self-defense, mental toughness, Hybrid MMA, Ashlee Evans-Smith,

Mental Toughness in Martial Arts: Interviews with Some of the Best in Women’s MMA

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Every child is asked this question many times throughout his or her life. Many respond with answers such as “a professional baseball player,” “a professional basketball player,” or, more generally, “a professional athlete.” Many young children watch their favorite sports religiously and see their favorite athletes as “God-like.” These kids fantasize about one day being as great as their heroes.

As a young girl, I was always asked about the future and about what I dreamed of becoming. There were many school projects based on this topic and every family member I have has asked me this question multiple times. Even strangers used to ask me this question when I was a child. My answer was always the same. “I want to be a professional athlete.” I would say it every time without hesitation and I would say it confidently.

While the general answer “professional athlete” never changed, the sport I was going to compete in did. When I was young, I was going to be a ballerina. When my father took me down my first black diamond ski trail, I was going to be a professional skier. My mother bought me my first pair of spiked track shoes and I was going to be a runner. After seeing Diana Taurasi play for UConn, I was going to play for UConn and then I was going to be in the WNBA. When I saw Mia Hamm play, like many young girls at the time, I was going to be a professional soccer player. I was passionate about sports. My focus, however, was a bit scattered.

When I discovered martial arts, I knew I discovered my passion. I trained in front of the mirror for hours after practice every day, going over everything that I learned. My first coach, Marc Lehr, put countless hours into me and believed in me when I wasn’t quite sure I believed in myself. This is when I realized the power of a good coach, and even more importantly, how much more important the mental is than the physical when it comes to being an athlete.

For a while, it was hard for me to look at the best athletes in the world as human just like me. I would hold them on a high pedestal and it sometimes caused me to have doubt in myself. Many people assume the greatest athletes are just naturally the best in the world. As if they were born on a basketball court or in a ring. People fail to realize that even the greatest are just like everyone else. What separates a great athlete from a “regular” person is his or her mindset.

When I first sat and thought about how important an athlete’s mindset was, it was like a lightbulb moment. I’d hear quotes here and there about it, but I never really let it sink in.

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson brought everything into perspective for me. An athlete goes the extra distance physically and mentally. That little extra push. That is the separation. There is no magic formula. These people are not built in a factory destined for greatness from birth. These great athletes are every day people who just think a little bit differently.

Sports have always been male-dominated, martial arts especially. I have always been fascinated by what drives women in martial arts to compete in such male-dominated sports. These sports are not only male-dominated, but also (in my opinion) the most taxing sports both physically and mentally. With so much against them, how do these women do it? Where do women get the mental toughness to compete?

Training hours a day, road work, strength and conditioning and diet. We have heard it all before. But, as I mentioned before, it is mindset that separates the best from the rest. Being an athlete is already very hard mentally. Being an athlete with the odds stacked against you is even harder. Therefore, I decided to ask some of the best female martial artists about the mental aspects of fighting. I interviewed a champion kickboxer, champion boxers, UFC athletes and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion. I believe both women and men in any field can take something from their stories.

 

Jennie Nedell

Jennie Nedell

Quick Facts:

Sport: Kickboxing
Hometown: Lindenhurst, NY
Age: 39
Gym: Longo Weidman MMA

Instagram: Kungfujenda, Twitter: bxrgrl18

Titles: NYS Champion (3 title defenses), Battle of the Millennium Women’s Champion (3 title defenses)

 

 

 

 

Questions:

ST: Why do you fight? What motivates you?

JN: “I started to train just to lose weight and fell in love with the sport and the progression of evolving as a fighter. I have so many things that motivate me, but my main motivation is my Dad. Before he passed, he said ‘if you’re going to do something, you have to give it 120% always. Don’t let you be the reason you fail.'”

ST: Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

JN: “I don’t know if I can say I overcame the loss of my Dad, but that was a big obstacle on so many levels for me. I had 2 fights before he was taken from us on 9/11. I had only trained a month or so before my first fight, so when he saw my progression from fight 1 to 2, he was excited. He said, “now let’s really do this.” He passed one month later. I wallowed in self-pity for a while. I went down a dark path doing stupid things and then realized he wouldn’t have wanted me to give up. I decided to go back to college and that changed my life. My softball coach took a chance on me and gave me the ball to pitch for her team. In a sense, she gave me the courage to take my life back. She wasn’t even going to coach that year, or at all, but she heard my story and wanted to help me honor my dad on the field. This eventually lead me back in to the ring. It’s amazing how other peoples’ selflessness can help you reach deeper in to your own self. So, I don’t know if I “overcame” his passing, I just changed my view and let this become my drive, instead of becoming my excuse.”

