Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old but Good; Props to http://www.athenamedusa.com/?p=67#more-67

East West Women’s Tournament

review by Charles Smith

Becky Reaver, Abby Bork, Jen AnianoEast West Martial Arts’ inaugural women’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament was a great success. The event was held on Saturday, April 25 2009 at their school in Canton Michigan. The proceeds went to support a local women’s shelter.

More than twenty woman from the mid-west (and Canada too, I believe) took to the mat for a day of double elimination competition in both gi and no-gi matches with white and blue belt divisions. The tournament ran smoothly, though there were a few delays and some questions about scoring, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from a first time event. The competition itself was high energy and enjoyed by grapplers and audience alike. The highlights included some great technical work by the young women, who are going to be absolute machines by the time they’re adults and a great technical tour-de-force between Abby Bork and Becky Reaver. Once the videos are up, be sure to check out the barrage of flying arm-bars in the matches between Abby and Mona too. The two of them met four times in some of the toughest, knock-down, drag-out action of the day. I’m telling you, these grapplers are hard core!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention mixed martial arts fighter Jen Aniano, who’s most recent fight in the Premier League Fighting Championship is on video. Jen does it all: Mixed martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, submission wrestling, you name it.

After the tournament, organizers had pizza and Xyience (Thanks Becky!) on hand for everyone. When was the last time you got free eats at a tournament?! Below we feature a few photos (with videos coming soon) and information about the next East West women’s tournament.


Young GrapplersBlue BeltsYoung Grapplers

Stacie KreiserBecky ReaverAbby Bork

East West Women's TournamentXyienceBecky Reaver

Jen Aniano, Abby Bork, MonaBecky Reaver, Abby Bork, Jen AnianoBecky Reaver, Abby Bork

Abby Bork, Stacie KreiserIn addition to grappling Becky Reaver is also a professional event photographer (www.Reaver.SmugMug.com) and has posted more photos on Flickr.


More Information

The second East West Womens Tournament in planned for September 2009. For more information contact:

East West Martial Arts
7950 Lilley Rd. Suite B112
Canton, MI 48187
(734) 414-7789

Posted in BJJ, NoGi, Photo, Video. Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Fighter Girls Article

A look at Up-and-Comers in the Fight World. A Personal look at these girls' backgrounds, experiences, and lifestyles. These girls are the Future of Women's Fighting.
Jen "Tink" Aniano
10/17/2009 11:00:22 PM
Posted by MarQ

Michigan’s Jen "Tink" Aniano is dedicated to the sport of mma from all sides. Being a journalism major, blogger, and reporter for The Bleacher Report, Aniano proves she can show her skills outside the cage as well as inside. With an amateur record of 2-0, Aniano is well on her way to being successful in and outside the cage.

Fightergirls - How did you get started in MMA?

Aniano - I started in MMA through wrestling. I was a high school and college wrestler. I met my trainer at a national tournament. He asked me if I would be interested and I was. The story starts there.

Fightergirls - What drives your passion for fighting?

Aniano - My passion for fighting comes from my love of the sport. I train everyday and I love every minute of it. My teammates are like my family and MMA offers me a support system like no other. I would probably die with out fighting. I cannot see myself doing or being anything else.

Fightergirls - Being a writer and blogger, how has that helped in your training and how has training helped in writing?

Aniano - I love writing about MMA and I believe that writing helps my training because I can be objective and understand what I need to do in the gym by watching professionals do what they do. My being in the gym helps my writing because I understand fighting form the inside.

Fightergirls - How was the transition from traditional wrestling to mma?

Aniano - Transitioning from wrestling to MMA was not that hard. I still compete in wrestling as well as cagefights. I am also a BJJ fighter and submission grappler. And I will start competing in boxing soon. So, to me, Mixed Martial Arts is all of these things. Being a true artists means competing in all of the sports that go into fighting. I never had to give up wrestling it is still in my life. And wrestling has only made me a better fighter.

Fightergirls - Any upcoming fights?

Aniano - I have a fight on Halloween and the second weekend in November. All of my fights in MI are often two weight classes up so I look at them as experience. I am hopefully going to get some fights in Ohio soon at my weight to start building a national record. I plan to go pro by next summer. I am also wrestling in the NYAC holiday tournament in November. And I am grappling December 5th.

Jessica Eye
10/15/2009 1:38:16 AM
Posted by MarQ

Fighter Jessica Eye has people looking. The 125 pound Ohio fighter out of the Strong Style Fight team just racked up her fourth amateur victory at the inaugural North American Allied Fight Series, defeating Marcia May this past weekend.When she is not training, Jessica hosts the Co-host NAAFS Radio on SportsTalkNETWORK.com & SportsRadio 1350am WARF in Akron, OH.

Fightergirls - How did you get started in MMA?

