How did you get involved in MMA and how long have you been training?
-I got involved with MMA because one of my guy friends had been training for awhile and I'd always thought it would be cool to try a combat sport (then I was mainly interested in a good workout) so he took me to the gym. Within a week I was hooked and knew I wanted to fight. My family was not okay with that at the time and I moved out not long after I turned eighteen because I was determined to follow my dream. I've been training for two years now and I'm 4-0. My family is so much more comfortable with it now and is very supportive.
Where are you currently training, and what's a typical training week like for you?
-I train at Central Illinois Combat Club in Canton IL under Bob Long at Kuk Sool Won in Galesburg with Ashley Sanchez, and at GYAC Boxing in Galesburg with Carlos Duncan. I typically train boxing two days a week, kickboxing and BJJ two days a week, MMA once a week, along with additional cardio and lifting workouts about four days a week.
Tell us about your upcoming fight, who you're fighting and where?
-My fight will be at East Peoria Throwdown at the East Peoria Event Center (IL). I will be fighting Brittany O'Day at 145 pounds. My focus is on my game plan and not hers; I plan to be the aggressor and will use any of my many skills to beat her.
What is your best experience as a fighter? What is your worst?
-My best experience as a fighter if I had to pick just one, it would be after my second fight. I won by TKO and won fight of the night; an adorable little girl came up to me and wanted her picture taken with me. She thought I was so cool! It made me feel really good to have that little girl look up to me for being strong.
-My worst experience would have to be cutting weight for my last fight, it was my first time dropping to 125 and it was supposed to be a title fight and for various reasons I didn't quite make it. I cut weight all day in the sauna and the gym, busted my ass and had to be carried out to weigh-ins. I was criticized for that and I didn't get that belt. I still won and I learned something from it, so really it was worth it in the end but it sucked.
What advice would you give to other women who are reading this interview and want to get started in MMA?
-Do it! Find a good, trustworthy coach and start training. Start small if you have to. Be kind to your body, don't try to crash diet or starve yourself as it will backfire in the end. I believe MMA can do so much for a woman's mind, body, and spirit. It really helps build confidence along with improved health and fitness. I also really believe every woman whether they want to fight or not should be able to defend themselves.
What are some of the hurdles that you think Women in MMA need to overcome before Women's MMA will be considered a top level sport like Men's MMA is today?
-For one, volume. Although women's MMA is growing, there are still way fewer women than men in the sport. We need to encourage other women that they can be strong too! Also, women's MMA just needs to be promoted more. I think things such as the new promotion Invicta Fighting Championships could really do great things for the sport. We ladies need to get our names out there and show everyone what we're made of.
When do you think we will see women divisions in the UFC?
-It's hard to say. With all the Tate-Rousey hype, progress was made. Dana White was quoted as saying if there were more females out there like Tate and Rousey there was a chance. That's a start at least. I guess the women of MMA just need to show Dana White that we can create fireworks and draw a huge crowd, and I think he would be likely to give in.
What or who are your inspirations in MMA and life?
-My teammate and trainer Ashley Sanchez is a big inspiration to me. She's tough but always positive, always working towards a goal, and she loves helping people. She's a great teacher and fighter, and she's raising two beautiful girls at the same time! Amazing!
Who are your favorite MMA fighters?
-Picking favorites is so hard. Miesha Tate, Felice Herrig, Ronda Rousey, Vitor Belfort, Urijah Faber...the list is endless. I look up to all of them and try to learn from them because that's where I want to be someday.
How do you enjoy your free time when not training or fighting?
-Eating! Haha, just kidding (sorta). I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, occasionally I like to get crafty and sew or make something. I love to bake but I find it hard not to eat everything I make so I try to save that for special occasions.
Of course we have a few questions for the male readership as well.
Are you single?
-Nope, and my man is a fighter too so don't bother challenging him for me ;)
What do you look for in a guy?
-Someone who is caring, affectionate, and not afraid to be goofy, also someone who's not afraid of commitment.
What would you say is your best feature?
-My eyes and my booty.
Any future plans or dreams?
-My dream is to fight professionally. Everyone says you should have a job you love, and I love MMA. I can't think of anything better than getting paid to train and fight. I'll work for that every day until I achieve it.
Any shout outs you would like to make?
-First I want everyone to know that I'm dedicating this fight to my uncle Norm, who recently lost his fight with cancer. I'll be fighting for him in there.
-Also I'd like to thank my sponsors, they've waited patiently for this next fight and I am so grateful for everything they've done for me: Ultimate Takedown, www.gymbooty.com, Grit Mouthguards, Phoenix Tattoo Studio, AJH Photography, Diffusion Hair Studio, Fight Chix, and CatFight Gear.
-My family, friends and my boyfriend Joseph also deserve a shout out because they deal with me daily, help me whenever I need it, and are completely understanding of the sacrifices I make to reach my goals.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck on fight night Jenna! For more on Jenna check out her Facebook and Twitter pages.