Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekend WMMA Wrap-Up

Road FC: 37 XX and ONE: Warrior Kingdom

There were a lot of female fights in Asia this weekend, thanks to Road FC, ONE, and Pancrase. 

If you live outside of Korea, Road FC streamed the entire event live on Youtube. The event took place on Saturday morning in the U.S. and it served as a nice showcase for the promotion. Road FC has accomplished what ONE has also accomplished. Both promotions have searched for and discovered young fighters with potential. Jung Eun Park, Ye Ji Lee, and Yuri Shim all picked up wins and looked impressive in the process. Both Park and Lee look to be developing and evolving despite rocky starts to their careers, which might have been cases of too much too soon. Park looked impressive but it was Lee who stood out. At just 17 years of age she avenged her loss to Satoko Shinashi. She used her size and tenacity to keep Satoko on the defensive for most of the fight but in the last round she seemed to tire. Even though she was tired she survived several submission attempts and could be a star for Road in the future. Road FC has also brought in some veterans. Emi Fujino picked up another win and looks to be enjoying her time with the promotion. In other news, it appears that Ham Seo Hee will be fighting for a championship later this year.

Ye-Ji Lee
- Raiko Emiko def. Jin Hee Kang (UD)
- Ye-Ji Lee def. Satoko Shinashi (UD)
- Jung Eun Park def. Na Young Park (TKO)
- So Hee Lim def. Hana Date (UD)
- Yuri Shim def. Shiho Harada (UD)
- Xiangje Wang def. Yoon Ha Hong

Angela Lee successfully defended her title for the first time in Thailand. Angela won the championship last year in one of the best fights of the year and looks to be one of ONE's top stars. Angela finished the previously undefeated Jenny Huang in the third round when Jenny verbally submitted after eating a stream of hard shots on the ground. If you didn't see the fight think of Khabib and Michael Johnson. I have been critical of the new system that ONE has utilized for deciding their weight divisions. When they restructured their weight divisions they essentially erases the actual 105 division, of which they had a number of fighters. This has forced a number of natural 105ers into their new Atomweight division where one can weigh in at 115. The size difference has been noticable. Angela towered over Jenny and Mei, both of whom are natural 105ers. Angela has looked very impressive up to this point in her career, so I would like to see ONE either create a new division for the old 105ers or bring in more natural 115ers as they develop the division. Outside of that, Angela is a star and seems to always have exciting fights.

Angela Lee
- Angela Lee def. Jenny Huang (Submission to strikes, 3R)
- Rika Ishige def. Audreylaura Boniface (TKO, 1R)

Ayaka Miura picked up a UD win in her Pancrase debut, but it was an unimpressive performance. Her coach, Ryo Chonan also seemed critical of her performance. The match consisted of Ayaka repeatedly throwing and landing head-and-arm throws. Once she landed the throw, she would spend the remainder of the round in the scarf hold position hammer fisting her opponents face. It wasn't until the third that she attempted an arm-triangle choke and also an arm-lock but it was too little to late and the match probably didn't have the affect that she was hoping for. It seems that she has been brought into Pancrase as a potential opponent for Syuri Kondo, to fight for a 115 title, but if she continues to underwhelm, Pancrase might find someone else.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Angela Lee Interview

ONE Champ Angela Lee
Courtesy of mmamania

Angela Lee will be defending her ONE Atomweight championship this weekend against the undefeated Jenny Huang. Angela burst onto the scene in 2015, is undefeated, and has finished 5 of her 6 opponents. At just 20 years of age, a star has emerged in ONE's atomweight division. Angela won the first women's championship for the organization, was the first woman to headline an event for them, and will be headlining again this weekend. I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela and you can read our interview below. Be sure to watch her fight Jenny Huang this Saturday on the ONE website for $9.99


CJ: Can you start by talking about your last fight? Having had time to watch it what stands out to you? How badly did the punch effect you in the opening of the third?
AL: My last fight was with Mei Yamaguchi on May 6th of this year and it was for the inaugural One Women's Atomweight title. We both fought very hard and it was a very technical and entertaining fight for fans around the world. I came into the third round flat on my feet and she came in with that punch right off of the bell. It definitely caught me off guard, but I was able to stay calm, defend myself, and then attack with numerous submissions.

