Forged Feature: An Interview With The Champ

The past couple weeks here at Forged have been CRAZY! Crazy in the most awesome way.

Just in the past ten days we’ve had our Murph Challenge, several teams from Forged competed in a local Crossfit competition, a new Shred Challenge winner was announced, AND our resident badass Jess dominated her first MMA fight.


That’s what we wanted to talk about today.

Jess has been puttin’ in some serious work training for this fight and it was obvious when fight time came.

We asked Jess a few questions to get a little more insight into her journey.

How long have you been training at Forged?

I believe I started in Nov or Dec of 2014, so just over a year and a half.

When did you get into MMA fighting?

I started training in MMA just this past November. Before I started lifting weights I had always turned to cardio kickboxing as a form of exercise. I hopped around random martial arts gyms that offered kickboxing, did a 10 week session at Ferrell’s (their kickboxing is a joke), and finally ended up at a place called ILoveKickboxing, I was a member there for a year and a half before I became an instructor for almost another year.  I ended up having to leave ILoveKickboxing when my fulltime job changed. Anyway, some of the ILoveKickboxing instructors started training in a fight camp at Legacy Martial Arts, where I train now.  I joined the fight camp because I missed being around those people and that type of training.

I had always wanted to find someplace where I could hit and kick actual people, not just a bag, (and not get assault charges, haha). I have always wanted to be in a fight.  Maybe that seems silly to some people…but I had been training other people in kickboxing, yet I had never punched or kicked anything other than a stationary bag. I felt like I had to prove it to myself that I actually knew how to fight.

 Not everyone in the fight camp trains to fight MMA, some just do it as self-defense training, a way to work out, or just feel like a badass. But, most of the crew participates in local MMA fighting events, or want to at some point.  I saw my teammates get into that MMA cage and thought, hey if they can do it, I know I can. So I did.

Can you tell us about some of the specifics of your training leading up to the fight?

I am definitely an amateur fighter. I have no martial arts experience like taekwondo, karate, or jiu jitsu.  I used my kickboxing background to build on for my stand up game. I learned some basics in jiu jitsu for ground game, but, in MMA if you can’t get the jiu jitsu submission….you just gain control and punch the hell out them. Fight camp also provided cardio training for me, we did body weigh HIIT training, running, and sparing and grappling provided for some good cardiovascular training.

How do you believe your training here at Forged helped you during your fight? I know I noticed a HUGE disparity in strength between you and your opponent.

This questions leads back to my statement about gaining control and punching the hell out of them.  That was pretty much my plan.  I knew if I got on top of her I could hold her with my legs and she wasn’t going anywhere.  I worked really hard to get down to the 135 weight class and still maintain my strength to have this advantage. I was actually surprised to see my squat numbers go up as my body weight went down. I kind of wanted to pick this girl up and throw her on the ground…instead she just fell.

My opponent actually did a good job of wrist control. She had one of my wrists pretty much the whole time I think and covered her face with the other hand. She was squirmy as hell too. Before my fight I didn’t think I would get really tired in that three minutes. All the fast paced AMRAPS we do at Forged and extra running I had been doing, I thought I would be beyond conditioned. But keeping her down and throwing punches at the same time really did gas me out more than I thought it would.

From deciding you wanted to fight through the actual fight, what was your biggest takeaway from the whole experience?

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t think anything is out of your reach. I didn’t think I could get down to the 135lb weight class that my coach wanted me to compete at. I was more scared about making weight than getting punched in the face.  I think I weighed 148 for like a minute, (I think it was after my first Forged challenge Jan 2015) and that is the lowest weight I can remember in the past 12 years. Plus I had gained a lot of muscle since then. I know that pretty much everyone in fitness says “don’t focus on the scale”.  Well, I had to, and it was horrible. Hahaha. But now I know what it takes to get there: determination and consistency.  Also, I know how to fuel my body for performance AND weight loss. This took a bit of trial and error with macros and some consulting with a nutritionist.  In the end I was able to get quicker and stronger and cut a considerable amount of weight.

Now that the fight is over, what goals are you working towards with your training?

I want to build up my strength even more. I’m going a little crazy with the junk food this week, but I will get back to properly fueling my body, and hoping that the added NUTRITIOUS calories will help me in my strength training at Forged. My goal is to start marking off the red band requirements starting with my squats. I will tell you, I ate like crap this weekend, and I felt super weak on my squats Monday. I also want to do a CrossFit competition sometime this summer, so I guess I finally have to learn how to do double unders….and keep trying for that muscle up.

I want to maintain a weight of 145. I don’t give a shit about having abs, but I don’t want to lose what I worked so hard for either.  I want to balance fun and training and nutrition. There is this shirt I saw online, it says “I want abs…..solutely all the beer.” That’s my motto right now….CWS is almost here…

Besides training for fights, what drives you to keep training?

I just want to be healthy. (And badass, of course). Diabetes runs strong in my family…but so does overeating. Genetics or lifestyle? Maybe both. But that concern that is one big thing that keeps on me focused on keeping my body healthy.  Plus, training just keeps me level headed and relatively stress free. My parents stayed with me for a week prior to my fight. I was pretty cranky due to my lowered calories to make weight and not being able to do all the indulgent things people do on holiday weekends. My mom told me that she noticed how happy I acted and sounded after finishing MURPH. She told me she could tell that I really needed that workout.

Also, I think I am just the type of person that always has to be working toward something. I have multiple certifications for my career. I had to take a lot of tests throughout the years. Once I was done with all of that, I really started to focus on my physical self.

A lot of people have said to me “I don’t know how you do it.” Referring to sticking to a strict nutrition plan to meet me macros every day or also referring to getting up early to train 6 days a week. My response was “I have to.” Of course no one was MAKING me stay on course, but I HAD to if I wanted to reach my goal. Just like we HAVE to go to work every day if we want to make money or just like I had to study to get my degree and certifications. If you have a goal, and you want it bad enough, really there is no other option than to do what it takes to make it happen. You just have to do it.

Are there any more fights on the horizon for you?

I would like to compete in at least one more fight. I am going to lighten up on the strict diet for the month of June probably until after the fourth of July.  If I have the opportunity to fight again sometime in August, I think that would be ideal.

What has been your favorite, most memorable moment at the gym so far?

Hmmm….Probably Shane and Brett brainstorming for weeks about different ridiculous sayings to put on my fight shirt. And the fact that they actually wanted shirts to be made, and that the rest of the gym actually wanted to buy and wear them. The support from this gym both inside during Forged workouts and outside in other aspects of life is amazing.

What’s your favorite cheat meal? I think most people at the gym know the answer to this one…

MMMMM….Tacos. But my favorite sweet would have to be pretty much anything with chocolate and peanut butter in it. I love cheesecake too….yea, chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. I’m going to have to find me some of that.

There was a huge showing from the Forged Fam (in the sweet “Taco Bout It Be About It” shirts) at the fight and it was a TON of fun.

Forged fam

Awesome work, Jess, and another huge CONGRATS from the whole Forged Fam.

We can’t wait for the next fight!