Photo Credit: Five Select
After dropping her first amateur MMA fight to then teammate Tabby Patterson, Rach Wiley has been on a roll, winning five straight, three of those in under two minutes, including her most recent bout, a rear naked choke victory over Meri Stewart. All this is made more impressive when you consider her job, working as an EMT and doing 24 hour shifts. Recently, many hardcore women’s MMA fans have taken to twitter and other social media to let Invicta FC, the dominant pro women’s MMA organization that they would like to see Rach in an Invicta cage. But how much of Rach Wiley do people really know? How much of her outside the cage do they know? I felt the best way for people to learn more about this amazing young athlete was for her to tell people herself. Also a way for her to express her desire to be in Invicta.
Q: You started out as a ring girl, what was it that got you interested in actually training?
A: As you know, I trained because I needed something to do to keep me from being fat, so I trained and eight months after that I got bored with just training. I saw all these people out of the gym fighting and said “hey, I can do that.” Since I was bored with just training I decided to take a fight in Kansas City for Blue Corner Battles against Molly Magnus. I think it was her first boxing match, or maybe she had one, and we fought it out for three rounds.
Q: Knowing what it was like from sitting there and knowing you would be getting hit in the face, were you at all scared?
A: Yeah, I was nervous. I thought I had an idea of what it was going to be like to train for a fight and cut weight, but I had no idea. I cut weight completely wrong. It was a week before the fight and I was still twelve pounds over. I went to eating and drinking as little as I could for an entire week. It was awful and I felt horrible. It was nothing like I thought it was gonna be, but it obviously wasn’t too bad because I’m still here three years later.
Q: You did your first MMA fight and lost to Tabby Patterson. After that was there any thought of “maybe this isn’t for me”?
A: I actually kickboxed after that. Not a lot of people know that. We fought for three rounds and I won that one by unanimous decision and that was super exciting. Then I went to MMA two months alter and fought Tabby and lost. I was like “I don’t know if this is really for me”, but I stayed with it. My head wasn’t in it. Not a lot of people know that me and Tabby trained together. I didn’t have an opponent and it was a week out from the fight and our coach said “why don’t you guys fight each other, I have had guys do that before. Just fight each other.” We did that and I got got choked out in the first round by probably one of the stupidest chokes, I pretty much just gave up. I don’t even remember the fight, I was on adrenaline, it was crazy.
Q: After you lost that one, did you get people thinking you were just the pretty Hooters waitress fighting for attention?
A: I did! I didn’t hear a whole lot of it but there are people that did and then there were people saying “you did great. You were doing great till you just got caught.” You know how people are like that. But there were people who were saying “she can’t do this.”
Photo Credit: Scott Stansell
Q: Did it annoy you or did it motivate you?
A: It kind of annoyed me, it hurt my feelings. I knew I was better than that and that I could do better. I knew I never wanted to stop fighting with a bad record. I trained again and did better.
Q: Now, how we initially met was it seemed that people talked more about your looks and not your fighting and I wanted to do something on your fighting. Was there part of you that knew you had to get away from people just writing about your looks in order to be treated seriously?
A: Right! I first had something written about me. It was the weirdest most bizarre article, it was obviously about looks. I thought “this is kinda cool, someone wanted to write something about me” but at the same time I was like “what the heck is this?” Then the same person just kept writing about my looks and my body and I was like “are you serious right now?” It was really really strange to me. It didn’t make me upset, it was just strange to me. I didn’t put too much thought into it and laughed it off. Then I had an article written about me fighting after I got a win against Misty Blevins. That was cool and people responded good to it and a lot of positive things came out of it. I figured I didn’t want people to like me cause they think I’m pretty, I don’t want people to see me like that. I don’t want them to just say “she’s cute, I am gonna go for her”. I want them to say “she is pretty legit, she can do this.”
Q: Since then you have won five fights in a row. How is the Rach Wiley of right now better than the Rach Wiley that lost to Tabby?
A: My mental is insanely better. It It has a lot of work to do still, but mentally I am in a lot better place then I was then. Back then when I was training to fight it would consume my entire life. I have grown as a fighter because I have a lot better skill then back then obviously. I am lot better at the whole weight cut thing, at training. A big part of the mental part is back then, like I said with the adrenaline, I don’t even remember walking out for that fight, I don’t remember the fight, directly after the fight, nothing. Now, my last fight against Meri, I walked out and was like “why am I so calm, this is weird”. I almost felt I needed to walk out again because it was too weird. I walked out, took my time, getting my shirts and pants and shoes off, hugging my teammates. I got in the ring and they announced us and I was like “any day now”, it was crazy, just real slow and calm. Back then everything was super fast and crazy.
Q: After that first fight, if someone said you will win five in a row, three in under two minutes, be where you are now, would you have believed you could be that good?
A: I would have laughed and said “really?” I hoped so, I wouldn’t be mad. I don’t know if I would have believed them but I wouldn’t be mad, I’ll take it.
Q: You have like fourteen sponsors now, which means a lot of people who have businesses want to attach their names to you. Them having that faith, what does that mean to you?