Jennie Nedell

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

JN: “Being a female athlete can be quite the task at times, mentally and physically. In my case, as a female fighter, weight-cut and dieting are much harder than for males. It took me years to realize you need to train to fight, not train to cut weight. It takes me a month to lose what most men can lose in a few days.
As a female, opportunities tend to fall short if you aren’t posting half-naked pictures all over social media. I will never sacrifice who I am or what I stand for to get “likes” or attention. I fight for the love of the sport, not for someone else to validate it for me.”

“People also tend to stereotype women and try to dictate how women should be. Being a female athlete is hard, but you need to have thick skin. It comes down to being comfortable in your own skin. You must be willing to fight for your spot not just as a fighter, but as a female athlete as well.”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

JN: “Hahaha so many! One is when I find out I have a fight, I won’t get a pedicure until fight day. In my craziness, I feel my chipped, jaded and paint missing nail polish shows my hard work. Then fight day, my hard work is done. Now we have fun. I get a fresh coat and I am ready to kick faces.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

JN: “Yes, I have lost. In my opinion, there are two ways of losing. Unfortunately, there are politics in everything and having a win taken from you is hard. An example of that is represented in my teammate Merab Dvalishvili’s last fight. The other way (of losing) is when you just don’t show up on fight day the way you had hoped.

“I put my heart and soul into every camp, so when I don’t perform how I did in camp or had planned to, it is hard to swallow.

“Also, I never want to let anyone down. I have a ton of support from both my team and family, so it hurts more emotionally to lose than it ever could physically. It is almost like a bad break up.

“I’m lucky to have a great team that grounds me. We go over what went wrong, how to fix it and how to leave it behind. If you don’t let it go, you can’t grow and learn from it.

“I have honestly grown so much as a person and fighter since Ray Longo took me under his wing. It is true that everything you learn in martial arts can and does transfer over into real life.”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

JN: “I think it has a lot to do with your confidence in your training and skill, but also it has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with. I do better under pressure. As a pitcher, I’d love being called in with the bases loaded 2 outs winning run on 3rd. It’s a different type of push. It’s that do or die. You have it in you. It’s a way to silence the critics without saying a word. Let your actions speak for you and if you have the right inner circle with the same goals around you, it makes all the difference in the world.”

Jennie Nedell

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

JN: “Yes absolutely. It was my first fight back after my dad passing away. It was a 9/11 benefit on PPV. I found out after the fight, with my nose broken and jaw dislocated, that in Canada, you can be an amateur kickboxer and a professional boxer at the same time. My opponent stood bouncing in between rounds on the minute break. It was the second round and the second time my opponent fought that night. She hit me right in the sweet spot and I almost went down. But, in that moment, I scanned the crowd and saw my Mom cover her eyes. In that very moment, I found that reason ‘why’ I didn’t go down and pushed through for a victory. It was proof that if you have heart and want it bad enough, it is yours for the taking. That opponent is now the reason I stand between rounds.”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?

JN: “Never listen to the nay sayers. If you love to train and compete, then do that. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Ignore the ones that say you can’t and surround yourself with the ones that make you believe you can, even when you aren’t sure. Stay committed and be consistent. Consistency is huge in my opinion. A trainer can only teach you so much. It’s up to you to work it until it becomes second nature. If you’re always strengthening your mind and body, then you’re always ready.”

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

JN: “Yes. I Fight on July 20 for Glory at MSG. You can contact me through social media to purchase tickets or call Longo Weidman MMA.”

 

Katlyn Chookagian

Katlyn Chookagian

Quick Facts:

Nickname: Blondefighter

Sport: MMA (UFC)

Record: 10-1-0
Hometown: Quakertown, PA (Now living in Kenilworth, NJ)
Age: 29
Gym: Nick Catone MMA/Renzo Gracie

Instagram/Twitter: Blondefighter

Titles: PA Golden Gloves Champion, CFFC Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion

 

 

 

Questions:

ST: Why do you fight? What motivates you? Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

KC: “I fight because it is my passion. I have always been doing some sort of Martial Art since I was 4 years old. I don’t know anything else. Training and evolving as a fighter have made me be a better person on and off the mat, even if I had never competed. The things I’ve learned through martial arts, such as discipline and self-confidence, have been so valuable in my life. These are things I could have never learned in any school or through any team sports. I think self-confidence, especially today, is a huge issue women face.  A lot of my friends that don’t train martial arts are constantly comparing themselves to ‘social media models.’  Martial arts have given me the opportunity to be around so many different types of people that are quickly humbled by technique and hard work on the mat, rather than a meaningless Instagram picture.”

