When I began training MMA at the age of 17 I was a whopping 157 pounds standing just under 5’8″ tall. I was bigger than the two, maybe three girls I trained with and the rest of my team mates were men of all different sizes. This was three years ago, when the women’s MMA community was no where near where it is today.
I took my first fight a short 8 months after I began training. It was boxing, and I understood I was to come to weigh ins at 145 pounds. Being my first fight and first time cutting weight I wasn’t 100% sure how to go about it the healthy way but of course I thought “oh 12 pounds. That’s easy. The guys I train with cut that in a day”. Basically all I remember is one week out still being 157 pounds, and starving/dehydrating myself for that entire week up until weigh ins. I showed up and made the 145 pounds. I felt terrible. I looked terrible, and ultimately lost that fight to a unanimous decision. However, I had a lot of fun boxing and couldn’t wait to fight again.
I then took a kickboxing match two months later once again at 145 pounds, that got switched to 150 pounds a few days before weigh ins (I can’t remember why). I didn’t change my weight cut technique much for that fight. However due to starving myself for the prior cut, I put on a few more pounds. I was walking around at 160 pounds (give or take). I remember putting myself on a diet of no carbs (eating as little as possible) and small amounts of water, in fear of holding extra weight. That was extremely miserable but once again I made the weight. That fight went to decision once again, however I won a unanimous decision. It was amazing how much I noticed the 5 pound difference and how much more energy I had for this bout.
After both of those fights, I ate everything and anything in sight. I gained a few pounds after both fights and that trend continued for a few more fights.
When I actually started competing in MMA, I would weigh in at 155. I felt better at that weight. I found the cuts to be easier as well. Sounds great right? Why would I want to fight at any other weight?
There was a few girls in my area that were around the same size as me. Finding opponents started to get more difficult as time went on. I had people start hounding me to drop to 145. I even had a promoter tell me that if I wanted to fight on his card again that I had to make 145 pounds because finding another girl at 155 was too hard. I had others tell me “Invicta FC only goes up to featherweight.” “UFC only has bantamweight.” “You need to drop a weight class or two. You’d be so much bigger than every girl at 135.” Nobody told me what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that the lightweight class was a good one for me. I wanted to hear that I could succeed at that weight and eventually make it to the pro level and fight for a major promotion. I don’t think anybody truly believed that though. I started to not even believe it for myself.
“This is my last fight at 155” I would say before every fight. “I’m trying 145 again next time to see how I feel”. By this time I had an EXTREMELY different weight cut plan. It consisted of eating healthy foods, and eating OFTEN. I felt better, I had more energy, and I was more optimistic (well, as optimistic as one can be during a weight cut because let’s be real here, who enjoys cutting weight?). But along with that, I had also started lifting as part of my regular schedule and had piled on quite a bit more weight. Instead of walking around 160 I was around 170. This accumulated over a year and a half to two years. I didn’t want to quit lifting either. I love it.
So I’d fight that fight at 155, win, and say to myself “ok great 145 next time. I’ll have a celebratory cheat week and go back to being healthy.” Well that week would turn in to a month. Or multiple months. Or just until the next fight which would just be set for 155 again because my weight would be high and 145 would be a stressful, unhealthy cut in the time period I had.
Not to mention I had taken a year off from fighting from February 2014 to when I fought again at the end of January 2015. During that time off all I did was lift, eat, go to school, work, and sleep. I was 185 pounds when I started training for my fight for January 2015, set for 155 pounds.
I’m sure you could imagine the looks on my coaches faces when they heard how much I weighed. It was kind of funny actually. I couldn’t believe it either. That’s the highest I’ve ever been.
That’s also around the time Invicta FC announced they were looking to open up a lightweight division.
FINALLY!!!! Some light at the end of the tunnel! You have no idea how exciting that was for me.
Anyway, I trained hard for my comeback fight. I lost the 30 pounds for it. Won it. Felt great. Not long after that I was offered another fight for a WOMENS LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE.
Another incredible moment because honestly that was the first time I had ever even heard of a 155 pound women’s belt. We took that opportunity, I trained harder than ever. Cut from 175 pounds to 155. Won the title in May 2015.
About a month or so after that I was contacted and offered another title fight for a different promotion for another women’s LIGHTWEIGHT title. I thought wow, I read that correctly I think, it said LIGHTWEIGHT!!!! Kind of amazing how fast it went from “you need to drop a weight class” to “would you like to fight for the first ever (insert promotion name here) women’s lightweight title?”
So I took that fight, lost a split decision but it was fight of the night. Can’t win them all, I try though. It was a blast.
But here’s the real kicker: one sunny July day I was hanging out with some of my friends when I noticed my phone (that had been on silent) had probably 7 missed calls from my manager Jason Adams and a text saying “call me now”, so I did. And the first thing he did was tell me to sit down. I already was.
He said to me “Invicta would like you to fight September 12 in Kansas City etc…”
I wish there was words that fit the emotion that I felt in that moment but there just isn’t.
I remembered all the times people told me I needed to move down a weight class because “there was no future for me at 155” or “there’s no opponents for me at 155” or “I’ll be better off below 155”.
I remembered all the times I wanted to quit. I remembered all the times I got my hand raised after a fight. I remembered my first day of training. I remembered all the injuries, the bad training days, the awesome training days. I couldn’t believe I was getting the phone call I had been waiting for.
So what’s the moral of this story?
It’s insane how much women’s MMA has evolved in such a short period. It’s insane how much it’s grown and opened up as a sport, and it’s only getting bigger day by day.
I guess I wanted to write this because I know there’s girls out there in higher weight classes that get so frustrated finding opponents, or thinking that they HAVE to move down weight classes if they ever want a chance in a bigger promotion, etc. butyou know what? You don’t. Just be where you’re happy, and where you feel good and perform your best at.
I could make 145 or even 135, but its not the place for me right now. It’s not where I perform the best or feel the best at this point.
With this sport constantly growing, it’s only going to be a short time before there’s weight classes all over the place just like the men’s.
So my fellow “heavier” ladies, you just keep fighting your fight and showing the world that the women know how to throw down. Our time is here and it’s an amazing time to be a woman in the MMA community.