Jessica - I just fell into it, I went to a local NAAFS show and met both my coaches thru a mutaul friend when I was 19, they invited me down to try a few classes and I instantly fell in love!

Fightergirls - What drives your passion for fighting?

Jessica - Everything , all the hard work you put into leading up to it. I love the dedication the self worth, and the intenseness of the sport.

Fightergirls - Being a radio fight analyst, has it helped you be a better fighter and has being a fighter helped you in being a radio personality?

Jessica - I think Be on the radio help me look at both parts of a fight as a spectator and a athlete. I get to see alot of fights and I get to learn from them, I like to think as myself as a human sponge soak up all the information and skill i possible can , and use what I feel is aaclable to me.. I don't really think radio has helped me be a better fight just provided me with oppurtunity see it from other angles.

Fightergirls - Are you more comfortable with your jiu-jitsu or your Muay Thai?

Jessica - Jui-jitsu I guess, but muay thai Inspires me cause I played Soccer for many years before I started MMA. So I love the leg kick aspect.. I have the great Jui -jitsu coach Gold medalist in the Pan American Games, so My BJJ is getting better and My Thai coach is Absolutely great too!!!

Fightergirls - Any fights coming up?

Jessica - Yes I just recently Had a fight here in Ohio And won taking my record to 4- 0! But I will be fighting Again in the NAAFS in Ohio on Dec 5.. I very excited for my career and Women MMA to continue to grow and become bigger...Thank you so much for ever.

Sarah Moras
10/6/2009 2:24:27 AM
Posted by MarQ

Sarah Moras has had a banging start to her amateur career. Moras competed in the Tigerbalm grappling tournament in Vancouver, in which she won the first match by points and the second by triangle, winning the all ranks division with only 5 months of training. After training for 2 1/2 years, Moras is undefeated, winning her first fight by decision and her second vis first round submission.

Moras took a big step towards going pro by heading across the big pond to London to train with on of the best fighters in the world, Rosi Sexton. This is leading to her first professionsal match on Nov. 22 with Danielle West on Kayo-MMA card in Watford, England. Moras took some time to talk about her quickly rising career.

Fightergirls - How did you get started in MMA?

I started MMA because a friend of mine was a fighter and told me I should check out a class, after the first class i was hooked.

Fightergirls - What drives your passion for fighting?

I love challenges, and MMA has to be one of the most challenging sports out there if not the most challenging. There is always ALWAYS something new to learn, and you can learn off something from everyone.

Fightergirls - What is is like training with Rosi Sexton?

Training with Rosi is amazing. I am so lucky. She is like everyone a fighter needs all wrapped up into one person. She's a machine and always on the go. I can't wait to see myself progress as I train with her.

Fightergirls - Are you more comfortable with your jiu-jitsu or your Muay Thai?

I'm most comfortable with my Jiu Jitsu.

Stephanie Webber
9/29/2009 3:54:21 PM
Posted by MarQ

Stephianie Webber has just come off a dominating victory over Patricia Vidonic on the Septemeber Tuff-n-uff card. Based out of Olympia, Washington, Webber has a great training partner in Strikeforce fighter Miesha Tate, and at a respectable 4-3, and is on the verge of going pro.

Fightergirls - How did you get started in MMA?

Webber - My Dad teaches wrestling techniques at Victory Athletics in Olympia and invited me to spend time with him at the gym. I have always been a hard working, competitive athlete and Dad thought I might like MMA and the challenges of working out hard again. At that particular time I found myself newly divorced and a newly single parent as well. The gym provided me a way to get in good shape, relieve stress and just feel better! I was immediately in love with the challenges of the sport and have been working hard at it ever since!

Fightergirls - What drives your passion for fighting?

Webber - Finding an exciting, non traditional sport that encourages women to be physically strong and competitive is what drives my passion for MMA. I learn something new every day and surprise my self and my coaches with what I can do on a regular basis. It’s very exciting and the more I let go in the ring the more excited I get thinking what the future might bring for me and other women who take on the challenges of MMA. I like to think I am setting a good example for other girls who want to take on non-traditional challenges in their lives whether it’s a sport or something else they are interested in doing.

Fightergirls - Coming from a grappling background, was it tough to transition to mma?

Webber - My grappling background was limited to wrestling pre-Junior High so I started with a pretty clean slate. My Dad helps me with technique and I have worked very hard to be a decent grappler. I train with Pro and amateur guys at the gym so while I’m not getting my butt kicked as bad as I used to, I’m still getting it kicked pretty good! This I think has been good for me because when I compete with women my own size and weight the grappling part of it doesn’t seem so challenging and it leaves me some room to work on other things in the ring.

Fightergirls - You just won this past weekend - how do you think you are about ready to go pro?