Angela Lee
Courtesy of MMAfighting
CJ: You train at two locations. I read that for your last camp you spent 5 weeks at Evolve and 3 weeks at United. Can you talk about your training and what each gym offers you? Will you stick to this formula for future fights?
AL: I have been training all my life with United MMA. United MMA is my family's gym and we're based out of Oahu, Hawaii. My Dad is my Head Coach and has decades of coaching knowledge and experience, that he is constantly tweaking and improving. At United MMA, I can focus primarily on MMA. From the vast arsenal of striking and clinching, to wrestling and judo, to submission grappling and ground & pound, we feel that the seamless transitions from one range to the other is what makes all the difference in MMA.
AL: My brother and I recently joined the Evolve Fight Team last September. Evolve MMA is based out of Singapore and is known for their world class instructors who are all experts in their craft. The team consists of numerous world champions in different disciplines from Muay Thai, to Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu, to Wrestling. At Evolve MMA, I am able to train with the best fighters in the world and solely focus on improving these individual arts. I am extremely happy and grateful to be apart of these two teams. For future fight camps, I will most likely spend an equal amount of time at each gym (4 weeks at United MMA and 4 weeks at Evolve MMA).

CJ: In 2015, you really burst out of the gates, fighting 4 times and as of now, 2 times in the first half of 2016. Can you talk about your quick turn arounds? What is the benefit to fighting so often? Any negatives?
AL: Last year, I fought 4 times in less than 7 months and the reason my Coach allowed me to fight so often was because I took little to no damage and the fights all ended in less than 2 rounds. For me, it's simple: I love to fight. Fighting back to back meant that I would get to do what I love more often and so I was very grateful for the opportunity! I loved that I was always in fight camp because it enabled me to stay close to my fight weight and most importantly, keep that fighting mindset. Of course, that isn't for everyone and there are some fighters who prefer a long rest period after each fight. I think it all comes down to circumstances, personal preference, and how you look at it.

CJ: You've had all your professional fights for One. What has that been like? How did you get your first fight with them lined up?
AL: ONE Championship is an awesome organization. They treat their fighters very well and I'm very happy to be in ONE. My relationship with ONE started when my Dad/ Coach reached out to the VP and Matchmaker, Matt Hume. My Dad had trained with Matt 20 years ago in Seattle, so when we heard of ONE Championship and did some research, that is when we made the connection.

CJ: You and your brother both have dynamic submission games, including twisters and neck ties, can you talk about the evolution of your grappling game?
AL: Our submission game definitely stands out amongst others in the organization but I feel that's because our entire game as a whole is very dynamic. I feel that our MMA game is on another level and that's all thanks to years of brilliant coaching from our Dad. He taught us how to fight for MMA and self defense purposes, not just to score points.

Angela Lee with a Twister
CJ:You're already the One champ and quickly becoming one of One's biggest stars. Can you talk about this? What are your goals moving forward?
AL: I am so stoked to be living my dream! I wake up everyday with gratitude because I am so thankful for all of the many blessings in my life. I'm very happy in ONE Championship and I hope to help expand the Women's divisions as well as bring in new talent into the organization. I have a feeling that Women's MMA is about to take off in Asia and I plan on leading the way for more up and coming aspiring female fighters to pursue their passion.

CJ: Looking at the numbers, One is putting on more and more women's fights.  Can you talk about this from your perspective?
AJ: From last year to now, that there has definitely been a big jump in the number of female fighters being signed as well as WMMA fights being held in ONE Championship. I am thrilled about this and very excited about all of the progress that has been made so far.
When I fought Mei Yamaguchi at ONE's 42nd event, we made history in being the first ever female fight to headline a card. By winning that fight, I became the inaugural Atomweight Champion and simultaneously had the honor of becoming ONE Championship's first female champion. This is only the beginning for a new era of WMMA in ONE Championship and Asia.