Katlyn Chookagian

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

KC: “I think the hardest part about being a female athlete is getting the same respect from people as men do. I can’t speak for other sports, but with fighting, I find that a lot of other athletes and trainers do not take the women as seriously as the men.  Luckily for me, MMA and the UFC have equal pay for both men and women and, in the past few years, have equally promoted both men and women in the sport. Although I haven’t received much negative reactions or energy with fighting, I do think it took me until I had a few fights in the UFC to get respect from almost everyone.”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

KC: “The day of the fight, I hand write things I am going to do in the fight, from walking out to getting my hand raised.  I also write people I am thankful for that helped and supported be for that camp. I have a box where I keep almost all these papers. It is fun to look back on and reflect whether or not I followed that game plan.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

KC: “I’ve lost a few times in boxing and kickboxing fights. But, because I was younger, I don’t really remember them or think that they really affected me much. As far as my MMA career, I have lost once. As cliché as it sounds, I think it was the best thing to happen to me. My loss was a split decision in my second UFC fight and it was the first MMA fight ever in New York at MSG. I fought a veteran in the sport that fought in the UFC before I even had an amateur fight.  I definitely gave my opponent too much respect and held back a little, losing the first two rounds closely.  In the final round, I decided to just go all out, and I almost knocked her out. Although it wasn’t enough to get the decision, it taught me to believe in my abilities regardless who I am fighting. Even though I lost that fight, I gained more confidence as a fighter through that fight than any of my wins.”

 

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

KC: “Luckily, I don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure from fights. Since I was 7 years old, I’ve competed in karate tournaments and then kickboxing and boxing fights in high school. I think that having so much experience at one on one competitions throughout my whole life has helped me deal with pressure. In my opinion, dealing with pressure to perform is totally different for everyone. In school, I would get more nervous to have to read aloud in class than to fight in front. of crowds.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

KC: “I can’t think of a moment in competition where I felt like giving up. However, there are many times in training when I am getting beat up and feel like stopping and walking off the mat. When I’m getting crushed in training and on the verge of breaking out in tears, I try to mentally focus. I put myself in a fight and think “what if this happens and a win is on the line?” I obviously can’t start crying and walk off. Mental visualization has helped me push through these tough sessions when I am doing bad or when I just don’t feel like training that day.”

@joerogan laaaaaves question mark kicks ❓❓❓

1,966 Likes, 70 Comments – Katlyn Chookagian (@blondefighter) on Instagram: “@joerogan laaaaaves question mark kicks ❓❓❓”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?

KC: “The best advice I could give to young girls that want to start martial arts would be to not compare yourself to anyone else. When you start, you will know nothing and you’ll feel like everyone else is so much better than you. But, if you keep showing up and practicing, you will learn. Martial Arts may look brutal and scary, but anyone can do it if they put in the time, regardless of size or athleticism.”

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

KC: “My next fight will me on July 28 in Calgary, Canada against Alexis Davis.”

 

 

Sonya Lamonakis

Sonya LamonakisQuick Facts:

Nickname: The Scholar

Sport: Boxing

Record: 10-2-3
Hometown: Born in Mitiline, Greece. Raised in Turner Falls, MA. NYC since 2005
Age: 43
Gym: Gleason’s Gym

Instagram: slamonakisproboxer, Twitter: Lamonakis

Titles: Former IBO World Champion, NY State Champion

 

 

 

QUESTIONS:

ST: Why do you fight?

SL: “I love the discipline, the boxing family and the journey in my life.”

ST: What motivates you?

SL: “The Thrill”

ST: Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

SL: “Why I started boxing, because I was robbed at knife point.