Webber - I was very excited about my performance in my last fight. The girl I fought is going Pro and if you watched the fight I killed her all 3 rounds. At some point, even if you have skills to work on, you have to take the leap and commit yourself to competing on a professional level. I am definitely ready to do that.

Amanda Wilcoxen
9/20/2009 12:18:51 AM
Posted by MarQ

Amanda Wilcoxen is on a hot streak. Being an undefeated 8-0 in the amateur mma ranks, this "All American-Girl" can also tout being champion in Sanshou in her division from the 2006 Fists Against Hunger, first place in the Bando Kickboxing tournament in 2007, placing 1st place in Women's Light Heavy Weight NO-GI Intermediate and 3rd place in the Women's Expert Open Weight NO-GI Advanced in the past few years.

Her diverse background in wrestling, Aikido, combat jujitsu, kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai has helped her rise to the top of the amatuer ranks in all forms of martial arts, and she took some time to talk to Fightergirls about her flurrishing career.

Fightergirls - How did you get started in MMA?

Wilcoxen - I started a few months after I started my foundation in Aikido at a local dojo in town. I was always a shy girl by nature, but when I watched the jujitsu classes it reminded me a lot of my older brother and I rough housing all the time. I think that really grasped my attention and there were like no women that really did the sport. I like doing things that are unique and not the typical "girly" sports.

Fightergirls - What drives your passion for it?

Wilcoxen -I think my passion lies in that it's something that's a challenge for me to not only become better physically/technique wise, but as a person overall. I see and hear people whine about things they can or can't do because of whatever reason and I never wanted to be that person that made excuses for herself. MMA is something you can never perfect and you have to constantly work at. It's not just swinging a golf club to hit a ball, but you have to be well rounded in everything: boxing, wrestling, grappling, conditioning, nutrition, the art of weight cutting/weight gaining etc. You can never be one dimensional or you can get yourself in big trouble....and I talk from experience -lol-.

Fightergirls - You has a vast background in martial arts - can you tell us how being so diverse has helped you in MMA?

Wilcoxen - I think my background in Aikido has helped my overall movement in stand up and understanding the ground game better. No doubt my Judo in conjunction with Aikido helps me recognize throws and how to fall properly. And the diversity comes into play when I go up against women that have these amazing skills (i.e., boxing) and I have to switch to my jujitsu and wrestling background. Vice versa, when the girl's ground game is just as good or perhaps superior to mine, I play the stand up game.

Fightergirls - You are currently undefeated in your amateur career. At what point do you think you will turn pro?

Wilcoxen - By the grace of God and thanks to being coached by Bob Morgan, Sr am I undefeated. I think I'll turn pro in 2010--my manager/trainer, Bob Morgan, says a few more fights and he wants to take me to the next level. Hopefully if I do well in my next two fights in October & December, that's when I'll go pro (Jan 2010 or so). If I lose? Then I'll ask him to postpone me going pro until mid 2010.

Fightergirls - Any upcoming fights?

Wilcoxen - Actually yeah. I'm killing myself to trim down for the October 9, 2009 NAAFS in Cleveland, OH where I have the honor to face the tough & highly skilled Marie Colangelo. I think we're gonna give a really good show. God willing, if I do well in that fight, I'll progress to fight again for an amateur title belt on Decemeber 5, 2009 in Akron, OH. But I'm just focusing on one fight at a time because Marie Colangelo is no joke!

Nina Ansaroff
9/13/2009 1:24:04 AM
Posted by MarQ

To say that Nina Ansaroff is off to a stunning start in the amateur ranks is an understatement. A product of American Top Team, she came out with a bang with her first two fights ending with some impressive ground and pound. Her last fight verse Christy Tada only took 46 seconds. Ansaroff is looking for her next fight, but took time to discuss her blossoming career.

How did you get started in the sport?

Growing up in a single parent home, my father way always trying to find a way to keep us busy, So When I was 6 he started me in Tae Kwon do/American Kick Boxing/Muay Thai under Mike Lee Kanarek and I fell in Love wit it. I started competing in Tournaments when I was 7 until I was 16. I took a break and started playing soccer. A little over a year ago I saw an EliteXC event and decided to get back into it.

What drives your passion for it?

My Family and Friends, although they don’t agree with what I do they are still stand behind me 100%.

You have been working with one of the best training facilities in the country in American Top Team. What's it like to train there?

It is Amazing; I am constantly learning new things everyday. It is my second home. I couldn’t ask for better coaches and teammates.

You came from a kickboxing background and now you are training in mma. How is it transitioning?

The transition has been somewhat easy for me, I am still learning new things on the ground, but overall the transition is going well.

Is there anything you've learned from being in mma?

That there is always something new to learn. The possibilities are endless.