CJ: One recently implemented a new weight class classification system and a new weigh in procedure, which you've gone through now. Can you talk about the changes? How have you adjusted?
AJ: ONE Championship has taken the lead in implementing a much more healthier and safer weigh in procedure. Athletes now fight at their walking weight instead of cutting the weight of 1 full weight division the night before. Instead of changing all of the weight classes, ONE changed each weight class limit to the maximum of the previous weight class above it. For example, I fight at Atomweight which is normally 105lbs in other organizations. In ONE Championship however, the Atomweight limit is now from 105lbs-115lbs. I previously fought at Strawweight (115lbs) and would usually cut about 4-5 pounds in the sauna. For my title fight in May, I had to modify my training regime and keep to a very strict diet to get my walking weight down to 115lbs, but it was definitely worth it. I like the new system because it's very beneficial for fighters in the long run and will definitely prolong their "fight life" (years in the sport).

CJ: What do you do when you aren't training? Do you have any hobbies?
AL: I love to spend time with my family, watching movies, trying new places to eat, and going to the beach with my American Bulldog puppy, Rocky.

CJ: Evolve hosts a number of great fighters. Have you had the opportunity to train with Dos Anjos, Aoki, Askren or any of the Muay Thai champions there? If so what was it like?
AL: At Evolve MMA I train with numerous world champions daily. Everyone there, including Rafael, Shinya, and Ben are amazing people and I feel very lucky to be able to train, share knowledge, and learn from some of the best in the world.

CJ: Are there any fighters that you look up to or enjoy watching?
AL: My Brother, Christian Lee. That boy is an absolute beast! He tears through the competition with his skill and tenacity. It's always such a treat being in his corner and watching him fight. Christian is an unstoppable force that's taking the Featherweight division by storm. He will be the champion in the very near future... Mark my words!

CJ: Thank you for your time, is there anything you would like to say?  Anyone you'd like to thank?
AL: Yes, I'd like to thank my family, my gyms: United MMA & Evolve MMA, ONE Championship, my friends and fans all over the world! Thank you for your continuous support! You guys are the best!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Road FC 3/11

In 2010, Road FC held their first event. In 2013, Celine Haga fought Masako Yoshida in Road FC's first female fight. In 2014, Ham Seo Hee returned to Korea to fight for Road FC. This Saturday, Road FC will hold their first all-female fight card. Road FC has been developing their female divisions over the past 4 years, with women taking part in more fights each year. In 2016, 8% of Road FC's professional fights were fought by women and if this weekend's event is any indication, Road FC is going to go past that number this year as well.

One of the exciting thing about Road FC is that they have signed a bunch of young fighters who are still developing. For those who are unfamiliar, the fighters that I would keep an eye out for are Jeong-Eun Park,Ye-Ji Lee, Emi Fujino and Satoko Shinashi. Park and Lee are young up and comers and Fujino and Shinashi are established veterans. Lee will actually be fighting Shinashi in a rematch. Lee had a rough start to her career as she lost to Shinashi and Hisae Watanabe but she has since picked up two wins and looks to avenge her loss.

The card will be going down this Saturday and will definitely be worth a watch.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A conversation with Saya

Saya Ito, Picture Courtesy of Lady Go!

As some of you may know, Saya Ito is a Japanese senior in high school, who also happens to be one of the best 100lb fighters on the planet. Earlier this year, she became the WPMF Champion by defeating fellow Japanese fighter Little Tiger. There was some interesting lead up to the fight because it seemed to many that Little Tiger was avoiding Saya, which led to Saya going to a press conference and calling Little Tiger out. Saya proceeded to beat Little Tiger that night and later again, but injured her foot and has been noticeably absent from action. In addition, she relinquished her title. Some people, myself included, were curious to hear more about what happened to Saya. That curiosity led to the following conversation:

CJ: So, when did you injure your leg, was it in the first Little Tiger fight?
Saya: It was injured for a long time before the fight with Little Tiger. However, since I started taking more fights with a shorter turn-around, it got even worse.

CJ: Where exactly did it get injured?
Saya: At first it was the top of my right foot, the instep. It broke in the Little Tiger fight.

CJ: Do you remember when in the fight?
Saya: No, I don't remember.

