash because I had been shorted by GameBred. It is a huge help because I have started working much less during camps. I train the same, but I can rest more and it makes a huge difference. That would not be possible without going into the hole during camp unless your sponsors are helping. Those guys helping out has been tremendous and I am very thankful for that.
Q: UFC announced the format for the next Ultimate Fighter, it is guys and girls, do you like that or would you like it differently?
A: If I were Dana White and looking for viewers, it is great. Depending on who is cast, it could be good or bad. The nice thing is there is twelve of each. The interesting thing is that it is more like reality except most teams have like two women in a room full of twenty guys training. I assume they are training together so it will be interesting and show people who aren't involved in the sport that it goes on. I am sure people will be looking for love triangles and things to haha. I think it is good, it will show the hard working women and they work hard like the guys. I think it will be good honestly.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: All my teammates at the Academy, Robert Brant, Greg Nelson, Ryan Murray, Tom Schmitz, Matt Miller at Horsepower Strength and Conditioning, Nutri Shop in Lakeville, Minnesota, Intimidation Clothing and Joe Taverni, Slade from Tussle, he knows why and everyone else will at the weigh-ins, you for interviewing me and all the fans.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Photos 1-2: Stone Photography
Photo 4: Muscle Insider
I found Steph Beck on the fan page for my blog. I saw one photo and was incredibly impressed So I had to get her to do an interview. While still pretty new to competing, she has already shown a great deal of potential to excel and earn a pro card in the future.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: As a kid I always did things my own way. I never followed the crowd; I never wore Nike shoes, or Tommy Hilfiger and Fubu clothing like a lot of the other kids. I had my own opinions about things even in kindergarten, and never let kids convince me otherwise unless they had valid explanations, which they never did. So, I carried on doing things my own way, and as I got older, began to get picked on by older girls. Oddly enough, this made me feel pretty important – “Why would I stand out enough to be picked on?! Cool!” I thought. As a kid, that was great for my confidence, as soon as I walked into school people would stop what they were doing just to call me names. I felt that I must be important for people to actually stop what they’re doing just to threaten me or laugh at me. From grade 4 to grade 10 I competed in Public Speaking competitions in both English and French, and won first place every time because of my confidence and way of getting my point across. I would also play piano and sing at assemblies, memorials, and other events to showcase my talent in front of all the people that hated and threatened me.
The relevance of my confidence, getting my point across, and doing my own thing regarding how I got started in the gym is that:
1.) No one else was doing it, I signed up for the gym in February 2009 when I was in Grade 11 and I soon was hired to work at GNC in April 2009. I felt a sort of high doing things for myself, learning about how to enhance myself mentally and physically. I saw at a young age that kids and adolescents would do things more so for their peers as opposed to themselves. I had a lot of friends in grade 9 and 10 and was considered fairly popular, but quickly saw that my own identity was fading due to trying to please peers. So I completely distanced myself from these people and spent all my spare time at the gym, working at GNC, learning about supplements, and researching Nutrition and Fitness. I went from pleasing my friends by partying, making a fool out of myself and failing school in grade 10 to getting 90s and 100s in grade 11 and dropping 30lbs. I clearly saw that I was benefiting by doing this. I decided to write a book entitled “Beacons and Shadows: Finding the Way Beyond the Collective Experience” in grade 11 to discuss the importance of being able to step away from exterior circumstances and influence and find who you truly are, find what you really need in your life to enhance the quality of your reality.
2.) I soaked up all the information I could about Nutrition and Fitness. It was my thing; it was my force, my meditation, my life. I continued to see the benefits so I continued putting in more work. I always wanted to be able to get my point across with whatever I believed in, so I must have good sources of information and good ways to back things up if I were to ever need to discuss it.
Q: As you started to add muscle, did any family or friends react negatively to it?
A: As I started to add muscle, Mom and Nan didn’t like it – especially Mom. “But you’re my daughter, Stephie! Don’t get any bigger!” My father hadn’t been in my life for many years after my parents divorced, and growing up, he’d always wanted me to be an engineer, and play sports, and do everything that I didn’t really want to do. As an independent kid, this didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t care if my family told me not to build any more muscle, I didn’t care if they didn’t realize my passion in life, because I was going to do it anyway. I’ve seen the way most people live their whole lives of being drones of society hating their job and hating their life – I didn’t want that to be me. I was always encouraged to get a university degree and get a “normal” job. I wanted to be a Personal Trainer, a Nutritionist, and someday a Pro Figure / Physique competitor; as of now, I have two complete. Growing up I got used to always hearing a negative response to anything I’d say, so I ended up being very introverted for a while because I’d rather not talk to anyone than talk to people that were going to shove negativity in my face. I loved doing good things for myself, living out my passion, and not taking “no” for an answer when it came to that. Proving to myself that I didn’t really need others to believe in me helped my enthusiastic personality to shine again.
Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: Working at GNC for three years I would see people coming in for supplements around the time of the show and telling me how they are in Contest Prep. I was fascinated by their changing features weekly, and said that I would compete in the Figure category of the NLABBA in 2011. When it came time to diet and overall prep, I didn’t really know anyone that could help me, and I began to see as I lost weight that I really didn’t have enough muscle to compete in figure. I looked at the National competitors; boy, were their shoulders and legs huge! So I decided to take another year and compete in November 2012. In March, 2012, I met the love of my life, John Perry, who was after competing before, personal training for 4 years, and managing a fitness studio for 2 years. We shared the same life morals, work ethic, values, perspective, passion for nutrition and fitness, and many other qualities of character. He brought what was good out of me and made it great, my work ethic became intensified, as did my outlook on life, my optimism, my hunger for more knowledge, results, and new goals. We both competed in the bodybuilding show in November 2012, both placing 3rd in our categories (Figure Short and Men’s Heavyweight classes) – a great success for my first show!
Q: When you competed for the first time, did you have any idea what to expect and was it as you expected?
A: When I first competed, I had a great idea of what I was getting myself into, because John competed before, and his contest prep was extreme. He explained in great detail the exhaustion, the sores on his feet he would get from doing so much cardio, the emotional roller-coaster, and the loss of strength. I already had my mind made up that I would do whatever I had to do to get stage ready, and I sure did. I gradually increased cardio from seventeen weeks out from thirty minutes 3 times a week to 2 hours and 30 minutes 7 days per week at the end of it, and decreased calories from 1800 to 900 on off-days, 1100 on training days at the end. I had forty-four pounds to lose, and I did it. It was excruciating, but well worth it!
Q: One thing I like from your stage pictures is your conditioning is incredible, is that something you take a lot of pride in?
A: Despite my true inner confidence, I am not the type of person to necessarily take pride in something like being conditioned. I mean, yes I worked incredibly hard for it, but, it’s a competition, you need to be ridiculously lean – not just gym lean, stage lean! It’s just something that comes along with competing, if you’re not willing to feel absolutely terrible for weeks to get that lean, you’re probably not cut out for it! It beats the crap out of you mentally and physically, there is no room for doubt, weakness, or excuses. I would not brag about my conditioning or anything, because I mean, the women that placed second and first were more conditioned than me anyway – props to them! There is always room for improvement in everything. I am never satisfied, I will always continue to set new goals, and once I reach them, more will be set again.
Q: How much does it help to date someone who competes and knows what the whole process is like?
A: When I think “date” I think people that are “kind of together, but not really together, just dating”. John and I have lived together for a year, and despite our ages (I am 21 and he is 24) we know that the search is over as for who we are going to be with for the rest of our lives. We have each other’s name tattooed on our wrists, and to us, this represents our morals (trust, forgiveness, honesty, loyalty) as well as our passion for what we do in life. We feel as if nobody has ever understood our passion in life as much as we understand each other’s. I have always been told “you can’t” or “that won’t work” or “that doesn’t make sense” or “it won’t happen like that”. But John tells me “you can”, and not only “you can” but “you will”. I have never imagined sharing such an understanding for an enlightened way of living, but now I have that, and I am so appreciative every day. It makes things so much easier to know that your significant other is on the same page as you in regards to so many things. He helped me get through contest prep, even though it was the hardest thing we’ve ever been through, but we stood by each other’s side and it helped to get through the worst of days.
Q: Do you know when you will compete next?
A: John and I are competing again this November (2013). Women’s physique has been brought here this year and I have been watching many videos of Physique competitors to see how their presentation differs from Figure and Bodybuilding.
Q: Physique wise, where do you want to be better for the next one?
A: Physique wise, I am aiming to have more muscle all over, but mainly on my legs. I am now training legs twice per week, one heavy day and one lighter day (higher volume). The lighter day is paired with shoulders, as I’ve been jokingly said to have “Jay Cutler shoulders”, so I’m not looking to bring them up too much. I have never been good at squats, but John has helped me to perfect my form and within the last year my squat record went from 185lbs for six to 245lbs for five. My legs have been getting bigger, but I’m still setting goals in the gym!
Q: I saw some photo shoot pictures and you seem very comfortable in front of the camera, is that something you want to do more of?