Beth Revell
9/6/2009 1:10:03 AM
Posted by MarQ

Beth Revell is trying to do her part to other people make better lives for themselves by working towards a master's degree in scoial work. But at night, she works to help herself be at the top of her game. The submission wrestler turned mma fighter has been rounding out her strike game, with the help of tough mma fighter Valerie Coolbaugh. Revell is no stranger to being hit hard, as one of her part time hobbies in school was spelunking. She admitted to getting hit by a rock or two a few times. Unlike exploring caves, there is no helmets to protect your head when getting pummeled by punches. As Revell gears up for her first boxing match, she took some time to talk about her preparation and her amateur career.

Fightergirls: How did you get started in the sport?

Revell: When I moved to Edwardsville for school I decided to take group kickboxing classes for fun, I enjoyed it, but I didn't like how cheorographed it was and wanted to really engage. I got busy with classes and quit going. I did an internship at a child welfare agency and realized how vulnerable I really was so I contacted the kickboxing instructor and set up private lessons with her. I enjoyed the lessons but they transistioned into jiu jitsu, and then we added some boxing. I told her (Peggy Brooks) that I wanted to fight so she told me about the the War Room in Wood River. She used to train with those guys when she was learning. I 've been at the War Room ever since.

Fightergirls: What drives your passion for it?

Revell:I have had a pretty poor body image my whole life, even though I was never really big. The training that I have done has definately made me physically and mentally stronger. I actually called my Mum before my last scheduled fight crying (happily) and told her for the first time in my life I am comfortable in my skin.

I also love feeling strong, it is empowering to know that I can physically handle myself in various situations and that I am a healthy person. I know that some guys get into rivalries with the guys that they are supposed to fight or have fought, but for me it isn't about the other person, it is about me testing myself.

Fightergirls: What's it like training with Valerie Coolbaugh?

Revell: Training with Val is fun. I have received more goose eggs from her than I have from any of the guys. And it's not cause they take it easy on me, it's cause she's vicious. Ha ha. We have fun together, we were singing together during grappling last week. Her stand up is awesome, but I can take her, just kidding!!! She's really supportive and a blast to be around.

Fightergirls: You came from a wrestling background and now you are training in boxing. How is it transitioning?

Revell: Even though I started out in submission wrestling, I didn't have a wealth of knowledge about it, so I've been learning it all pretty much at the same time. One of my friends coaches wrestling so this year I might actually go to some of his practices to learn some stuff. I enjoy it all, but when people ask me what I enjoy most if it is a stand up day I usually say ground work, and vice versa.

Fightergirls: Is there anything you've learned from being in mma?

Revell: I am strong, I am more comfortable with my body ever, and if you are lucky enough to join a good gym you gain another family. It's nice to know that my team is there for me to be supportive if it has to do with life issues, training or school.

Fightergirls: What matches to you have coming up? (mma, boxing, grappling, ect.)

Revell: I fight MMA up in Chicago for Bob Schirmer Sept 12th, Boxing in Arnold, Mo Sept 26th, and MMA October 3rd for Adam Marburger for the Warriors Collide show.

Barb Honchak
6/9/2009 6:34:13 PM
Posted by Erin Webb

Written by George Syroney

Photograph Courtesy of Elizabeth Winters

Barb Honchak won the GFight Rising Star Championship at the Hook’n’Shoot 14th Year Anniversary Super Show on May 30th. She didn’t have the easiest of paths. First she fought Lissa Braverman and earned a unanimous decision to get to the finals. Then she submitted Christina Domke in the finals. Both were exciting fights from 3 top amateurs.

Fightergirls: Barb those were awesome fights. Congratulations. Thanks for taking time to talk to fightergirls.com

Barb: Thank you for covering the Hook’n’Shoot event and the opportunity for this interview!

Fightergirls: Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Barb: I have been training MMA for 2 years at Steve Berger’s MMA in St. Louis MO. In addition to training, I stay busy balancing my career as a laboratory manager and my home life with my husband Timm. We are both avid outdoor enthusiasts and in addition to fighting I take part in a slew of activities including kayaking, mountain and road biking, snow boarding and backpacking. I have a simple philosophy on life; I believe we are meant to really experience our lives by testing the limits of our bodies, minds and hearts with reckless disregard to our egos. My life has taken many unexpected turns, none as unexpected as my addiction to fighting. Non-violent and fairly passive by nature, I fell into mixed martial arts by way of Brazilian jiu jitsu and Steve Berger. For my love of the rush and the constant challenge, this sport has taken my life over like nothing I have experienced. I measure my success, both in fighting and in my personal life, by knowing that I live simply for life’s experiences. In that regard, I am already very wealthy and still have much to look forward to.

Fightergirls: What is your favorite part of being a mixed martial artist?

Barb: My favorite part of this sport is testing my limits. I like to find my physical, mental and emotional thresholds and then see how far I can push myself beyond them.

Fightergirls: Women’s MMA seems to be growing in acceptance. There were two women’s fights right before the main event. How do you feel about the current state of FeMMA?

