NEF 38, Taylor Thompson

At NEF 38, Taylor Thompson is putting cancer scare behind her and is ready to win another gold belt

Before accepting her upcoming fight against Andrea “Renegade” Howland for the inaugural NEF women’s amateur bantamweight title, which take place at NEF 38 on April 27, Taylor “T-Storm” Thompson and her coach Julio Colon went on a trip to Ecuador to hike and climb mountains and glaciers. They were looking to train to climb Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, which is the closest place to space on earth. They went on several training expeditions including climbing Iliniza Norte and they were treacherous enough that the Chimborazo climb was postponed.

“At least one of them was pretty treacherous. Where we were scrambling around on some pretty slick rock, and it was snowing and there was like a lightning storm at one point, Julio was suffering from some pretty severe altitude sickness so he was sort of wobbly, his balance was compromised and he wasn’t able to think very clearly. But we decided to push through it and keep going to the top anyway.”

“We didn’t attempt Chimborazo but we are hoping to go back next year and give it another whirl.”

Obstacles may have postponed Thompson’s goal of climbing Chimborazo but it hasn’t dampened her will or desire to succeed in doing so, much like in her MMA career. In what was supposed to be her third bout, Thompson broke her foot the week of the fight. But after rehabbing it, she signed on the dotted line to fight Catie Denning, little did she know that how her foot felt would be the least of her health concerns heading into the fight.

“I was diagnosed with the possibility of it being cancer in the middle of my camp and they wanted to have at least an exploratory surgery almost more or less immediately and I told them no, it had to wait until after the camp. My physicians weren’t exactly pleased with the decision. But it ended up not being cancer after all, so no big deal. I’m all healed up from that and ready to go and not worried about having some murderous tumor growing in my stomach.”

As most would assume, Thompson felt the unknown possibility of cancer weighed on her throughout her fight camp.

“But just the thought it could be, it could be, in the back of your mind, it really wears on you and I think it definitely affected my ability to train and my ability to fight.”

But fight she did and she put on a fight of the night candidate at NEF 36 where she defeated Denning by unanimous decision.

Now she will face her toughest challenge yet in Howland who is coming in from Michigan to try and determine who is arguably the best female amateur mixed martial artist in the country. The fight came together in an interesting way. Both fighters were nominated for a amateur of the year by Queen MMA Media and since then through respect and the desire of fans to see the fight, it came to fruition.

“Tommy Vickers from Queen MMA Media nominated us both along with several other very talented women fighters for amateur fighter of the year and Andrea and I both ended up being finalists for it. I don’t want to speak for Andrea’s experience, but as I was looking at the other candidates and everything I was like “oh she’s in my weight class, that’s kinda cool” and as everything kinda came about, I was like, that could be a good fight for the two of us. And several people who were voting for the award and what not were like “that could be a cool fight”. That planted the seed in my mind at least. When I was talking with Matt Peterson from NEF, we were trying to find someone who was local but we weren’t able to get anyone available at the right time, it was a bit of a curfuffle trying to find me an opponent so I asked him if he’d reach out to Andrea to see if she was interested. Then there was a little bit of back and forth, I think she said she had a family issue going on and didn’t want to commit to the fight immediately. Then I spoke to Tommy Vickers from Queen MMA again and he reached out to her and I guess her family issue had resolved itself. Tommy was able to help put this fight together, which was kinda nice because he was the one who more or less introduced each other through the award nomination.”

Thompson is not only thankful for the matchup, but how respectful Howland has been towards her. In the comments of one of Howland’s initial Facebook posts to promote the fight, a few of her followers were disrespectful towards Thompson, calling her a man and making fun of her looks. Howland came to Thompson’s defense and ensured that that kind of trash talk came to an end. Thompson, is grateful for that.

“I think it shows great strength of character on her part to tell her followers and fans that their behavior is inappropriate. There are so many layers with what was wrong with what they were saying. There’s gender policing involved, there’s a lot of terminology for it. Basically what it boils down to is that her fans didn’t think I appear how a women fighter should appear and I don’t think that it’s necessary for fans to make that decision. I think that people should be able to present themselves as they choose. I thought it was a great testament to Andrea’s character to be wiling to stand up against her own fans and say I know smack talk is part of the game but talk about people’s skills as a fighter as opposed to attacking how they present themselves. I thought that was a very kind thing for her to do and I certainly appreciate it.”

As far as the fight is concerned, Thompson hopes it’s the challenge she believes it seems to be.

“I think it’s going to be a good matchup, but like I said I’m always looking for challenges. I hope she shows up at her best and I show up as my best and we see how it goes.”

In a separate interview with Howland, she said that she believes the fight will be action packed and we will see fireworks early on. Thompson, agrees with that assessment.

“Based on my pattern from my past three fights she’s probably right. With it being an intense start with a lot of striking.”

As far as a prediction, Thompson doesn’t like to give them but she does see her self getting a finish especially if the fight ends up on the ground.

“I see a finish, I think if it goes to the ground I think I may have the advantage jiu jitsu wise. I’m fairly confident in my ability to grab submissions. I would very cautiously say, if it goes to the ground, I suspect I may have an upper hand there and I would catch a submission. If it stays standing it might be a bit more even but I hope to put my aggression to the test and see what happens.”