CJ: Do you remember when it started giving you trouble?
Saya: No, I don't remember when it started hurting, I just remember that it had been hurting for a long time.

CJ: Can you talk about your second fight with Little Tiger?
Saya: My foot felt perfect during the fight. However, after the fight the same spot started to hurt again.

CJ: You tried really hard to get the first fight with Little Tiger. What was it like beating her twice?
Saya: I was happy about it, I didn't think that she could beat me.

CJ: Why were you so confident that you could beat her?
Saya: Because it was a Muay Thai fight.

CJ: You're saying you'd beat her because it wasn't a kickboxing fight?
Saya: That's right.

CJ: Do you think you want to fight her again next year? (She is the current WPMF Champion)
Saya: I don't think that I want to fight her.

CJ: Do you think you will fight next year?
Saya: I think so. I graduate from high school in March, so I am thinking about it.
CJ: I see.

Courtesy of LadyGo!
CJ: Is it ok if I ask you some questions about your WPMF title?
Saya: That's fine.

CJ: Why are you no longer the champion?
Saya: I couldn't defend the title, so I gave it up.

CJ: Was that your idea?
Saya: I couldn't fight, so I voluntarily gave it up.  In reality, I wouldn't have been able to defend the title in at least six months.
CJ: I see.

CJ: Some people thought that the WPMF might have stripped the title from you.
Saya: The head of Weerasakreck wanted me to have another rematch with Little Tiger. But I thought that fighting her three times in a row didn't really make sense, so I didn't do it and my coach and I returned the belt.

CJ: Is her coach an important figure with WPMF?
Saya: I don't understand the question.
CJ: I ask because it seems like Little Tiger is always able to get shots at the WPMF title. (laughter)
Saya: That's right (laughter)

CJ: Do you still want to train and fight in Thailaind?
Saya: I think so.

CJ: Back to the title, so did you give up the title because you didn't want to have a rematch with Little Tiger or because of your injury?
Saya: For both reasons. To start with, my foot was no good, then I told them there wouldn't be a third fight with Little Tiger, I told them I didn't understand what the meaning or purpose of fighting her again was so I refused to do it.

Saya Ito vs Little Tiger
Courtesy of LadyGo!
CJ: Is it ok if we move onto some questions people asked?
Saya: That's fine!

Q: Was it difficult training while going to high school, Japanese high school can be pretty difficult.
Saya: It wasn't that it was difficult, I was just very busy.

Q: What do your friends think of you being a fighter?
Saya: They support me.
CJ: Do they come to your fights?
Saya: There are times when they come.

Q: Is there any manga or anime that you like?
Saya: I like Drangonball Z! (laughter)
CJ: Which character do you like?
Saya: Goku!

Q: Since you've been injured, have you still been training?
Saya: Not really, I have been concentrating on studying for school.
CJ: That's right, are you thinking of taking the entrance exams?
Saya: I'm still thinking about it.

Q: Can you talk about what is unique about Thai fighters, what makes them different from Japanese fighters?
Saya: When I first trained in Thailand, the first thing that came to my mind was the difference in the amount of training.
CJ: Did you notice anything different about their style?
Saya: Do you mean their fight style?
CJ: Yes.
Saya: Since Japan has a lot of kickboxers, I think Japanese fighters tend to come forward more aggressively.

Q: Do you still want to fight around the world?
Saya: I think so.

CJ: If you go to college, do you think you'll take a break from Muay Thai?
Saya: It will depend on the circumstances at that time.

Q: What is the difference between Japanese and Thai judges?
Saya: In Japan, there are not a lot of points given in the clinch. In Japan, they also give more points for punching.
CJ: Yes, I've heard that in Thailand they do not give a lot of points for punches.
Saya: Yes, that's right, I don't think they give a lot of points for punches in Thailand.
CJ: I've also heard that the first round isn't that important in Thailand, what is it like in Japan?
Saya: In Japan, there are Japanese judges so the first round is also important.

CJ: Before you talked about how busy you were with school, your job, and training, what was your schedule like?
Saya: From Monday to Friday, I went to school then trained. On Saturday and Sunday, I worked at my part-time job. On days that I didn't have work, I met up with my friends or went to watch fights.