Barb: We are not there yet. There are so many incredible female fighters who are virtually unknown. Like most sports, professional women still do not get the recognition that the men do. Women’s fighting is both intriguing and taboo, so even the people who say we don’t belong in this sport will watch. Because for them, it will be like driving by an accident, they will want to look away but won’t be able to.

Fightergirls: The Lissa Braverman fight went the distance. What was your game plan going into that fight?

Barb: At the last G-fight, where Lissa also attended, I got to show my BJJ skills in my fight and in the grappling tournaments. I expected that I was coming into this tournament marked as a ground fighter. I knew Lissa had a lot of stand up experience and probably anticipated me going for the take down. Because of her experience, I looked at Lissa as the perfect person to test my stand up game with. So, my game plan was to stand with her.

Fightergirls: Christina really fought that triangle for a while. Did you plan on taking her to the ground?

Barb: I was prepared to take my fight against Christina wherever it ended up. I knew she had a great ground game, but I am comfortable there as well. She had very good defense against my triangle, but I got it pretty early in the round and knew I had time to adjust and let her tire out, so I held it.

Fightergirls: Jeff Osborne told the crowd he felt the women in the competition were among the top amateurs in their weight classes. What will best indicate that it is time to step up to the pro ranks?

Barb: We have been talking about going pro a lot lately. I am at a place where we are keeping our eyes open for the right opportunity. My coach would like for me to have 10 amateur fights before moving up, but if a good offer came up, we would certainly consider it.

Fightergirls: Who do you think is the best pro in your weight class today?

Barb: The best pro in my class is Megumi Fuji. She is amazing!

Fightergirls: Do you have another fight lined up yet?

Barb: The next one is on June 27th. I am not sure who it will be against yet or where it will be because there are two different show trying to get me on their card.

Fightergirls: I know that in the fightergirls.com forums someone said they would like to have seen Lauren Feldman get to the finals. How would you feel about fighting her somewhere down the road?

Barb: Lauren looked great at Hook’n’Shoot. One of the promoters mentioned her as a potential fighter for their June 27th card. I would love to take that fight.

Fightergirls: You fought almost a total of 15 minutes that night. How do you feel about the women pros fighting 5 minute rounds like their male counterparts?

Barb: I think woman pros should have 5 minute rounds. The more experienced fighters are more technical and the fight requires more strategy. Fights with 3 minute rounds don’t give the fighters time to feel each other out the way the men do. The fights get rushed and they end up looking less skilled then they really are.

Fightergirls: Thanks again Barb. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Barb: Yes, I have so many people to thank. Thank you to my husband Timm, who helps keep me balanced. My MMA and BJJ coach Steve Berger, thank you for believing in me even when I have doubted myself. I also want to thank Kevin Bozada, Valerie Coolbaugh and Mark Botindry for their contributions to my training. Finally, I want to give my gratitude to my amazing team, especially the guys who look beyond my gender and train with me like any another fighter.

Lynn "Lights Out" Alvarez
1/26/2009 4:40:28 PM
Posted by Erin Webb

Name: Lynn "Lights Out" Alvarez

Record: Pro 4-1

Weight Class: 115-120 lb

Fights Out of: Raydord Martial Arts/Legion Jiujitsu in Las Vegas, NV

How did you get into fighting: I started off training Kajukenbo, which is a traditional mixed martial art comprised of Karate, Judo, Jiujitsu, Kenpo, and Chinese boxing. I earned my black belt, and it was just a matter of time until I started actively competing. My instructor, Sifu Joe Solie, mentioned the idea of full contact fighting, and I was all for it. We started off with some kickboxing matches, then transitioned to MMA.

Toughest opponent to date: I would have to say Michelle Ould. She was a very tough opponent, very well rounded, had A LOT of heart and was very strong. It was a real battle in all aspects of our fight. She's a great fighter/person and I hope to see her competing again soon.

Who would you most like to fight: Hmm...I am pretty set on avenging my one loss, which is against Angela Magana.

Next fight: Feb. 28, 2009, Freestyle Cage Fighting, opponent is Angela Magana, the Bantamweight Champion.

Training Regimen: I train 6 days a week in Muay Thai, jiujitsu, and judo. I do cardio 5 days/week and weight training 4 days a week.

Other Hobbies: Racquetball

Goal for 2009: My goal is to constantly become a better fighter and improve in all aspects of my game.