A: It is crazy. Even a year ago if you would have told me I would have all these sponsors I would have laughed and called you crazy. It is really cool because I would watch UFC and say “look at those shorts, they have so many sponsors” and wonder how they got people to do that. It is cool. A huge thing is the people in Topeka that want to sponsor me. That means a lot to me, and the ones not in Topeka. It always feels good to represent my home town. It is also cool to have people from all over the United States that want to sponsor me. It doesn’t seem real.
Photo Credit: Scott Stansell
Q: Whenever I tell you we have a sponsor you seem surprised. Is it still surprising to you?
A: Yeah! Another things is how easy it seems like it is for you to go get these people for me. It feels like you don’t have to beg them. Maybe you do, but it seems like it is super easy for you and I am like “what the hell are you saying to these people?” It is crazy. But it is awesome.
Q: You have gained a huge amount of fans. We have talked about the one picture of you posted, and it was a picture of you all dressed up and had around eight hundred likes. There are a lot of them using social media to push for you in Invicta. Sponsors is one thing, it is a mutually beneficial relationship, but fans, they don’t get anything out of it, so how nice does it feel to have them backing you like that?
A: It is crazy, it is the only word I have. I never would have thought it would happen. I don’t even consider myself to be very popular, a huge name, so the people who support me, sponsor me, retweet me, like my stuff on Facebook, like my fan page and comment on my stuff, every single one of them, I appreciate it. They don’t have to do that and they are doing it. It is awesome, unbelievable. I wish I had a way to repay all of them, but I don’t know how, so I am just going to keep trying to get better because that is the only way I know how to repay them. It is really cool that people want to do that. It makes you feel really good when people support you or tweet “let’s get Rach to Invicta” and thirty people favorite it. Thirty is a decent number, it’s not the biggest number, but I am surprised I get four.
Q: You also work as an EMT, how did you get into that?
A: When I was younger I always thought it would be cool to be a paramedic. Then as I grew up I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At the end of high school I though about firefighting but didn’t know how to go about it. I went to the fire department in the area I live and applied and they hired me. They said I had a year to get my EMT. I had no desire to be an EMT, I didn’t want to do anything with the medical side. But I had to, all firefighters in the state of Kansas are Emergency Medical Technicians because we also run medical calls here in Topeka. We first respond with American Medical Responses. I went and got my EMT certification and at first I didn’t want to do it. Once I got into the class, I really started to like it. It was cool to learn how to save somebody and I was soaking up all the information, I was really interested. Once I graduated from that class, it was a couple months and I was still working at Hooters. Obviously Hooters is not a job I want for a career and the fire department is something I can see myself having a career in. I got out of class in June and in August American Medical Response hired me and I am a full-time EMT for them. I love it and am also part time for my fire department. I was in school a little bit ago for fire classes that you have to have and that is why I was out for awhile, had to get my priorities straight.
Q: You work insane hours, how hard is it to balance training with that?
A: It is difficult sometimes because my schedule changes pretty much every week. I work three days on and then four days off. I work an entire day and then a day off and then work an entire day and then a day off and then an entire day and four days off. So, it changes every week and I don’t know how to plan stuff. It is hard because Tuesdays and Thursdays are huge Muay Thai nights for me and sometimes my schedule will make it so I work those days. But I am fortunate to have the team and coaches that I do because my teammates will want to train outside of regular gym hours so we can go do that or my Muay Thai coach is awesome, he’ll always be down to meet up and work with us, especially if we have a fight coming up, he will make time to do one on one with you. I am super fortunate to have people like that. It’s not that bad, you just have to have the motivation to want to do it. You can have a good day and not run a ton of calls and sleep five hours that night or you can have a bad day and get slammed and be up for twenty-six hours straight and just want to go home and go to sleep.
Q: We talked about people pushing you for Invicta, in your mind are you ready for Invicta?
A: Yes! It would have to put more time into what I do, just take what I do now and intensify it and pushy myself, which is fine. I would be more motivated. I am very fortunate that people even think I deserve to be there, it is awesome to me. People here in Topeka, fighters and coaches from other gyms come up to me and say “I see people are pushing you for Invicta, have they signed you yet?” I say “no, but we are working on it and hopefully some day.” I am excited and whenever they hit me or you up, it would be awesome.
Q: For you, what would making your pro debut for Invicta mean?
A: I would freak out, in a good way. They are huge and all the huge names have been there, it would be a huge blessing to get my start there. I would be honored to be an Invicta fighter. It is hard to even imagine it happening, it s a dream that I sit here and think about.
Q: Anyone you want to thank or shout out?
A: My gym and coaches at Midwest Combat Academy, Shanon Woodward, Wayman Carter and Cody Criqui. My teammates, they are awesome, you my manager, my family, everybody that has supported me and been pushing for Invicta and of course my sponsors Sicchic Fight Wear, Tan Lines Topeka, No Mercy Fight Apparel, Michelle’s Magic Morsels, MMA Roadhog, Nobility Construction, Jayhawk Body Shop and Glass, Core Prodigy, Battle Born Clothing, Fighter Alias.