CJ: Thanks for answering all these questions. Is there anything you would like to say?
Saya: It's not a problem. When I return, I would like you all to continue to support me!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kunlun Female MMA Stats

Kunlun Fight, a Chinese promotion, has been developing female talent within China. This is an atypical case because Kunlun is not a MMA promotion, it is a Kickboxing promotion. However, Kunlun does have a variety of fights under other rules, including MMA fights. Kunlun has only been putting on MMA fights for roughly three years and has not been on a lot of people's radar. However, the promotion has put on 30 female mma fights and has helped develop a couple solid fighters, most notably Maryna Moroz, who fought for the promotion twice and is now in the UFC.

When I look at the data, it seems that Kunlun wants to create a couple of Chinese stars. In order to accomplish this goal, they are willing to fly in women to fight these women. There are three women that stick out, Jin Tang, Jingnan Xiong and Weili Zhang. They combine for roughly half of the fights in the promotion. Outside of them, women are usually brought into the promotion for one fight, most frequently from the Ukraine. This is not a strange practice. Numerous promotions in the area do this, the idea being that you fly in a foreigner to fight the local fighter to get the crowd behind the local fighter and to develop a fan base.

Kunlun recently took their show on the road and had an event in Japan, where Weili Zhang defeated Emi Fujino by TKO (Cut). Prior to the cut, it was an exciting fight and with what I have seen in other promotions, it seems clear that more and more contenders are going to begin emerging from China, with Weili Zhang potentially leading the way. The charts below illustrate that while Kunlun is putting on more and more fights, they are maintaing a nice percentage of female fights with 25% of their MMA fights in 2014, 15% of their fights in 2015 and 24% of their fights in 2016 so far involving women. While Kunlun is doing a good job of developing certain fighters, it would be nice to see them expand what I will call their "permanent roster".

2016 is not over
2016 is not over

List of women who have fought for Kunlun:

Munkhgerel Bayarmaa 1
Karla Benitez 1
Mara Romero Borella 1
Julia Borisova 1
Daria Chibisova 1
Emi Fujino 1
Viktoria Godomchuk 1
Svetlana Gotsyk 1
Feier Huang 3
Inna Hutsal 1
Samantha Jean-Francois 1
Yoo Jin Jung 1
Eugenia Kostina 1
Rochelle Lestino 1
Marina Lvova 1
Yana Lyashko 1
Liliya Kazak 3
Maira Mazar 1
Maryna Moroz 2
Anastasiya Rybalochko 1
Aya Saied Saber 2
Natalya Safronova 1
Colleen Schneider 1
Jin Tang 13
Ekaterina Tarnavskaja 1
Liubov Tiupina 1
Fabrina Vanessa 1
Jingnan Xiong 9
Malihe Younes 1
Weili Zhang 5

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

One Female Fight Stats

One of the top promotions in the world, One Championship, a Singapore based promotion, has been putting on an increasing amount of fights in Asia. Starting with 10 fights in 2011, One has increased the number of fights each year to a total of 106 so far in 2016. One has also been developing female talent in the region. When one thinks of One, fighters such as Angela Lee and Ann Osman come to mind and have been heavily promoted by the Organization. What is interesting and important about One, is that they are developing female fighters in areas that we do not traditionally see a lot of fighters emerging from. For example, One has signed the first Taiwanese female mixed martial artist, Malaysian, Cambodian, and Indian female mixed martial artists. Another piece of information that sticks out, is that One tends to bring female fighters back. Other promotions can have the tendency to bring in fighters to fight a promotional fighter and then not bring them back, but more than 50% of the women who fought for One fought for them at least twice.

2016 is not over
While a majority of the women signed by One are not making their mixed martial arts debut, One is giving a lot of women the opportunity to fight on a big stage and to gain valuable experience. One of the most memorable fights in One's history is the title fight between Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi. In addition to the fight, Angela Lee is arguably One's most visible star and most popular fighter. This year One signed Angela Lee to a large contract, showing their intent to keep her as one of the faces of the growing promotion. In my opinion, One was actively looking for a female star to promote. One originally threw their weight behind Ann Osman, who has fought for the promotion 7 times, but when Angela Lee burst onto the scene with her exciting submissions, they quickly threw their weight behind her, who has fought for the promotion 6 times, and led to them crowning their first female champion.

