At just 20-years-old Invicta FC strawweight Kay Hansen already has nine professional MMA bouts to her name. Hansen says she was inspired by WMMA trendsetter Ronda Rousey and began training right before her 16th birthday. She fell in love with the sport and hasn’t stopped training or competing since.
Hansen made her pro debut for the all-female promotion Invicta FC. The young fighter had nothing but positive things to say about the organization and Invicta president Shannon Knapp, stating “I can’t praise Invicta FC enough with how they operate and treat their athletes. Shannon is one of the most genuine promoters you’ll ever meet. She treats me as one of her own and always looks after her athletes. I wish I could fight for Invicta FC the rest of my career if the money was correct. I want to become their 115lb champion then see from there. I think financially and legacy wise, the UFC is the long term goal, but I can’t praise Invicta enough. I hope one day in the future, if, when I’m in the UFC, I can work for Shannon.”
Like pretty much everyone else Hansen has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and shared her experience, stating “COVID-19 has for sure affected my training and fighting. I’m in the gym most hours of the day, whether it’s taking classes or doing my own workouts. The pandemic has changed this. One of my favorite aspects of training is group training. Having many people and styles to train and work with, however obviously I am very limited to that at the moment. I am lucky enough to be quarantined with my boyfriend, who is a high level jiu jitsu competitor, so we can work with each other, however its not the same. I still have access to my gym (because I work there), so I can use the mat space for small kettle bell workouts and things of that nature, but I do miss going to the actual gym with heavy weights and a bunch of workout equipment. I’ve just been doing at home workouts with what I have.”
The Invicta standout admits while she’s doing her best to stay optimistic, it’s a little saddening to not know when she’ll get to fight again and if she’ll be able to have a proper camp beforehand.
Hansen says when it comes to women fighting, she feels MMA is progressive, especially in comparison to boxing, revealing “I’ve experienced the boxing scene and women aren’t respected, it’s actually sad. I didn’t feel respected or valued when I boxed. Obviously there are ignorant people in the MMA world, but as a whole I’ve never felt disrespected.”
While she had praise for the WMMA culture she also revealed some discontent and elaborated on something she’d like to see change, revealing “One thing I’d like to see change is the fact that women who show their bodies off tend to get more attention and opportunities than those who are more conservative. Of course, you do you, I’m not talking down on anyone who takes that approach, but I see a lot of women who don’t get opportunities they deserve because they don’t ‘look the part.’ And if they do get the opportunity, they have to work a lot harder than someone who is willing to post provocative content. I just wish it was all about performance and skill and not whether or not you’re willing to post yourself in lingerie. Obviously, opportunities aren’t based solely off of this, but it does for sure help.”
Though young, Hansen has already had her fair share of obstacles to overcome and shared what keeps her motivated in trying times, “One thing that motivates me is for sure my teammates at the gym. Year round, fight or no fight, they’re there pushing me and helping me improve. From my coaches, to my boyfriend, teammates, and family I just feel like I have a huge support system. I’m blessed to have so many people around me who will do anything to help me succeed. I’m surrounded by a lot of selfless people.”
The Invicta strawweight says her mentality has matured dramatically since she began training and even since last year, stating “ I used to want to win all the time and that’s it, but now it’s more about challenging myself and finding the best me.”
Hansen says she just wants to be the best fighter she can be and watch herself grow, “On and off the mats I just want to have a positive impact and put on exciting fights.”
Cameron Pollard is a freelance writer and WMMA competitor from Memphis, Tennessee, who is passionate about telling in-depth, fighter conscious stories.