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

SL: “Equality”

TIME TO GET BACK IN FIGHT SHAPE—–🥊🥊🥊🥊💯💯💯💯✅✅✅✅✅✅✅Breaking in my @adonis_garcia_ceo @adonisgarciaofficial @adonis_garcia_ceo new design new feel sick color @adonisgarciaofficial @adonisgarciaofficial getting back in shape for June 10 #bloodsweatandtears #boxingnews #boxinghype #boxingfan #gleasonsgym #worldchampion #hardworker #consistency #boxinggloves #adonisgarcia #adonisgarcia

510 Likes, 53 Comments – Sonya Lamonakis SCHOLAR (@slamonakisproboxer) on Instagram: “TIME TO GET BACK IN FIGHT SHAPE—–🥊🥊🥊🥊💯💯💯💯✅✅✅✅✅✅✅Breaking in my @adonis_garcia_ceo…”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

SL: “Focus and clear mind”

ST: Have you ever lost?

SL: “2 times”

ST: how did you overcome defeat?

SL: “I learn from defeats. Nothing to get over. You just have to look at what you did, how did you perform? How can you improve?”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

SL: I’m a teacher, I’m used to performing in front of middle school children, they are the most critical.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

SL: “When I fought veteran Martha Salazar and she handed me my first loss. I knew I was losing the fight, I just couldn’t land as clean as her, but I pushed myself. I had my Mom in my corner too. I just dug deep and kept pushing forward. I did it, I lost the fight. I won inside me after a tough fight like that, when I’m used to kicking chick’s asses, because I knew I could be on the other end and still come out clean.”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?

SL: “Make it a hobby, not your life. Get your education. Your education gives you choices in life. Without it, you will have limited choices. I encourage all women to train. It boosts confidence, egos, feelings, serotonin, it’s amazing.”

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

SL: “I have 3 weeks more off because I’m nursing an injured tendon on my ankle. After I heal, I will prepare for another world title in the end of July.”

 

 

Melissa St-Vil

Melissa St-Vil

Quick Facts:

Sport: Boxing

Record: 10-3-4
Hometown: Born in Long Island, NY, then moved to Haiti, now residing in Brooklyn, NY
Age: 34
Gym: Gleason’s Gym

Instagram: killer_mel Twitter: Melissastvil8

Titles: Holds four belts (WBC, WIBA, IBO, WIBF), ranked #3 in the world, first Haitian Female Champion

Melissa St-Vil

Questions:

ST: Why do you fight?

MS: “For me, boxing was a safe-haven away from all the drama around me.”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

MS: “Before a fight, I just pray to god and stay relaxed.”

Melissa St-Vil

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

MS: “My last fight was a month ago in Finland. I was robbed. The feeling sucks, but it will not stop me from achieving my goal of becoming world champion.”

So where was the slip ?? @wbcboxing

1,410 Likes, 264 Comments – Melissa. st-vil (@killer_mel) on Instagram: “So where was the slip ?? @wbcboxing”

 

Stacia Suttles

Stacia Suttles

Quick Facts:

Nickname: The Natural

Sport: Boxing
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Age: 23
Gym: Mendez Boxing Gym

Instagram: StaciaTheNatural Twitter: StaciaSuttles YouTube: StaciaTheNaturalSuttles

Titles: 2015 NY Daily News Golden Gloves Silver Medalist, 2x New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion (2016/2017), 2016 National Golden Gloves Silver Medalist, 2016 USA National Champion, and 2x 2017 International Medalist (gold and bronze)

 

Questions:

ST: Why do you fight? What motivates you? Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

SS: “My biggest goal right now is to compete in the 2020 Olympics and bring home a gold medal. The reason I keep going is because once I set a goal for myself, I can’t stop until I reach it. Most importantly, through my journey, I’ve been able to motivate and inspire others and I want to keep inspiring others to go after their dreams. I think the best way to do that is to keep striving towards mine and hopefully show others that anything is possible with hard work.”

“Before I started boxing, I was going through a tough two-year period. If it weren’t for those two years, I probably would’ve never even started boxing. I believe everything happens for a reason and although I’ve gone through tough times before boxing, it has made me a better person for my boxing journey.”

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

SS: “The hardest part about being a female athlete is people over look you or underestimate you. Many people don’t expect me to be a fighter, let alone a good fighter. Another struggle is cutting weight for a fight. Women hold on to more water naturally and during our menstrual cycles, it makes it so much harder for women to cut weight. I think this is overlooked but should be taken into consideration for things like the Olympics, which only has 3 out of 10 weight classes available for women to compete.”