A: I used to have photo shoots done by my friend who’s a local photographer. I have always been comfortable in front of the camera, and would definitely love to be a fitness model, or a sponsored athlete for a supplement company. I believe that my personable, hardworking and confident personality would work very well to help represent a supplement or product that I believe in.
Q: When you are out in public, are you a dress to show off the physique type person or more cover it up and avoid attention?
A: Haha, it definitely depends! Off season if I’m fairly soft I will cover up, but as I am closer to competition and begin to reveal the muscles again, I’ll wear sleeveless shirts and show off the guns! In general, I am more comfortable in sweat pants, hoodies and sneakers. It’s funny because in grade 10 one big reason I was made fun of was because I would curl my hair perfectly every day and spray it with a half tin of hair spray, wear fake eyelashes, cake the make-up on, and dress up with clothes from Dynamite and Le Chateau.
Q: You have your own training business, what do you enjoy about training others?
A: With our business, Platinum Pro Fitness, we teach our clients about proper nutrition, training, and all the variables in between so that they can become empowered to take control of their own lifestyle and health. It’s important to be knowledgeable of preventative nutrition, supplementation and exercise to live optimally and add quality years onto your life. I love training clients who are absolutely ready for change, so much so that they are hungry for results – it makes me really enjoy every session and enjoy every success they have. I work with my clients outside of our gym too, I coach them via text whenever they have concerns or questions, and I’m always happy to do so. I’ve worked in the supplement industry for 3 years, after having left GNC this February since our business has picked up, so I can help all of our clients with supplement recommendations for different purposes. We really want to be able to help the client understand why they are doing what they’re doing in regards to the nutrition and training program we design for them. If they don’t understand it, then how can they help themselves? We don’t want to make it so that they rely on us for success; we give them the tools, support, guidance, and program to meet their goals and keep setting and reaching new goals.
Q: If you could spend one day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: If I could train with someone I’ve never trained with, it would be Dana Linn Bailey. She is a goof ball like me and she moves some heavy weight!! I’ve never really trained with women before as I train pretty intense which a lot of girls at the gyms I go to don’t do. Dana Linn Bailey trains hardcore, puts 150% into everything she does; her diet, her training, and her business, and gets results. I’d love to train legs with her, as this is a body part I’m trying to bring up, and I’d like to see if she has any different techniques for training legs that I could incorporate into my own training.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I’d like to thank my life partner, John Perry just for being who you are! This past year I have had so many successes, with placing in my first Figure competition, finding the utmost happiness, and launching a successful fitness business, and I thank you for being there for me when things got hard and always made me realize how strong I am. We are an undefeatable team who will compete until we are blue in the face and come out on top, we love results and we love reaching goals. Through our business we want to teach others how to have the mentality of mental warriors, and be able to ignore excuses only seeing them as weakness. There is no reason why you can’t live the life you dream of living. Get the people out of your life who tell you that you can’t, and you won’t, and what you want is impossible to get. Surround yourself with people that encourage you, challenge you, believe in you, and there’s no reason in hell why you can’t believe in yourself.
One of the highly anticpiated fights at the next Invicta on April 5th is Jasminka Cive vs Bec Hyatt. Made even more so by some words that have been said by both. While maybe not known as well to U.S. fans, an impressive performance where Cive shows the skill she does in facot posses, she could quickly become a very popular fighter in the U.S., and she has the right opponent as Hyatt is the kind of fighter that will make this an exciting Fight of the Night candidate.
Q: Before we talk about your upcoming fight, can you talk about how you got interested in training for the sport?
A: In my Muay Thai-time, I was referee in a MMA-fight and I was so excited about that fight, I loved it from the first time and decided to do it myself. Only 5 weeks later I made my MMA debut and won by submission!
Q: Was your family o.k. with you fighting?
A: My parents are ok with it, but my mother would rather want me to do something else, where I can´t get hurt. I guess that’s how mums are, and I love her for that.
Q: You are fighting Bec Hyatt, how do you feel you match up with her?
A: I think it will be a fun fight that can stand or go to the ground, depending on how we attack eatch other. I think it will be a good fight for the fans. I don´t know about Bec, but you can expect some fireworks on my part.
Q: Where do you feel you hold the biggest advantage?
A: I think I can knock her out, but I also train a lot on the ground, so either way I am very comfortable. I just want to put on a show, because that is what the fans want. If I have fun in there, the W will come by itself.
Q: She has said she will knock you out, do you take that as an insult, or motivation or both?
A: She said so much in the last weeks, that´s just Bec, trying to push my buttons. If you know me, I am a very calm person, that doesn't go under my skin. I´ll be ready and do my thing and do the talking in the cage.
Q: There has been a lot of talk between you guys, how did it get started?
