NAAFS Caged Vengeance 14 in Carrollton, Ohio at Veterans Hall. We recently caught up with Gina prior to her return to the cage this Saturday for the interview below to learn a little more about her.
How did you get involved in MMA and how long have you been training?
-In January of 2009 I began training in kickboxing for fitness and enrolled my son in the youth MMA program at the AFS Academy. After watching some of his classes, I decided to try grappling so that I would understand what he was doing. Initially I said I would never fight. But as I progressed competing in grappling tournaments and kickboxing, I eventually tried MMA. I’ve been at it ever since.
Where are you currently training, and what's a typical training week like for you?
-I still train at the AFS Academy in Richmond, KY. My son and I love to train and he is with me a majority of the time working hard as well while on summer break. I train most days at least twice a day in strength and conditioning, grappling, and striking. Friday is probably my favorite day for training because we do wrestling for MMA. It is my favorite class and grappling art. Thursday is my day off. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday we have open mat, team practice and I usually fit in some fight conditioning as well. I really like to mix up my cardio because running is just so boring. I usually swim, run, jump rope, and hit the row machines for variations in cardio.
Tell us about your upcoming fight, who you're fighting and where?
-I will fight for NAAFS on August 3rd in Carrollton, OH. I will face Katlyn Chookagian (2-1) from New Jersey. I don’t like to dwell on my opponents so all I really know about her is the record she comes with, the state she is from and that she trains at a Renzo Gracie affiliate school but visits the actual school for belt testing and stuff.
What is your best experience as a fighter? What is your worst?
-My best experience as a fighter was when I traveled to Denver, Colorado to fight for RFA. The promotion was fantastic, the crowd was great. Overall it was just an amazing fight, opponent, people and experience.
-My worst experience was when I fought in northern Kentucky against Vanessa Demopoulos. She was a great opponent and we had a fantastic fight but the promotion made everything leading up to and after just feel… unpleasant. It was very hard for me to take anything positive from the experience for a very long time.
What advice would you give to other women who are reading this interview and want to get started in MMA?
-Look at who you find successful and emulate their actions to hopefully produce similar results. Find a coach that doesn’t hold you to a lower expectation than your male counterparts. Understanding your gender and what you can tolerate is much different than the attitude of what is good for a girl. Surround yourself with good people. And, focus on yourself and your training at your gym.
What or who are your inspirations in MMA and life?
-I think my coach Scott Elliott has been one of my biggest inspirations in MMA and life. Since joining the AFS Academy, I have had a complete transformation as a person and am so happy with the new avenues that life has taken me and my son. I never thought I would be remotely interested in fighting, media, or writing. When in doubt I would ask for advice from my coach Scott Elliott and Jess Duke. They always gave me great words of encouragement. My son and I have had more opportunities to travel, compete, meet great people and have amazing experiences than I would have ever imagined.
Who are your favorite MMA fighters?
-I am a huge fan of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. I love her ferocity. I of course love Ronda Rousey and all she has done for women in the sport. For males I am a huge fan of Anderson Silva despite the recent KO. I love GSP and almost anyone that has vicious work ethic and tenacity.
In addition to fighting you also host Pro WMMA Now. How did that get started and could this be a future career as a live radio or television MMA analyst?
-I hope I have a future career in media, I love it! I initially started with WV Fight Sports Radio but only to help a girl that was supposed to cover WMMA news on a segment for them. She eventually flaked out and after my 3 months was up; I had really got into it. I became a co-host of the show until eventually Pro MMA Now offered me an opportunity to host my own show focusing on the professional female MMA athletes. I asked Emily Bartee, a training partner of mine to help co-host. She is very intelligent so if she doesn’t know something she will work to find out what she needs to know. She is extremely reliable and responsible so I never have to worry that she will no show or quit without notice. So far we are doing great and can’t wait to see what’s next.
How do you enjoy your free time when not training or fighting? Any hobbies?
-I spend a majority of my time training and my hobbies include looking for new methods to improve my performance. My son and I both love the water so in the summer we love to hit the pool. I’m always training but when I’m not fighting, my indulgence would probably be beer, food, and comedy. I love to hit comedy clubs. I like to cook and try new foods as well as indulge in craft beers and sweets! My fat week includes a trip to Thai Smile for Chicken Panang Curry, Logan’s for steak and their rolls with cinnamon butter, and a couple of burgers. I’ll be sure to have Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Dogfish Head Midas Touch in the fridge for some good wind down beers. My sweet treats are typically chocolate cupcakes, cheesecake, and chocolate! I’ll be honest. I’m a social media junkie. If I can stay up late, I enjoy scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. If I have nothing to do, I like to watch The Bad Girls Club and simultaneously play Candy Crush, while cruising Facebook, surrounded by sweet treats, a beer, and Mexen chips. That would be me completely vegged out!
For those who will inquire we have a few questions for the male readership as well.
Are you single?
-I am a single lady and very happy about that. It doesn’t feel like it due to my training schedule and free time spent with my 9 year old son. So, yes but very busy!
What do you look for in a guy?
-I’m currently not looking for a guy so that makes the question very hard. I know what I don’t like though. Musclely, hairless, self-absorbed, pretty boys are a definite no way. I’ve never dated a fighter. I’ve been single for a long time. I can’t say that I’ve ever been pursued by anyone in MMA as well, so I’m not really sure about what I’d look for as MMA is a huge part of my lifestyle. I’m sure it would have to be someone involved in the sport so they could understand my lifestyle.
What are your turn-ons?
-I appreciate confidence and willingness to adapt, learn, and self-motivate.
What are your turnoffs?
-Low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, codependence and laziness are qualities I do not like in people in general.
What would you say is your best feature?
-I don’t know what I would consider my best feature. I am very comfortable with who I am and how I look. Maybe that’s my best feature although it is not a physical one. Just very aware of who I am, comfortable and confident with myself as a whole.
Lastly before we let you go we would love to hear about your future plans and let you send some shout outs.
Any future plans or dreams?
-I am eager to be successful in the sport of MMA. I plan to have a very successful MMA career followed by a successful MMA media career. In about 10 years you should look for my son Christopher Begley in the UFC!
Any shout outs you would like to make?
-Big thank you to my coach Scott Elliott and my teammates at the AFS Academy: Jessamyn Duke, Adam Fritz, Brandon Campbell, and Emily Bartee. Thank you to my Bluegrass MMA teammates Gary Thomas and Juan Valle. To my sponsors F3 Nutrition, Defense Fight Soap, Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink, Thanks! Shout out to 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and the Thai Boxing Association of the USA. Thanks to Jason Adams of Promoting Women in Fitness Blog for being so supportive. Thank you to BangTown Fightwear and The Mile High Grizzlies for supporting Pro WMMA Now!
Thank you very much for your time Gina and good luck on fight night! Send your shout outs to Gina “Jellybean” Begley on Facebook, Facebook fan page and Twitter, check out her radio show Pro WMMA Now on the Pro MMA Now Network and her articles at BluegrassMMA.com.