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

SS: “I meditate and visualize, and I listen to music.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

SS: “Yes, I’ve lost. I’m currently in a “winning drought” at the moment haha. I’ve lost three fights this year back to back. But, I always say “never a loss, always a lesson.” I’m very critical of myself and do take my losses hard. However, I look at every loss as a lesson. With each fight that I lose, I always learn something. I always remember that win or lose, the experiences that I have now will make me a better fighter when it really counts for 2020.”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

SS: “Meditating and living in the moment. Meditating helps me to control the things that I have control over. So, when I do get in the ring, I perform to the best of my ability without thinking so much.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

SS: “In 2017, I competed in my first international tournament in Bulgaria. During this tournament, I was literally just “going with the flow” to see how far I would go. In the semi-finals, I competed against Spain and in the last round, I was dead tired. I knew I did well in the first two rounds, but I wanted to finish strong. My arms were tired and I was breathing heavy, but the 10 second bell rang and I just told myself, “give it everything you have, get in the finals.” I had my opponent up on the ropes and I kept throwing punches until the final bell. What got me through was the idea of giving it my all. I was dead tired, but I knew I had a little more left in me to finish strong.”

Some mittwork from last week 👊💪 Working to improve everyday 🥇👀⏩ * #StaciaTheNatural

288 Likes, 5 Comments – Stacia “The Natural” Suttles 🥊 (@staciathenatural) on Instagram: “Some mittwork from last week 👊💪 Working to improve everyday 🥇👀⏩ * #StaciaTheNatural”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?

SS: “Go for it! I owe a lot to my martial arts background that I began at 4 years old. You’ll learn a lot about martial arts and about yourself. I definitely recommend martial arts to any and every one. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl.”

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

SS: “I don’t have any fights coming up that are verified. Hoping to be competing internationally soon, but I’m training and staying ready for anything that may come up.”

 

Ronica Jeffrey

Ronica Jeffrey

Quick Facts:

Sport: Boxing
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Age: 35
Gym: Gleason’s Gym

Instagram: queen_ronij

Titles Previously Held: NABF, WIBA, WIBF, WBU, 2 WBC silver belts

 

 

 

Questions:

ST: Why do you fight? What motivates you? Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

RJ: “I fight ‘cause it releases a certain type of person out of you. I enjoy the technique of things and playing the chess game that allows you to try and figure a person out. I am motivated by the people that put the time and belief in me. My obstacle is myself ‘cause that’s the person I’m trying to prove things to.”

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

RJ: “The hardest part about being a female athlete is being over shadowed by the men. Always proving and proving, but not being recognized or compensated for the amount work we actually do.”

#tbt to last year me and Coach Cat working on one of those stormy days…. #fighttofit #athlete #womenempowerment #boxing #combat #queenation #afrofitness -Queen👑

277 Likes, 19 Comments – @queen_ronij on Instagram: “#tbt to last year me and Coach Cat working on one of those stormy days…. #fighttofit #athlete…”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

RJ: “No, I don’t have a pre-fight ritual. I just wanna be surrounded by my people.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

RJ: “Yes, I’ve lost 1 and it really hit me. It took me a little while to get over it. I had to really pull myself together.”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

RJ: “I handle the pressure by reminding myself about my journey and mentally talking to myself. It really don’t go away until the walk to the ring.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

RJ: “There was a time when my legs was just not under me at all. It felt like I was walking in sand, but I had to pull it together. At some point, I had to dig deep down inside and make up my mind to just be the person that I’m not and brawl my way to end. My trainer calls it ‘taking it to the STREETS.’”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?

RJ: “I will tell young girls to do it because they love it and because it makes them happy. Being in love with it is what’s going to make them a great fighter.”

 

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

RJ: “Yes, I fight May 18th at Club Amazura in Queens, NY.”

 

 

Jessica Eye

Jessica EyeQuick Facts:

Sport: MMA (UFC)

Nickname: Jessica Evil Eye
Hometown: born in Barberton, Ohio, graduated from Rootstown High School
Age: 31
Gym: Strongstyle Martial Arts and Fitness Center

Instagram/Twitter: jessicaevileye

Titles: Amateur Golden Gloves Champion, NAAFS Amateur Champion, Pro ROC Champion, many grappling accolades

 

ST: Why do you fight? What motivates you?

JE: “I fight for myself and my future family. My future and ability to take care of myself are my motivation.”

ST: Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?
JE: “When I was 16 years old, I was struck by a drunk driver. My father was involved and sustained a lot of leg injuries. I sustained a broken back and foot.”