A: It started with a joke, that is also a fact, I guess. My fiancée said (to Bec) that she should train more and not be on Facebook 24/7 otherwise she is only the Facebook Champion. Something like that. She thought he provoked her and told him that he is ugly, smack talked his tattoos, said he's on roid rage etc.
After months she brought it back up and they smack talked some more (to each other), which she tried to be the victim and make him the bad guy. I didn't see that at first, only after an Australian fan of mine, (yeah I know, ironic isn’t it?) told me via Twitter. Then a lot of people insulted me on Facebook and Twitter and said some horrible things. I don´t know if that´s what Bec wanted, or if that's her character, but I think Invicta didnt like that behavior. However, I don´t get involved in child´s play and show respect to my opponents. Never will do crap like that and on the other hand, I don't take it seriously. Why should I? I try to stay professional, that’s what I did for my whole career.
Q: When something like that happens, and you really dislike the person, when you do fight her, does it make it harder to stick to a game plan and not let anger make you do something you shouldn't do?
A: Like I said, I am a calm person and can control my emotions, which means I am all good and will stick to my game-plan. No problem there, Bec had her fun.
Q: With the style you both have, this could end up being the most exciting fight of the night, would you agree with that?
A: I totally agree and like I said before I will bring my part to make it exciting. Hopefully she doesnt only talk but does her part as well.
Q: What did you think of her performance against Carla Esparza?
A:I think she layed on her back for 5 rounds. Couldnt show much. I don´t mean this in a bad way, but that’s how it was, Carla dominated and earned that win. Even in round one Carla nearly submitted her with that rear-naked choke.
Q: Invicta is a huge thing for women's MMA. What does it mean to you to fight for Invicta?
A: I am really happy to finally get the chance to fight for Invicta. I wanted it for a really long time. I was scheduled to fight at Invicta 2, but it didnt happen because of visa problems. Finally I can catch up on it now. It was a dream of mine to fight in the U.S., and also a dream to fight at Invicta. I am really happy to be part of it.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I will win this fight!
Q: After this fight, any idea what you want next, or are you just taking it one fight at a time?
A: I respect all my opponents, everyone that steps into the cage, which means I don´t make that kind of predictions and go from fight to fight. There are a lot deserving girls out there that fought longer in Invicta than me. I have to pay my dues and will take who Invicta gives me.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you wanted to thank?
A: I want to thank my German management, which made all this finally come true, also Slade Bittler from Tussle who helped out a lot as well, my sponsors that back me up for years and all my team mates for being there for me and getting me ready for this fight. I also send a special thank you to Invicta, which gave me this chance.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Photo 1: Shoot It MMA.com
Photos 2-3: Hex Linc Photos
Jessica Zomcik has long been one of the most popular fighters in Ohio and one of the most skilled as she can hang with the best standing and on the ground. Since switching to Evolve she has won an MMA fight and a boxing match. On March 30th she returns to the cage to face Jena Baldwin at NAAFS Caged Vengeance 13 in a highly anticipated female bout.
Q: Last fight, you beat Ashley Rickard by armbar. It was your first fight in almost two years due to injuries. With all that time off, how did you feel about your performance?
A: I trained so hard leading up to that fight. It took almost 8 months to find an opponent so I was constantly training for any opportunity to arise. I felt really strong at 140 for that fight, I felt very dominant and prepared against Ashley.
Q: You also recently did a boxing match. So with two fights since switching to Evolve, how has training there improved you as a fighter?
A: Evolve has taken my career to a new level, they have tremendous coaches and over 70 classes a week. The team is huge and there is always someone preparing for a fight which means I get great work everyday. With a specific coach for each discipline I have endless possibilities for getting better. Everyone is so willing to work with you, its really great at Evolve, I love my decision to move down here.
Q: You have Jena Baldwin coming up, what do you know about her?
A: She's an all around tough chick. I've seen her fight before and am impressed
Q: She has had two fights so far, how big of a role can your experience play?
A: My experience goes beyond MMA fights. As you stated earlier I had my boxing debut in January, and I've won over 30 medals in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. I believe my experience is the perfect match up for an outstanding fight.
Q: You do so much training with guys, does that aid you in a fight this this against a strong fighter?
A: Hell yea! I try to grapple the biggest and toughest guys in the gym first because if I can master them, then a female my size will feel like a peanut in comparison. I don't mind not being able to train with women because I don't train like a girl, I train like a man.
Q: You have fought a whose who of female fighters around here, fighters who each have their strengths, so does that give you any belief that there is nothing she can bring in to the cage that you have not dealt with before?
