It will be just about six months since Andrea Howland made her amateur debut in April when she steps into the cage for her third amateur bout on October 13. That doesn’t include when “Renegade” originally tried to make her amateur debut at the end of 2017. Since then it’s been quite a ride. She has had fights fall through, opponents missing weight and even a near death experience. She has learned a lot and has proven she is here to stay.
“It’s kind nice to be like, I’m here, I’m here to stay. I’m going to be competing with you guys, it’s like meeting your co-workers. It’s kinda like hey, what’s up, I’m in the building. The coolest part is kinda being like, I’ve finally arrived to the party.”
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When that cage door locks, i'm alone in there… it's an incredible combination of fear and the lust for violence… such a beautiful calm in a sea of chaos. I'm falling in love with this game and Oct 13th I want more. 👊🖤 Photo: @jennings.photo.graphy 📸🔥 #wmma #renegade #lightsout #thebeginning #newera #mytime #myfuture #myteam #wheninhere #cantstopwontstop #bantamweight #bangbang #pressuremakesdiamonds #bringtherukus #michiganmma #girlfight #imcomin
A lesson Howland has learned throughout her MMA journey is to stay in the moment.
“The one thing I’ve picked up on is that, you know with my past, crazy things can happen and so I think its important, one to take it fight by fight, day by day, training day by training day but also the value as the moment as its happening.”
In her last fight in August, Howland took on Atty Belanger, who was 2-0 at the time. It was an anticipated fight as the two fighters knew each other ahead of time and thought they would meet in the cage eventually. For Howland, it was an interesting experience because it was the first time a fight went off without a hitch.
“We were almost too respectful and so supportive that I don’t think I’ll have an experience like that in my career.”
“I think we both valued the opportunity and really respected what each other put into the sport.”
The respect started before the fight started and increased during their time in the cage togheter. It was a back and forth affair as both landed significant strikes. Howland earned the split decision victory, the whole time she felt she won but after watching it again realized it was closer than she thought. However, her goal is to never experience a split decision again.
“I had already decided the fight was going to go my way, that kinda mentality so it was a weird experience for them to go oh split. But when I went back and watched it I was like ok I can kinda see the argument when they think she won a round here or whatever. When I looked back and watched it a couple of times, I still felt like I won the fight but I feel like there were things I could have done things differently to make it a more solidified fight or to finish it.”
“I don’t want to be in that position again, split decisions are not a fun time for sure.”
Though she is taking a fight almost two months later and has been doing so for the entirety of her career so far, Howland believes she is able to make improvements in-between camps.
“I do feel like every camp, even the camps I had where the camps went through, I still feel like I made a leap forward, I evolved, I brought something new to the table for myself. Every time I come out I feel like I’m going to be a different fighter because I’m adding to the puzzle pieces, adding layers to things. I definitely think I’m going to be able to address the things that I think need the most attention. But once you get in there and take your fight you’re going to find new things that you need to fix and work on. That’s what I expect and I like that.”
But she likes the fact that she is taking fights again so quickly, its making her able to keep her momentum going.
“For some fighters it’s a fast turnaround, to me it’s a momentum thing, like a freight train, once you get that boy moving you don’t really want to stop it. As long as you’re healthy and things are working for you, I think you should ride the hype and just keep it moving.”
And keep it moving she will, Howland will look to go 3-0 when she fights on the debuting card of Lights Out Championship on October 13 against Melissa Acosta who is 1-0. Part of what is exciting about this fight for Howland is that the fight will be at bantamweight, the weight class she has wanted to fight in since her debut. Previously, she was forced to do catchweights because her opponents missed weight or there wasn’t enough time to make weight. She is excited to show she can make the weight and believes it will bring her more opportunities in the future.
“It will be so nice to officially make the cut so people know I am absolutely a bantamweight. I have been able to make the cut the whole time but it’s going to be nice to prove it.”
“I’m excited, I think this is going to open a lot more opportunities going forward. Just for the girls I’m competing against for them to be like ok, she officially made the weight it’s a real thing, she can do it. I think it’s important for anyone who takes the bantamweight division seriously, that they need to know that this is my division and this is where I want to be for the foreseeable future.
Acosta hasn’t fought since September of 2014. Her last fight was put online but it shows a wild and aggressive fight which she was able to win by submission. Howland watched the video but doesn’t think she can go off it much for this one.
“It’s kinda hard to draw anything from the video. The opponent she faced was I think even more wild. It’s kinda hard to tell her true technique because when faced with someone who’s just all over the board it throws off what you’d normally see in a normal, technical fight.”
What Howland did see in the video is a decent ground game from her opponent, but she believes this fight will be finished on the feet.
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Its crunch time… and even though each fight camp has brought out new challenges, im ready for this bout. I have an incredible support system including from my sponsor @nevertapcanada. Thank you for having such confidence in me so early on in my career. Come Oct 13th im gonna show you why that was a good move 😎💯 #wmma #LOC1 #NeverTapCanada #sponsoredathlete #fightcamp #fightfam #lightsout #thebeginning #newera #mytime #myfuture #countdowntothrowdown #MTT #bushidowarrior #detroit #grandrapids #michiganmma #fitfam #instafit #athletelife #mmamom #battleready #bantamweight Photo: @jennings.photo.graphy 🔥📸
“I expect to her to be a ground game player, I expect to kinda see some of that come out to date but that is also good for me cause I’m really finding a home for my striking and not that I don’t feel capable on the ground, I definitely do and I’ve been working on my ground game a lot since my debut fight. I think it’s going to be a good time for me to throw my hands and show what I can do.”
“I definitely want to make my presence known on the feet and really commit to the finish, finish on the feet, that’s what I’m really hoping for.”
More importantly, Howland wants people to know that not only can she go the distance but that she is a finisher.
“I’ve shown I can go the distance, I think it’s time that we make it a quick night for once.”
And after this fight, she is still looking for another fight before the end of the year. If she is able to complete her plan, that would put her at 4-0 at the end of 2018. At 28-years-old she got a late start in the game but she isn’t in a rush to turn professional either. It’s not only victories that will encourage her to turn professional, but finishes.
“I think 5-7 finishes.”
“If I can get 5-7 finishes that is going to be my personal indicator of ok, I need to start looking at the pros, I need to start looking at the competition level, looking at promotions that are a good stage for me to make that walk on, but I gotta do my job first and that’s going to be my goal.”