Awesome week training I can’t wait to showcase my abilities soon !! Thank you to my teammate @lukall170 Luta livre black belt and 7-0 pro for help with leg attacks. @seanshelby @danawhite @ufc really need to get this guy on the rooster 👊🏼💪🏼 #UFC #fighter #mma #leglocks #cleveland #jessicaeye

972 Likes, 23 Comments – Jessica Eye (@jessicaevileye) on Instagram: “Awesome week training I can’t wait to showcase my abilities soon !! Thank you to my teammate…”

ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?
JE: “The hardest thing about being a female athlete was people not believing I was capable of greatness just because I was a female.”

ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?
JE: “I used to, but I got rid of them.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

JE: “Yes, I have lost multiple times in the UFC Bantamweight division, a division I should’ve never been a competitor in. But, I am very fortunate that those losses made me stronger and realize my greatness. Plus, I knew that UFC would add the flyweight division eventually.”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?
JE: “When you don’t try to meet everybody else’s expectations.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?
JE: “Absolutely when I took a couple of those losses at 135 lbs. I knew that I was amazing fighter, but I knew that I was at the wrong weight class. I truly believed that the flyweight division was coming and that always kept me going.”

ST: What advice would you give a young girl interested in starting martial arts?
JE:
“First, I would ask her if it’s something she’s doing to make herself feel better or to prove others wrong. Once we identified why she was doing it, I would be able to give her the best advice. If this is what she wants to do, she must believe in herself fully so that others will too.”

ST: Do you have any fights coming up?

JE: “June 23, UFC 132 Singapore against Jessica Clark.”

Jessica Eye vs Jessica-Rose Clark

 

Danielle Nicole Kelly

Danielle Nicole Kelly

Quick Facts:

Sport: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Age: 23
Gym: Renzo Gracie Philly

Instagram/: daniellekelly

Titles: Grapplersquest, NAGA, Rise Invitational Champion, 1st place in local IBJJF tournaments, Pan Ams silver medalist, High School Girls PA,NJ,NY,FL,ND state wrestling champion. Plus many other titles in wrestling.

ST: Why do you compete? What motivates you? Can you give me an example of an obstacle in life you overcame that has helped motivate you?

DK: “I compete for the fun and competitive part of it. It motivates me that I can do better and overcome all the rough obstacles I have gone through in the last 8 years. Competing to get known and get paid motivates me the most! But, having fun is the most important.”
ST: What is the hardest part about being a female athlete?

DK: “Sometimes people will not take you seriously, until you prove them wrong. Being a serious athlete  intimidates some people.”


ST: Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

DK: “I always tell myself and my Mom and Dad that they will not beat me-whoever I’m going up against -and that I will win. Just a mental ritual I’ve had for sometime.”

ST: Have you ever lost? If so, how did you overcome defeat? If not, how would you overcome defeat?

DK: “I train really hard, have a cheat day/week, then I start to tell myself they won’t do it again as long as I am back training hard. Losing or winning there will always be someone better than you.”

ST: Being an athlete comes with a lot of pressure. How do you handle the pressure to perform well in front of a crowd?

DK: “Currently I still get the chills before I step onto the mat. Once I shake hands then 10 seconds go by, I get back into rhythm and treat it like a training session, except they’re there to take what’s mine.”

ST: Can you recall a moment in competition where you felt like giving up, but you were able to mentally push through it? Take me through this. What gave you the extra push?

DK: “A moment in competition I remember was when I was in the finals for wrestling States, the girl was tough and VERY strong. The first period I lost with no point. 2nd period she was getting me the first minute and then I caught up and caught her in a head lock to gain points. During this time, I was thinking to myself I am already losing and she pinned the last 4 girls easily. There’s no way catching up. 3rd period starts and I shot for a double and took her down, kept her down because I kept telling myself I was not leaving til I got my first place trophy, I drove 5 hours to compete (lol). There was 30 seconds left and I went for a headlock again and this time threw her and got the pin. It was a mentally tiring day but glad I got the win.”

The correct way to sweep your girl off her feet 😬😜 …. back at it next weekend @f2wpro in philly! 👀👊🏼 @available_jiujitsu @nogigrapplers @jiujitsu_style @jiujitsu_brasil @absolutabjj * * #habroksports #bjj #wrestling #jiujitsu #girlsbjj #philly #grappling #wmma #mma #ufc #sports #sambo

953 Likes, 42 Comments – Danielle Kelly (@daniellekellybjj) on Instagram: “The correct way to sweep your girl off her feet 😬😜 …. back at it next weekend @f2wpro in philly!…”

ST: Do you have any competitions coming up?
DK:
“I plan to compete for IBJJF Worlds in May and adcc trials.”