A: Agreed, except if she brought a rattlesnake in the cage. I don't know how to defeat those.
Q: Is there anyone you have fought that you would compare her to?
A: Trisha Barr.
Q: This is an incredible card with some of the most popular fighters in the area, does it mean anything special to you to be the only female fight on such a big card?
A: It is an honor to be showcased and I hope we put on a show for the fans
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: My hand in the sky!!!!!!
Q: Any idea how active you wanna be this year?
A: Every three to four months would be nice, barring injury.
Q: Have you given any thought as to when you would like to turn pro?
A: When I and my coaches feel its time
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: I want to thank my family and friends for their endless support, John Cook, Steve Traczyk, Mike Riedal, Ryan Madigan, Dave Rella, Doc Higley, Mike Wrobel and all of team Evolve,
1. Pro 152LB Catch Weight 5x5x5 Rounds
Patrick White (2-5) vs Christian Leonard (1-3)
RD 1: White throws a jab while touching gloves which was kind of dirty. Jab by Leonard. Hook by White. They clinch and drop down with Leonard on top in guard. Head shots from the bottom by White. They stand and trade punches. Hook by Leonard. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Leonard. They drop down in north south. They stand clinched. Knee to the body by Leonard and they separate. Takedown by Leonard and he gets his back. Leonard moves to north south. Leonard gets his back again and gets a rear naked for the tap.
Result: Christian Leonard by Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:27 of Round 1
2. Pro Featherweight 5x5x5 Rounds
Bruce Baker (0-0) vs Myron Baker (1-0)
Since they have the same last name, I will refer to them by their last names.
RD 1: Leg kick by Bruce. Leg kick by Myron. Cross by Bruce. Leg kick by Myron. Leg kick by Bruce. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by Bruce. Takedown by Myron into guard. Myron gets side control. Elbow to the head by Myron. Bruce gets half guard. Punch to the body by Myron. Bruce gets full guard. Head shots by Myron. Myron stands and lets him up. Leg kick by Bruce. Head kick by Myron. Takedown by Myron into mount. Sweep by Bruce and he gets on top in guard. Myron goes for a triangle and then an armbar and gets the tap.
Result: Myron Baker by Tapout (Armbar) at 3:51 of Round 1
3. Pro Heavyweight 5x5x5 Rounds
Chris Birchler (3-0) vs Shelton Graves (1-0)
RD 1: They trade punches. Takedown by Birchler into guard. Birchler moves to side control. Body shots from the bottom by Graves. Birchler is just holding him there and not being active. Graves is asking the ref to stand them. Head shots from the bottom by Graves. Graves gets half guard. Punch to the head by Birchler. Birchler moves to side control and pins an arm down but Graves gets the arm out. Head shots from the bottom by Graves. Birchler is still doing nothing from side control. Head shots finally from Birchler.
I scored RD 1: 10-10
RD 2: Graves lands punches. They clinch on the cage. Knees to the leg by Graves. Graves is warned for holding the cage. Knee to the leg by Graves. They separate and trade crosses. They clinch on the cage and move to the center and separate. Birchler shoots in and they clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Graves. They move to the center and Graves lands an uppercut. They move back to the cage and Graves lands punches to the leg. The ref separates them. They clinch in the center and Graves lands a knee to the body. Uppercut by Graves. They move to the cage and Graves lands head shots. Punches to the leg by Graves. Knee to the leg by Graves. They separate. Hook by Graves. They clinch on the cage. Head shots by Graves. Knee to the leg by Graves. More head shots by Graves. They trade knees to the leg. They ref separates them. Hook by Graves. They clinch on the cage. Head shots by Graves. Knees to the leg by Graves.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Graves
RD 3: Birchler shoots in and gets a takedown into side control. Head shots by Birchler. Birchler gets his back and lands head shots. More head shots by Birchler. Graves is doing good to avoid damage. Body shots by Birchler. Birchler gets mount and lands a punch to the head. Body shots from the bottom by Graves.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Birchler
My score card: 29-29 Draw
Result: Chris Birchler by Unanimous Decision (29-27/29-28/29-28)
4. Pro 195LB Catch Weight 5x5x5 Rounds
Frank Lauro Jr. (3-3-1) vs Ray Elliot (0-1)
RD 1: They clinch on the cage. Takedown by Lauro into half guard. Body shots from the bottom by Elliot. Lauro goes for his back but Elliot gets on top in guard. Nice sweep by Lauro to get on top and he goes for an armbar and then a triangle for the tap.
