Photos by William McKee
Driven Gym fighter Liz Welch (1-2-1) will be looking to record her second amateur win when she meets Marissa Jean Vanglahn at Maverick MMA 9 on September 22 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. I caught up with 36-year old school teacher during her lunch break earlier today to discuss the upcoming fight.
There is a little bit of a history here. Marissa fought your teammate Natalie Schlessinger back in June. Now if I remember correctly, you were there in attendance for the fight were you not? What did you take away from that fight between your teammate and your upcoming opponent?
“I think it was a great fight on my teammate’s part. I think that Marissa didn’t really want to stand with her and she would try to go for takedowns but Natalie stuffed them. I think it is going to be a very similar fight. It’s only been a couple of months for her since that fight and Natalie is my main training partner, so we have a very similar style.”
You are coming off a unanimous decision win over Rachel Penkower in a fight that also recently took place in June. What did you learn about yourself in that fight as it was your first win inside the cage?
“I think learned a lot actually about the mental part of the game. It is a really tough mental thing to be a part of this sport. I feel like all of that finally came together in this last fight. I know exactly what I need to do before every fight to feel perfect inside the cage. I felt the best I’ve ever felt for a fight, in this last fight. My training camp was the best. My diet was the best. I didn’t have to cut much weight. For this fight too, I only have to cut five pounds. Mentally, psyching myself up. Warming up. All those pieces came together and I just have to make sure I do all that the same from here on out.”
This will be your second time fighting for Maverick. You lost a tough split decision to Jessica Ruiz at Maverick MMA 3 last year. With that loss you started off your MMA career in the hole at 0-2. What was going through your head at that point before your first win and did you ever feel like giving up or walking away? If not, what inspired you to keep you moving forward?
“NO WAY!!!! I want to keep winning. I want to keep fighting. I want to go pro. I want to teach and coach eventually. That’s my main goal in this sport, to be a part of it forever. Obviously I can’t fight forever so I have to teach and coach. But I have to gain respect. Get a name in the sport before I start doing that. I’m not a person who gives up. I could never live with myself if I stop trying just because I had two losses. I’m old for the sport but my body is still letting me go. I just beat a 19 year old girl. I think that shows something. I’m going to keep going until my body doesn’t let me anymore. Win or lose I don’t care. I love it. It’s a part of my soul.”
You train at Driven Gym in Woodbridge. You have a lot of great fighters there to include your coach, James Meals. Sidney Outlaw, Jamie Driver, Mike DeLouisa, Natalie Schlessinger, Rich Patishnock is there now. These are just some of the competitors grinding it out there each and every day. What is like training at Driven and who are some of training partners that have really helped you out?
“Driven is my main gym. I’ll pop in other gyms occasionally but this is where I train. I love my team. They are amazing. They are my family. We all push each other. We laugh, cry, bleed, sweat, together. We are a very close team. Very supportive. We are constantly working hard. I had to take four months off to do a certification for my job. When I came back everybody was surpassing me. You can’t take any time off or these people are going to pass you. They never give up. They work so hard. I work a lot with Natalie, with Tyler, Melissa Gardner, Jamie Driver, everybody helps out. Rich Patishnock is a good coach too, everybody helps.”
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