Anything you want to add: Thank you to my manager, Sam Wilson. My coaches Kenny Rayford and Cameron Diffley. My dad, the best father in the world. The greatest boyfriend ever, Shandon Eguchi, and my best friend, Paul Hirayama. :) Without these people, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Jessica Bednark
1/23/2009 7:39:41 AM
Posted by Erin Webb

Name: Jessica Bednark Record: 5-1 Pro MMA, 0-1 World Combat League, 0-1 Pro Boxing

Weight Class: 135, had my 1st two MMA fights at 145, fought spring 2008 in the WCL at 128

Fights Out of: St. Cloud, MN . There is a boxing gym in town that my boyfriend Jay and I use as a facility to train in. My boyfriend Jay has solid wrestling skills (placed in State twice in high school in Minnesota) and has been kickboxing for about 5 years. He is 5'4, 140 lbs, so he is the same weight as me. I thought I had a harder work ethic than anyone I trained with until I met Jay. He pushes me hard every day, wearing me out and expecting me to not slow my pace or get sloppy. He is the best training partner I've ever had because he has such high expectations and is very impatient if I don't meet them very quickly. Unlike a lot of guys, he seems oblivious to me being a girl and will hit me hard when we spar and be very rough when we wrestle and practice jiu-jitsu. There is nowhere to learn MMA in St. Cloud. When we have money (we're catching up from being on disability) we drive a little over an hour to the cities (area) to train at Northway Gym (former UFC champ Dave Menne's gym).

How did you get into fighting: I started karate at 13 years old. Despite it being American sport karate (point fighting) when we were not competing, we sparred with heavy contact at my karate school. I did well when I competed in point sparring, but I always thought that I would do better in full contact fighting (where there isn't a break every time a kick or punch is landed) because I can take and deliver hard strikes. I didn't even know what MMA was until I was 18. When I was 19, I took my 1st MMA fight and won by rear naked choke in the 3rd round. A week later, I got ejected from a car, breaking my back (in addition to 4 bulging discs in my back) and tearing my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I was on bed rest for a few months. I could not go back to work or training for almost a year. During my recovery, I decided that when I got better I was going to train for MMA and fight. In the spring of 2007, I started going back to the gym. My back was too messed up at first to kick, but I boxed for a few months and slowly rehabilitated myself into being able to do everything again. About 2 months after I had been back in the gym, my 1 training partner - my boyfriend Jay - tore his ACL wrestling. What he was told was going to be a 3 week recovery turned into a 6 month recovery after he had surgery. Money was tight trying to catch up on bills from being on disability for so long, and now my boyfriend was making less than half of his usual paychecks. We were strapped for money, and I didn't think I was ready to fight (cause my ground game was non-existent), but I took a fight anyway. The girl I fought was 3-0 amateur and 3-0 pro. I knocked her out cold in the 3rd round. It didn't pay much, but it made the car payment that month and lifted our spirits. I kept fighting and kept winning, despite feeling that I wasn't getting the training I needed. So here I am now, busting my ass every day, trying to absorb what I can with anyone who will teach me, sparring with whoever walks in the gym every day, just trying to be faster and stronger and in better cardio shape than the next girl I fight.

You mentioned fighting for Chuck Norris' World Combat League, what was that experience like: I fought on the Miami Force team. Al Wichers, one of the refs for the WCL, refereed my second MMA fight in Wisconsin. I knocked the chick I fought out cold in the 3rd round and after the fight he told me I should fight for the WCL. This was September 2007 and the season for WCL started in about a month. I had just cut weight for the 1st time (only 7lbs) to make 145. When he told me that I had to weigh in at 128 to fight, I didn't think I could make it - I hadn't been below 140 in years. My next fight (5 months later) was at 135. I cut from 150 again and weighed in at 133 and felt great during the fight. I figured, what's another 5 pounds, I can do that, so I called up Al and told him I wanted to fight for WCL the next season. He told me there was a girl that was injured on one team and they needed someone to fill her spot for the playoffs. A month later, I started for the Miami team in the playoffs. We fought the New York team. I fought Jennifer Santiago, who is ranked higher than any other chick in the WCL. Her back round is karate and boxing. She fights like a point fighter, a very good one. She likes to keep the distance and then come in and tag her opponents with a few quick strikes. She hates fighting in close. Every time I closed the distance, she fell on her butt (3 times in our 3 minute fight) and they'd just call it a slip and separate us. It kind of irritated me. We had an alright fight, it was close. We each landed a few good shots, but we blocked most of each other's strikes. She got the win and I think she deserved it. I felt like I moved really slowly during that fight. The weight cut was rougher than I expected. I cut from 142 to 126 (weighed in 2lbs under) in 4 days. I had trouble regaining my strength and keeping food down after that fight. This experience caused me to start dieting and eating better, and since that fight, I haven't cut (meaning starving and dehydrating/sweating) more than 5 pounds for any fight. I would like to do WCL again, but I need to take some time and get used to maintaining a much lower weight. I like taking kickboxing and boxing matches because I think it makes my MMA fighting better, but I never care to have a big career as a kickboxer or boxer. It was great to be able to fight in the World Combat League, but MMA is my focus. I take a lot of pride in my MMA fighting, because I feel like it is more physically and mentally demanding than other kinds of fighting. Oh, back to the WCL- our team lost, so we were done for the season.