Result: Frank Lauro Jr by Tapout (Triangle) at 2:30 of Round 1
5. Pro 149LB Catch Weight 5x5x5 Rounds
Andria Wawro (1-1) vs Cassie Crisano (0-0)
RD 1: Clinch and takedown by Crisano. Head shots by Crisano and she gets her back. Crisano looks for a rear naked. Wawro defends it well. Punch to the head by Crisano. Crisano is still trying for the rear naked and Wawro still defends it well. Wawro rolls and gets on top in guard. Punch to the head by Wawro. Elbows to the head by Wawro. More head shots by Wawro. They trade head shots on the ground.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Crisano
RD 2: Jab and cross by Wawro. They trade punches. Body kick by Crisano. They trade punches. They clinch and separate quickly. Wawro lands hard punches. Cross by Wawro. Leg kick by Crisano. Cross to the body by Wawro. Wawro catches a kick and lands punches. Hard cross by Wawro. Jab by Crisano. Cross by Wawro. Jab by Wawro. Jab to the body by Crisano. They trade hooks. Wawro hurts her with a hook. Leg kick by Crisano. They trade punches. They trade hard shots on the cage. Jab by Wawro. Cross by Crisano. Hook by Wawro. Body kick by Crisano. Jab to the body by Wawro. Jab by Wawro. Wawro lands punches. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Wawro.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Wawro
RD 3: Clinch and takedown by Crisano into half guard. Head shots by Crisano. Body shots by Crisano. Crisano tries for an arm but Wawro gets her back and then they stand clinched and then separate. They trade jabs. Hook to the body by Wawro. They trade jabs. Jab by Wawro. Hook by Wawro. Jab by Wawro. Wawro lands punches. Hook by Wawro. Hook by Wawro. Hook to the body by Wawro. Leg kick by Crisano. Hook by Wawro. They clinch on the cage. Crisano pulls guard and they drop down with Wawro in half guard. Crisano avoids damage. Body shots by Wawro. Punch to the head by Wawro.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Wawro
My score card: 29-28 Wawro
Result: Andria Wawro by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
6. Pro 190LB Catch Weight 5x5x5 Rounds
Timothy Woods (6-3) vs Mike Stewart (8-5)
RD 1: Jab by Woods. Stewart shoots and gets a takedown into north south. Body shots by Woods. They stand clinched on the cage. Knee to the leg by Woods. Stewart is working hard for a takedown. Punch to the body by Woods. Head shots by Woods. Stewart is still trying for the takedown. Punch to the head by Stewart. Knee to the body by Woods. Knee to the leg by Stewart. Hard knee to the body by Woods. Great takedown defense by Woods. Head shots by Woods. Punches to the leg by Stewart. The ref separates them. Leg kick by Woods and another. Uppercut by Woods. They clinch on the cage and separate quick and trade punches. Stewart is cut over his eye. Leg kick by Woods and another. Jab by Woods. Uppercut by Woods.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Woods
RD 2: Jab by Stewart and another. Leg kick by Stewart. Jab to the body by Woods. Stewart shoots in and they clinch on the cage. Takedown by Stewart into half guard. Stewart is bleeding bad and they stop it for the doctor to check the cut. The doctor legs them continue and they start back where they were. Woods sands and they are still clinched on the cage. Knees to the leg by Stewart. Stewart is trying hard for a takedown. Punch to the head by Stewart. Knee to the leg by Stewart. Knee to the leg by Woods. The ref separates them. Jab by Woods. They clinch on the cage. Takedown by Stewart.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Stewart
RD 3: They trade punches. Slam by Stewart into guard. Body shots by Stewart. Punch to the head by Stewart. Body shots by Stewart. Hammer fist by Stewart. They trade head shots on the ground. Body shots by Stewart. The ref stands them. Body kick by Woods. Jab by Woods. Stewart shoots and they clinch on the cage. Takedown by Stewart and he holds his leg and Woods tries to stand. Body shots by Woods.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Stewart
My score card: 29-28 Stewart
Result: Mike Stewart by Split Decision (29-28/27-30/29-28)
7. Pro Bantamweight 5x5x5 Rounds
Jason McLean (6-5) vs Joel Roberts (8-5)
RD 1: Leg kick by Roberts. Jab and cross by McLean. Leg kick by McLean. Leg kick by Roberts. Hook by McLean. Leg kick by McLean. Body kick by McLean. Hook to the body by McLean. Jab by Roberts. Hook by McLean. Leg kick by Roberts and another. McLean drops him with a cross and lets him up. Hook by McLean. They trade punches. Jab by Roberts. Knee to the body by Roberts. Leg kick by Roberts. Cross by McLean. Leg kick by Roberts. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by Roberts. Knee to the body by Roberts.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Roberts
RD 2: They trade crosses. Leg kick by McLean. Hook by McLean. Leg kick by Roberts. They clinch and separate quick. They trade leg kicks. Jab and cross by McLean. They clinch and separate quickly. They trade crosses. Hook by McLean. Jab by Roberts. Uppercut by McLean. They trade jabs. Roberts shoots and they clinch on the cage. Knees to the leg by Roberts. Knee to the leg by McLean. Elbow to the head by McLean. Knee to the leg by Roberts. More knees to the leg by Roberts. Body shots by Roberts.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Roberts
