Full Nelson Promotions, Ground and Pound in Mahnomen, Minnesota at the Shooting Star Casino. We recently caught up with this real life surgeon prior to her big trip to the States 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?
-As a 3 year-old, I started doing karate. I did this for 10 years, followed by ninjitsu for 2 years. After school I took a break from contact sports and joined the army. I did kickboxing for about a year after that but didn't enjoy the restrictions much. Three years ago, I felt the need to do a contact sport again and started looking for an MMA gym. I joined Shido in February 2011 and immediately knew that I had found my new sport :)
Where are you currently training, and what's a typical training week like for you?
-I'm currently at Gorilla Warfare MMA in Johannesburg. My head coach is Marc Hebert. I live in Pretoria, so I have to drive 50 km to training. In the mornings, I leave Pretoria at 5:20am to be in Johannesburg by 6am. I train with Marc and our assistant coach Graham Edwards and do mostly ground work. At 4:30pm, after work I head over to do an hour's pad session with my Thai Boxing coach Roger Goncalves. After this, I go roll with the BJJ training group if I have any energy left! On weekends I generally rest or engage in active rest sessions like a slow long run.
Tell us about your upcoming fight, who you're fighting and where?
-I am fighting for Full Nelson Promotions in Mahnomen, Minnesota. On January 18th I'm facing Maddy "Madhatter" Simmons and we are set to be the main event.
What is your best experience as a fighter? What is your worst?
-When I joined Shido in 2011, they had a "fighter's test" that you had to pass before you could train with the more advanced guys. After 1.5 years, I managed to scrape together enough courage to attempt it. After a grueling 9 minutes of combat and 9 different opponents, all male and all much bigger and stronger than me, I had passed the test and only suffered a broken toe and a sprained elbow in the process. I will never forget the way I felt that day.
-My worst experience, I haven't had one! If you are seeing anything as a bad experience, learn from it and apply it positively in the future.
What advice would you give to other women who are reading this interview and want to get started in MMA?
-MMA is not a glamorous sport. If you are looking for fame and fortune, become a model. You must be willing to train very hard to reach your goals and stay focused. It is physically extremely demanding and injuries are a reality. If you have a family, they are affected by your lifestyle choice too, remember that! By far the most important thing is love and passion for the sport. If you have that, you will go a long way.
What or who are your inspirations in MMA and life?
-I was raised by my mother and grandmother; they are the epitome of female independence. They always believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. The friends I have made in my MMA journey stand by me without fail and motivate and inspire me daily.
Who are your favorite MMA fighters?
-My 3 biggest heroes are Anderson Silva, Bas Rutten and Lyoto Machida. All three of them are exceptionally well rounded fighters, and each of them is gifted in their own way.
How do you enjoy your free time when not training or fighting?
-Socializing is something I cannot do without. My friends are a very important part of my life. It is important to me to see all of them at least once every fortnight. We usually go out for dinners at different restaurants and rate the food! My couch and I also have a special relationship; I relax there with a book quite often.
For those who will inquire we have a couple questions for the male readership as well.
Are you single?
What do you look for in a guy?
-Honesty is without fail #1 on my list. Respect is another important feature, and just a general love for all living things. I find guys who are confident without being arrogant extremely sexy!
What are your turn-ons?
-Men who can actively listen and engage in intelligent conversation. Guys with a carefree attitude and a subdued ego are always winners in my book :)
What are your turnoffs?
-People, in general, who think they are too clever to learn anything new.
What would you say is your best feature?
-My ability to get along with almost anyone from any race, social background or economic position.
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?
-Currently, I am enrolled for my Master's degree in sports medicine. I would love to become a full-time sports physician and work with athletes on a daily basis. Other than that, I would like to travel and see more of the world!
Any shout outs you would like to make?
-My team has been amazing. Marc, Graham, Roger, Jessica and all my teammates, you have sacrificed just as much of your time as I have. I value all of you as mentors, coaches and friends! My mom and grandmother have supported me throughout all my training camps, thank you! And to all my friends: Carl, Gordon, Shawn, Petru, Sharne, Bernice and Magdie, much love.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck on fight night Santa-Marié! For more on Santa-Marié Venter check out this fight video and send your shout outs to her on Facebook and Twitter.