Toughest opponent to date: Nana Berto, because she's the only person I've lost too. She is a very strong girl and she is aggressive on the feet and has very technical jiu-jitsu. I got choked in the 1st round. I don't feel like I fought very well that fight - I wasn't mentally focused - but regardless, she whooped my ass.

Who would you most like to fight: I really don't care. I'm not looking to go after any big names yet, I don't feel like I'm at that level yet. Right now I am really focused on getting consistent training from Dave Menne's gym and getting more experience. It was looking like I was going to fight Tonya Evinger a month ago, but that fell through. I expect we'll probably fight sometime in 2009. Kaitlin Young is right in Minnesota and I think we would put on a really entertaining fight if we fought. The problem is, I've yet to meet a promoter in Minnesota that pays decent - for MMA that is. Katlin Young and I were lined up to fight what would have been my second fight, but she withdrew to do the show that landed her a fight on Elite XC. I don't expect to get a fight with her any time soon. She goes to a gym that has a lot of recognition and I don't, so unless it's a big show I doubt we'll be fighting each other. My boyfriend wants me to get a fight with Sara Schnieder.

Next fight: I think I have a boxing match in January, but it hasn't been finalized yet. The next MMA fight I will have I believe will be January 31st for Combat USA. They put on really good shows and I really like the promoter. I think I will be fighting Karen Williams a second time. On Sept 29th, 2008, I TKOed her in 1 min 58 seconds into the 1st round. She didn't do a damn thing in those 2 minutes to deserve a rematch. I came out, threw a few kicks and punches, landed every single one, she rushed in, took me down and threw a few little punches to my face that did no damage, immediately I turned her, got on top of her and dropped punches and elbows to her face for the next 1 ½ minutes. I landed 4 elbows to her face in a row right before the ref stepped in and stopped it. She was tough, she was trying to fight out of it, but I don't think she has the skills to take me. I don't think she deserves a rematch. I don't think she has anything for me and I think I'm going to manhandle her a second time in our next fight. The reason they think she deserves a rematch is because the fight was for a belt, so it was 12 - 2 minute rounds (the promoter thinks it's more entertaining with the shorter rounds). So the ref stopped it 2 seconds before the end of the round, and a lot of people would have liked to see a second round. Plus, the fights are in Wisconsin, she's from Wisconsin and undefeated (until then) and some people from Wisconsin think she's tough just because they've seen her knock a couple chicks out. Doesn't matter, our re-match won't last long either.

Training Regimen: I spar 5 to 6 days a week, primarily with my boyfriend, but with whoever is willing to spar – kickboxers, boxers, mixed martial artists, tae kwon do dudes, ect. We spar 5 min rounds, 15 second rest for over an hour– no breaks. I also roll about 3 days a week. 3 to 4 days a week I hit bags with heavy gloves and sometimes weights on my ankles to work endurance, technique and speed. In the mornings before school I run at least 5 miles (slowly increasing the miles). I lifted weights through most of my teenage years, but quit when I broke my back. I just resumed weightlifting this week, but haven't come up with a real set plan for how I'm going to go about it, but I will keep it up because I feel like I'm getting old and losing my strength now that I just turned 22.

Other Hobbies/etc: I am going to school with the goal of becoming a physician's assistant. I started out going for art, but changed my major because I don't want to struggle so much to make money. I love to paint and draw, but rarely have time to do it. I live with my boyfriend who is a single father. I've been helping him raise his son since he was 17 months old and now he is 4. Not really a hobby, but very time consuming, but worth it. He is a great kid and comes to the gym with us while we train every day. They haven't nailed down what he has yet, but it's some form of asbergers - but he's very high functioning. He has speech, physical and occupational therapy twice a week and goes to a special preschool 3 times a week to get him ready for regular preschool, so taking turns running him around to his appointments is a very big part of my life as well. Other than that I just like hanging out with my boys and seeing my family whenever I can.

Goal for 2009: Arrange my finances so that I can train at Dave Menne's gym a few times every week. Also, I'd like to maintain a lower weight. I have been weighing about 142, fighting at 135 and I want to maintain 130, taking fights at 125 and 135. Anything you want to add: It's not on this website, but my pro record is 5-1 (my first fight was never reported and I'm sure it never will be – it was almost 3 years ago). But the fight I'm talking about is when I fought Karen Williams on Sept 29, 2008. I'm not sure if this is accurate (you guys would probably know better than anybody), but the promoter said that this fight was the 1st women's MMA main event on a card where all the other fights on the card were guy fights. It was for a belt that was vacant prior to that.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Jen Aniano Interview

Jen AnianoAthenaMedusa e-interviewed mixed martial arts fighter, Jen Aniano in July 2009. We’ve included video from her match in Premier League Fighting Championship 3.