RD 3: Jab by Roberts. Leg kick by McLean. Roberts lands punches. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by McLean. Knee to the leg by Roberts. Knee to the body by Roberts. Knee to the leg by Roberts. They trade knees to the body. Knee to the body by Roberts. Knee to the leg by Roberts. Knee to the body by Roberts. They trade knees to the leg. Knee to the body by McLean. Knee to the leg by McLean and another. Punch to the body by McLean. Knee to the leg by Roberts. Punches to the head by McLean. They trade knees to the leg. Knee to the body by McLean. Roberts lands a knee low stopping the action. They resume but nothing happens before the bell.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Roberts
My score card: 30-27 Roberts
Result: Joel Roberts by Split Decision (29-28/27-30/29-28)
8. Pro Flyweight 5x5x5 Rounds
Evan Velez (5-2) vs Travis Wynn (3-0)
RD 1: They trade hooks. Leg kick by Velez and another. Jab by Velez. Leg kick by Velez. Cross by Wynn. Cross to the body by Wynn. Hook by Velez. Leg kick by Velez. Cross by Wynn. Leg kick by Velez. Takedown by Wynn into half guard. Wynn gets his back and lands head shots. They stand. Leg kick by Velez. Head kick by Velez. They clinch on the cage. Head shots by Velez. Takedown by Wynn.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Velez
RD 2: They trade crosses. Leg kick by Velez. Velez puts him out with a hook.
Result: Evan Velez by KO at :40 of Round 2
Submission of the Night: Frank Lauro Jr.
Knockout of the Night: Evan Velez
Fight of the Night: Andria Wawro vs Cassie Crisano
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Since returning from a long break due to severe injury, Zoila Gurgel has gone 1-1, defeating Casey Noland and then losing to Jessica Eye. She now will make her Invicta debut on April 5th when she faces Jennifer Maia in one of the nights most anticipated fights. She says she feels better now than at any time since the injury and is looking for a Fight of the Night performance and working her way towards a title shot.
Q: You have had two fights since your return, physically how have you felt?
A: I was told I would always be able to feel it. Training for the first fight I didn't put too much stress on it. I didn't do the same strength and conditioning workouts as I usually do. I really didn't use it as much as I usually do, with all the kicking and weight training. They wanted me to baby it a little bit. It felt o.k., then again, I didn't over-work it. That first fight, even though I felt in shape, it was a little weird after being away so long. It was kind of foreign to me. It had been so long that everything was weird to me. When I was there fighting, it wasn't comfortable to me, it wasn't what I was used to. I wasn't happy with that performance and the way I felt. After that fight, I jumped right into the next fight and it felt a little better to do that, I wanted to shake off the last performance and do something better. Going into the next fight, I was able to sue it more and do more weight training with my knee. I wasn't doing as much kickboxing as I used to, but I felt it was enough. Going in, I felt ready, better than the first fight. But shit happens haha. I wasn't able to sue anything I wanted in that fight. It was going in and making a mistake and getting beat right away. I felt better mentally and physically but compared to now, I am able to use my knee more and using the coach from when I first started Muay-Thai. All my power is coming back. It is finally starting to even out. It will always be a little fatigued and sore when I use it but I am finally happy after so long.
Q: The last fight with Jessica Eye, there was an obvious dislike between you two, you said you made a mistake, do you think that dislike caused you to make the mistake?
A: Yeah, I knew right off the bat when I took the fight that it would be a factor if I let it. I knew it right off the bat, I knew it, especially because my first loss against Miesha Tate was the same thing. It wasn't a dislike for Miesha, it was the things she said about me and me coming back with "I don't even know this girl and she is talking all this trash." When it came to Miesha, I was still new to the sport and didn't think it would pay a toll on me. Coming into the fight I was so angry at Miesha, I just wanted to rip her head off. No game-plan, just go in and kick her head in the third row. It was the same thing with this fight. But this fight, I already knew all that, I knew what it would do to me. It was easier at first cause I stayed away from social media, even in interviews when I was told what was said, it was like "if that is what she has to say, that is what she has to say". When it came down to going and the producer of Bellator telling me "she said this, you have to sell this fight, you can't just sit there and let this be said about you". It pissed me off, the things they told me she said. I was like "fuck it, whatever" and I just went off. Doing that made me more angry and when it was time to go, I was so angry. I never went into a fight that angry. Like no other fight, I walked straight into her, I don't ever rush in, I sit back and throw a couple shots, but that fight I went straight at her and made that mistake and it cost me.