Total Fights and Female Fights
At a recent Asian MMA Summit, both Angela Lee and Ann Osman spoke about women in MMA, showing at least an intent by One to continue to expand and develop female fighters within their promotion and the region. Having interviewed several of their fighters, I got the sense that these women's success in One has led to more women coming to their gyms and training, which will most likely lead to more female fighters in the future. If this is true, One's investment in these women seems to be paying off. Hopefully, as more female fighters become available in the area, a greater percentage of One's fights will include women. My only issue is that with One's new weight procedures and classifications, I wonder what is going to happen to their 105ers.

Women who have fought for One:

Walaa Abas (2) 
Amira Badr (1) 
Vy Srey Chai (2) 
Nicole Chua (1) 
Kirstie Gannaway (2)
Renecca Heintzman 1
Natalie Hills (2)
Jenny Huang (3)
Ana Julaton (4)
Angela Lee (6)
Sherilyn Lim (1)
Irina Mazepa (2)
Jujeath Nagaowa (2)
Istela Nunes (1)
Adek Omar (1)
April Osenio (3)
Ann Osman (7)
Elena Pashnina (1)
Ehpriyanut Phouthong (1)
Desi Rahayu (1)
Aya Saied Saber (3)
Tharoth Sam (3)
Mona Samir (1)
Ella Tang (1)
Lena Tkhorevska (1)
Jeet Toshi (4)
Mei Yamaguchi (2)
Haiat Farag Youssef (1)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Yan Xiaonan Interview

Name: Yan "Fury" Xiaonan
Age: 27
Height:5"5 (166cm)
Weight: 115 (52kg)
Record: 7-1 (5 via KO/TKO)

An exciting striker, Yan Xiaonan is arguably the best female fighter on Road FC's roster. Do not let the 8 fight record fool you, Yan has been fighting for a long time and has fought some tough opponents, notably Jin Tang and Gina Iniong. She made her pro-debut in 2009, but took almost a 5 year break between 2010 and 2015. With women's mma becoming more and more popular across the globe, Yan was drawn back to the cage in 2015 and has most recently been fighting for Road FC. An explosive Sanda fighter, Yan is not only one of the best fighters on Road FC's roster, she is one of the best fighters from China in general.


CJ: Can you talk about your fighting background and how you decided to go pro?

YX: I was a student at the Xian Sports Institute training under coach Zhao Xue Jun since I was 16 years old and twice went to the national games in Sanda.  Before going to Xian I was at the local sports school in my home town in Pan Jing Liao Ning. I also took part in MMA events in Xian that was organized by Ultimate Wrestle, they did about 30 events back in 2005 to 2010.  They are actually the first MMA event in China.  The Ultimate Wrestle MMA event was held every month and sometimes twice a month and there I got my first experience in MMA in their event.

I love martial arts and as a child growing up my dad also trained me in martial arts thus I can say that martial arts is our family sport.  During my time at the Xian Sports Institute, I competed in many Sanda events at the city level, provincial level and have won some provincial titles.  I went to the National Games twice in Sanda.  Most fighters finish after going once, however, I love Sanda so much I trained for a second chance to go.  I also in took part in MMA events such as Ultimate Wrestle.  Many of my teammates that were older competed in the Art of War thus many of our team members were also training in Beijing to fight in MMA events internationally and I just love watching them fight with limited rules.  In 1999 I was offered an opportunity to fight in Martial Combat in Singapore and since then I have been fighting in MMA events.

CJ: Looking at your record, there is a big gap between 2010-2015, what happened? Why did you stop? Why did you come back?

