How did you get involved in MMA and how long have you been training?
-I was just looking for a different way to get a good workout in and I went in to Fusboxe Mixed Martial Arts to try it out. After a couple of weeks of trying it out, the competitive side of me came out. I had no intentions of fighting, but I entered my first tournament a month after starting and next thing you know. :) Now I've been at it for three years and loving every minute of it.
Where are you currently training, and what's a typical training week like for you?
-I'm currently training at Strictly Boxing in Brighton, CO. A typical training week for me consists of a lot of boxing and ground work. I've spent a ton of time cleaning up my wrestling and jiu-jitsu technique and now I'm focusing on my hands. I just want to be as well rounded as possible.
Tell us about your upcoming fight, who you're fighting and where?
-My next fight is against Mercedes Timmerman. I am honored to be fighting for Ring of Fire MMA on the Buckley MMA Fight Night card in Aurora, CO at the Buckley Air Force base. You can watch the fights live on Ustream via IPPV starting at 7:30 p.m. MTN this Saturday brought to you by Shameless MMA with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warriors Fund. It should be a fun fight and I hope everyone will tune in and watch me work.
What is your best experience as a fighter? What is your worst?
-My best experience was winning the title. It took a lot of bumps in the road to get there. The worst is having ten opponents pull out on me in a years’ time for various reasons. It really had me questioning if this is something I wanted to keep doing. Good things come to those who wait I guess.
What advice would you give to other women who are reading this interview and want to get started in MMA?
-My best advice would be to train hard and follow your dreams. It's going to be hard. You probably won't have a lot of women to train with so you'll be getting pushed around by the boys. Hang in there. It will all be worth it when you start seeing everything is paying off. Just don't give up. It's a beautiful sport.
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?
-The biggest hurdle I see right now is women not taking the sport serious enough and accepting fights they have no intention of fighting. How are we going to earn mainstream respect if women can't even give it to each other? If you take a fight, stick with it. Too many girls take fights and then don't follow through. Possibly due to fear, nerves, and sometimes injury which is understandable. The other two are unacceptable. WMMA is in its infancy and we're really trying hard to bring some legitimacy to it. Every time someone backs out of a fight without a good reason, it makes us all look bad. It happens on the men's side as well, but they have a much deeper pool to choose from that there's always someone who will step up. We don't have that luxury. Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin over at Invicta FC are working hard to give us a platform (AND I THANK YOU) and I think we need to do our best to take advantage of that, not sabotage it.
What or who are your inspirations in MMA and life?
-My inspirations in MMA are my coaches and all the female fighters who opened the doors for us. Ladies like Megumi Fuji, Erin Toughill, Debbie Purcell, and many others who were at this game even before Gina Carano became a household name. Now we have Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, and Jessica Penne doing amazing things. I thank you all.
Who are your favorite MMA fighters?
-My favorite fighter is Megumi Fuji. She is just an amazing fighter. It's too bad the main stream audience didn't get to see her in her prime.
How do you enjoy your free time when not training or fighting?
-Hahaha. I don't have any free time. I go to work at 4 AM and get home around 3. I nap for an hour or two and then I'm off to the gym. I get home around 9 then shower and bed and do it all over again the next day.
Of course we have a few questions for the male readership as well.
Are you single?
-No. Sorry guys :)
What do you look for in a guy?
-Someone who is respectful and considerate.
What are your turn-ons?
-A sense of humor.
What are your turnoffs?
What would you say is your best feature?
-I definitely get a ton of compliments on my eyes.
Any future plans or dreams?
-I just want to grow with the sport. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to make it to Invicta so I can show everyone what I'm all about.
Any shout outs you would like to make?
-Absolutely! Shout out to my coaches who work really hard to give me the best chance at success. Shout out to all my friends and training partners. I couldn't do this without you. MMA Meltdown who always looks out for me. Mike Laurita and Mass Destruction MMA/American Ground N Pound. The fans who have followed me and support me as I work my way up the ladder and most importantly, my family and bf. Thank you for everything! Oh, and thank you Babes of MMA for the support. People like you really help get our names out there and it means a lot. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!
Thank you for your time Shannon, good luck on fight night and looking forward to your pro debut! For the latest on rising fighter Shannon Culpepper stop by her Facebook and Twitter pages.