Name: Jen “Tink” Aniano
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Born: 1986
Height: 5′ 0″
Weight: 115 lbs.
Family: Single with a Boston terrier named Jake, a pit bull named Casey, and a bearded dragon named Willis.

How long have you been training in mixed martial art?
Started wrestling at 15, MMA 2.5 years ago and jiu-jitsu 8 months.

What weight class do you compete in?
I walk around at 115lbs. Amateur I take match-ups mostly much bigger than me. When I turn pro within the next year or so I will be fighting at 105lbs. I am waiting to finish my intensive masters program at UofM before I go pro.

Where do you currently train?
Self Defense Academy of Michigan under Motor City Boxing and Jamel’s Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

What’s an average week’s training schedule for you, including any other type of training you do? (CrossFit, other martial arts, etc.)?
I just started my masters in June; however, when I am training full time I am in the gym 6 days a week. A typical Mon/Wed is BJJ 6-7 MMA 7-9:30. A typical Tues/Thurs is BJJ 7-9. A typical Friday MMA 6-9. Typical Sat is BJJ from 10-12 MMA from 1:30-4. Since I am now living in Ann Arbor and I am in class 9 hours a day I am taking a hiatus from BJJ and concentrating on MMA. I am at the gym Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat. Tues/Thurs/Sun I do rounds in my apartment alternating 5 min on a stationary bike, 5 min ground and pound rounds, 5 min shadow boxing, 5 minutes on a heavy bag, 5 min with resistance bands. I basically do that until I cannot stand it any longer. As you can imagine I do not entertain at my apartment as my living area is pretty much a gym with a tv.

Who influences you most in your training?
My trainer Dom O’grady. He shaped me. I have a wrestling background. Other than that I owe him everything I have accomplished. He is a brilliant fighter and I respect him and trust his training unconditionally.

Have you ever quit or considered quitting? Why/why not?
I have had a bad few weeks. I lost a fight I should not have lost and did not deserve to lose. And I grappled like I left my brain at home this weekend. The last few weeks have been a big adjustment period in my personal life as far as school and some other stuff that has gone on. But I am at this point where I am searching deep to find out what I really want and need. After I lost for a second a thought maybe I was not cut out for this. But then I realized I was born to do it. I could not live without MMA and without my teammates. I love this sport it is my life. I have never quite anything before and I do not ever plan on quitting. As that saying goes “I am a wrestler and I will reap what I sew.”

Would you describe yourself as addicted to training? If yes, what about it is so compelling? If not, why not?
Yes, I just cannot live without it. I need an outlet. Going to the bars and living the “young single life” is not my thing. I need structure.

How often do you compete in mixed martial art? In jiu-jitsu?
As often as possible I have only had 4 MMA fights in 2.5 yrs because of my small size. BJJ I would say three time per year.

Jen Aniano - PLFC 3

What benefits do you see to being one of relatively few women in the community? Disadvantages?
Advantages are the door is wide open disadvantages are I have to knock the door down to get through. There are a lot of people that support us but a lot of people that don’t. Another disadvantage is finding opponents small enough for a fair fight. Also the disparity in talent and technique between amateur and pro is astounding. You have to be very, very, very good to make it as a pro female fighter.

What are your short and long term goals?
Short term to complete this masters program and still train hardcore while also getting a few fights in. Long term goal is to be a pro.

What advice would you give to the women who are at the beginning of their mixed martial arts or jiu-jitsu journey?
Chin up. Everyone has to win and everyone has to lose. Let every experience teach you what you must improve on to move forward.

How do we get more women into this sport?
I believe chicks have this thing where they are very territorial. If you are the only woman on your team often times you do not want other chicks on the team. I don’t know why women get all petty like that but sometimes they do. So if you are a female MMA fighter be good to the women that try to join your team. Mold them and
shape them into good fighters. Training other women really does help your own game so embrace them.

Do you have any nicknames?
My trainer has this theory that you should never give yourself a nickname. It is something that has to happen and cannot be forced. So, “Tink” unfortunately happened to me. :) I have loved Peter Pan since I was a little kid, actually Hook is my second favorite movie too, so I have Tinkerbell attire. I showed up at the gym one day I had to cut some weight for my first MMA fight and I had this fleece Tinkerbell sweatshirt that had been my cutting sweatshirt since high school wrestling. Thus I was dubbed Jen “Tink” Aniano.

Anything else you’d like to add to help our readers get to know you better?
Watch for me out there. I plan on making the big leagues in the next two years.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Have to get my Head Back into the Game

The only thing preventing me from being a great fighter is my brain. I am going to hit the gym twice as hard now despite this intensive masters program. I will survive this year of school. student teaching and fighting. I will persevere and I will come out on top. I will reap what I sew.