YX: In 2010 I was fighting in Martial Combat and Ultimate Wrestle.  I distinctly remember 2010 in Ultimate Wrestle as I beat Tang Jin in first minute of bout, they had pride rules so we can stomp on our opponents.  It was much more aggressive than fighting now because they do not allow stomp on fighters and soccer kicks when down, and also some even now cannot knee head or do elbow strikes.  In 2011 I went to Singapore to fight twice in Martial Combat.  In 2012  I started competing in Muay Thai events and also hold a national title in that.  At that time there were not so many events in MMA in China open to girls.  The ones that were available I have competed in.  In 2015, Alvin at URCC offered me an opportunity to fight and I wanted to get back into fighting in MMA.

CJ: Your English nickname is "fury", which reflects your aggressive style. Can you describe your fight style for new fans?

YX: My name Fury was giving to me during Martial Combat which basically is how I fight.  I am aggressive, fast and relentless in going after my opponent.  My striking ability comes from top coaches that I have trained under - Coach Zhao Xue Jun, whom is also coach to many of China’s top champions such as:  Anhu, Bao Li Gao, Zhao Zi Long, Na Xun, Qing Ge Le, Wang Guan, Bateer and many other top champions.  The biggest difference I can tell you is that we like to KO our opponents and consistent training in the basics of power striking skills, cardio and conditioning.

CJ: As a Sanda fighter do you watch fighters like Cung Le?

YX: Cung Le is famous in USA and know who he is, he fought my coach NaXun (Mongol King)  in Hawaii, however I have not watched many of Cung Le's fights, I have seen him in some Hollywood movie.  I have watched fighters like Ernesto Hoost, Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, Giorgio Petrosyan in Kickboxing.  I like to watch Pride fighters like Wanderlei Silva and now guys like Jon Jones and recently Conor McGregor and of course Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm.

CJ: Which fight of yours should a new fan watch? A fight you're particularly proud of that showcases you.

YX: Hard to say which fight showcases my skills, probably the one most seen is me fighting Gina Iniong from the Philippines in Martial Combat.  My kick went into her mouth, that was a first time for me to have that happen to an opponent and I received some fan mail from Singapore which I still remember.  My current fights in Road FC highlights my style, however I think it still needs lots of improvement as I am still waiting to KO my opponent.

CJ: You've fought some pretty tough fighters (Gina, Jin, ect.), does that boost your confidence?

YX: I have fought in many Sanda and Muay Thai fights and the experience carries over to MMA fights.  I am not too worried about my opponents as I train full time and and prepared to fight.  My toughest fight was against Mongolian National Wrestling Champion Bayarmaa Munkhegerel because she had real good take downs and ground skills, she had recently won prize in an international BJJ event at blue belt level and was it a bigger than me thus I was worried about going to the ground with her.

CJ: Can you describe your average day?  Your training schedule?

YX: I have two training sessions everyday.  In the mornings I alternate days to work on strength, conditioning and in the afternoon I train at the Beijing Shaolin School because one of my senior team mates from Xian - Li Zhi Qiang - is a coach there.  I also train at CTT for some of my ground game as my ex team mate - Zhang Tie Quan, Li Jing Liang are there.   I also train at different camps to learn from different instructors to expand my knowledge and to also to find proper instructors that fits my style.  Also its good for me to spar with different fighters and opens my experience to different fight styles.  My training sessions are usually two to three hours long, I spend most my time on the basics of foot work, striking, grappling, takedowns, submissions.  The usual for all MMA fighters I think, however I stick to my striking more as that is my core competence.

CJ: Congratulations on getting married! What was it like fighting so close to your wedding?

YX: Thanks, my husband Zhang Yang supports me very much on my endeavor to chase my dreams to continue my career in MMA. The fight in Road FC was very close to my wedding, I went to Beijing to check in same afternoon as my wedding, however we had to drive about 8 hours and got there evening before weight ins.  I did not get to enjoy the food at my wedding as I had to cut a kilo.  It was a learning experience for me too as I did not get enough time to train for my fight, there are so many details for my wedding especially when there are so many family members to deal with and also many things to do for a wedding.  I felt that I could have fought much better and be more aggressive.  My game was a bit compromised from the lack of proper training.  My opponent being a Sanda fighter was very tough and put up a good fight.

CJ: You're one of the top Chinese fighters, can you talk about what representing China means to you?

