Jenny Delgado, 24, will make her amateur mixed martial arts debut when she steps into the Maverick MMA heptagon on September 14. She has been training these past two years at Driven Gym in Woodbridge, New Jersey, in anticipation of making that leap into MMA competition.
A tear to her MCL would temporarily sideline Delgado, but upon her return and advice of head coach James Meals, the Drexel University graduate took a kickboxing bout to test the waters before making full commitment to MMA.
“I needed to reset,” Delgado said. “I didn’t want to do jump right in MMA when I came back because I wasn’t training jiu jitsu for a while. It’s very tweaky with the knee and all the bending and submissions possible, like kneebars. James recommended I do kickboxing first to get my feet wet.”
The injury did not require Delgado to undergo surgery but she did have to see a therapist, three days a week for four months, as well as a need for stem cell injection treatment.
Currently enrolled in nursing school, and working part-time as a nanny, Delgado does not appear to be your typical “fighter” but looks can be deceiving.
“I’ve always been into boxing since I was a little girl. I would stay up late and watch the fights with my dad,” she said. “When I started training, I think he was happy because he thought I was just learning to defend myself. He didn’t realize that I was eventually going to say, ‘I’m going to fight.’ He was nervous. He likes that I can defend myself, but he doesn’t like me fighting. He doesn’t want to see me get hurt. My mom is pretty awesome about it though. She has to calm her nerves but she likes to see me fight which is pretty awesome. My dad is supportive and he is there but he’s having a heart attack the entire time. (laughs)”
Delgado’s eventual start into the combat sports world came through working the media side of the sport.
“I wrote for a boxing website. I would get press passes and go to the events, ask questions, interview fighters, etc.,” she said. “I was knowledgeable about boxing. My friends would ask me who they should bet on. For the most part I was right. One of my friends asked me, ‘Why don’t you fight?”
After she graduated, Delgado joined Driven Gym almost immediately she said.
“The rest is history. I’m there (at Driven Gym) every day. I’m there more than my own house essentially,” Delgado said.
“Jamie Driver and Melissa Gardner are really helping me with wrestling and jiu jitsu. They are both purple belts. They have years of wrestling experience so I’ve been working really hard with them,” Delgado said. “They really make me step my game up.”
Along with Driver and Gardner, Delgado also credits Mike DeLouisa with preparing her for Beth Frey. Even with all the talent in the gym on her side, Delgado admits she doesn’t have much to go on.
“I really don’t know much about her,” she said of Frey. “I know she is a blue belt. One of my friends goes to her gym. I’m gonna bring my game and there’s no way she’s working harder than me. I’m definitely gonna win. There’s no way she is gonna outwork me. I don’t know who she is training with for this, but she’s not training with the level of people I’m training with. I’m hoping to knock her. If I can knock her down and submit her, get two in one, that’s a little much to ask for, but I am gonna get my hand raised.”
Maverick 14 takes place at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Visit Maverick MMA on Facebook for ticket info or get into contact with Jenny Delgado at Driven Gym.