Q: Afterwords you did the post fight hug and seemed to handle it well right after, are you proud of that?
A: For me, there is only one way. Regardless of win or lose, I knew then and there it was wrong of me to act the way i did and be involved in that. I did what I felt was right not what everyone thought I should do. After the fight people asked why after all the things that were said, and I didn't do it for just her, I did it for me. It felt better to do that. She deserved the win, she did what she had to do and I respect that. I did what I felt I needed to do to make things right for me.
Q: Moving on from that, with what Invicta means for women's MMA, how excited are you to fight for them?
A: Moving on from Bellator is the biggest relief for me. It feels like I have a home now, a place to do the things I love to do and be appreciated for it. Who wants to go to a job where they aren't appreciated for the work they do, putting everything they love into it. I feel like I will be appreciated for my work at Invicta and it makes me so very happy to be there.
Q: How do you feel you match up with Jennifer Maia?
A: Actually, we come from the same type of background. She comes from Chute Box and has good submission skills and I come from Muay-Thai and I believe my submission game is better than what it started out as. It will be a good fight. Coming from Brazil, I don't know if it will play a toll but I am ready for the best Jennifer Maia there is.
Q: Coming from Brazil, can coming from so far have an affect on her?
A: It really depends on the fighter. If she is mentally tough enough to take that into consideration and go after it, I don't think she will have a problem. Time will tell. I am ready for the best Jennifer Maia, but if she has problems, we will see that night.
Q: Do you think she will stand at all with you or try and go right to the ground?
A: I don't think she will. I think after the first few exchanges she wont wanna stand to be honest. From then on it will be trying to get me to the ground and if she does, I don't think I will have a problem there either. She looks to be a good tough fighter but I have never been as ready for a fight. I think I will pose a lot of threats to her.
Q: You are known for your stand-up do you feel your ground game is under-estimated?
A: Of course! Out of the fourteen fights I have had, I have not spent more than maybe a round on the ground. People are gonna under-estimate what they haven't seen. I have done a few grappling tournaments but you cant take that into consideration, especially when punches are involved. The only two losses I have had are to submissions so they are gonna want to take me where they feel I am weak and I don't have a problem with that at all.
Q: Coming off the lose, how important is this fight for you?
A: It's motivated me. People need those losses, especially to win as much as I have. You need them to re-motivate you and that has what it has done to me. I hate the feeling of losing, especially when i feel I have prepared myself to every extent. To lose, especially being a competitor for so long, it is not a feeling I like so I push myself past my limits every single day. Anything can happen in a fight but but I push myself to polish everything I can to make sure it is not a possibility.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: If not Fight of the Night, I would like to get back to what I have done, which is why I came back to California, to get my striking on point, where I started. A win is a win, but to do it in spectacular fashion would be amazing. With women going to the UFC and all this spotlight on women's MMA, I would love nothing more than to make this my best performance, whether it is a minute, two minutes, fifteen minutes, make it the best performance ever.
Q: With you and yours sister Stephanie both fighting with Invicta, would you want to be on the same card with Stephanie for them?
A: Of course! I have before and coming up to this fight I thought it may be a possibility. It is crazy with the emotions of her fighting, but we have such a connection,w e feel stronger and feel better. It would be amazing to fight again on the same card, it fuels us.
Q: Any idea what you want after this fight, or just taking it one at a time?
A: One at a time for now. I would love nothing more than to get those losses back, but I don't see that any time soon now that I am with Invicta. I wanna make my way back to the top. Maybe after this I will get a chance at a title show with either Barb (Honchak) or Vanessa (Porto). Not looking past Jennifer but I wanna be back on top of the division and I see myself doing it.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Anyone who has helped me out. My husband (Jorge Gurgel) has always been there, he will be here in a few days to finish out camp. My sister has been here day after day training her but off with me, she is my main training partner. When it comes to striking or the ground she is one of the better women to be here with me. My mom, I don't thank her enough, she deserves the world and has gotten me to this point in my life. My family and team at JGMMA and the guys here helping me Jasper Tayaba and Alan Fried. I have been with Jasper from day one, he helped me to be a world champion. My fans and supporters, through thick and thin, people who stayed by my side. Thank you Jason for this interview.