YX: I love the sports and competitive aspects of being an athlete.  I am proud to representing China, however its not only that which I feel is most important.  I am also representing my team, my family, my coaches, instructors and all those that believe in me,  they have spent their time working with me and helping me chase my dreams.  It is also their dreams that I succeed and winning is the fruit of everyone’s labor.  I am just trying to be the best I can, learning and growing as a martial artist and I think that represents what being a true top Chinese athlete is about.  I don’t do fake fights, I don’t do special favors, when I step in the ring to do my best and beat my opponent.  During my days at the sports institute we just train hard, compete whenever we can and try to win every fight.  That I believe is the spirit a true fighter and that is what it means when I win.  If I can represent my country and win, I am glad I can.   I like to focus on the training and there is so much to learn and many people from all over the world that have helped me grow as an athlete.  There are also many top athletes in China that has come from the same system that I have thus when I win a fight, I also feel that my victory is what I am giving back to them all their hard work.  I respect all my opponents that have stood opposite of me no matter what country they are from, I have fought fighters from Russia, American, Philippines, Mongolia, Korea, to me they are firstly an athlete with much courage and deserve 100% of my respect.  I think that martial arts transcends borders, countries and nationalities, I want to also thank all my Chinese audience fans and international fans for their support and patronage that is making MMA a popular sport.

CJ: I read that your ultimate goal is the UFC, can you talk about that?

YX: I want to fight in the top event in MMA and I believe that the UFC is the pinnacle of MMA in the world.  I want face top opponents as it is a challenge to myself and my abiilties..  I know that with the proper training and preparation I can compete with the best. A few of my teammates has gone to UFC, Li Jing Liang, Jumabieke, Wang An Ying, Yang Jian Ping, Zhang Li Peng and I know I can compete at that level and win.

CJ: Can you talk about the WMMA scene in China?  Is it growing?  Do you see more women in the gym?

YX: There is a growing number of female MMA fighters in China.  Many are crossing over from Sanda. Some of the top ones I have seen are from the Xian Sports Institute and Wuhan Sports Institute. Currently there is a sudden demand of female fighters which is good but also has its drawbacks as some are highly promoted and not up to par with the ones from the sports institutes.  The interest of females in this sport is growing very slow in comparison to the west, I think that it will change in the future as more and more athlete from Judo, Wrestling and Boxing will move into this sport.  There are many champion female athletes in China as you can see in the Olympics and world games.  The environment has to be there for them to make a move into this sport.  I hope that I can motivate more females into this sport.  I think that by winning I will be able to set an example for many females to follow.

CJ: What do you like to do when you're not fighting?

YX: I do the usual girl thing, go to movie, go out with my friends, maybe play some basketball.  I am not into make up or fancy clothing.  I like things simple and to spend time with my parents.   Being with my parents is very important to me, when I was at the Xian Sports Institute I only see them once a year or at a major event thus I got little time to spend with them.  During holidays we train, the only time off is Chinese New Years and it is so hard to get a train ticket home.  I know they are there for me and support me by giving me space and time to be with my team mates and coaches to train, now that I have more of my own time when I am not training for a fight I will go home to Panjing, Liao Ning to spend time with them.  At home I will cook, watch TV and spend time talking with my parents as we have so much to catch up on. Actually I like to cook with my parents cause I miss the food I had growing up.  In Xian we eat lots of meat and noodle, when I go home I get to cook up some seafood, make some dumplings, and my relatives will visit and we will watch some of my fight videos.

CJ: Is there anything you'd like to say?  Anyone you want to thank? A message for the fans?

YX: I want to thank all my fans for watching my fights, my parents their support and importantly my Coaches - Zhao Xue Jun, Na Xun, Wang Han, Zhang Tie Quan and Bill Eng for believing in me and all their time and effort in helping me succeed as a athlete.  I want to thank all the organisers that have given me opportunities - Road FC, URCC, Beijing Fight Nights, North East Art of War, Ultimate Wrestle and my competitors for stepping up to fight me.

CJ: Can we expect to see you in the cage soon?

YX: Yes, I hope very soon.