About Debi Purcell
Debi Purcell always gives 200%. Whether she’s fighting, or running fightergirls.com the biggest female fight website on the planet, or designing her own successful apparel line, Purcell’s keen business acumen and innate physical talent shine through. Often referred to as “the pioneer of women’s MMA,” her impact is surely a powerful one.
Purcell grew up in Huntington Beach, CA. From the age of 6-13, she studied gymnastics, competing and excelling against some of the best in her class. Although she had a strong future in the sport, she quit. Becoming a teenager for Purcell brought a lot of rebellion, frustration and anger. A blessing in disguise, it was this negativity that propelled her into the world of martial arts. She could express herself and vent her teen angst. In turn, Purcell learned discipline, structure and focus – essentials to being the best you can be. Her formal introduction to MMA came in 1993 during the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship. Purcell was training alongside some of the first competitors in Huntington Beach. Always determined, Purcell subsidized her costly training by studying and obtaining a license in HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning). To this day, DC’s Mechanical, Inc. (co-owned by Purcell) is a thriving business.
Purcell pursues with perseverance. After making her mark in TkD and earning a black belt, she took her training to a whole other level; a level that was rather rare for women at the time. She found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and legendary trainer Marco Ruas. An “Ultimate Fighting Championships” veteran, Ruas took Purcell under his wing, teaching her the fighting styles of Vale Tudo (Portuguese for “anything goes”). This Brazilian discipline combines the styles of boxing, wrestling, submission grappling, Muay Thai kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu. Learning the technical aspects of the discipline was enough to keep Purcell challenged and coming back for more. From this, Debi “Whiplash” Purcell was born. Her dedication earned her a black belt. “Everything started to make sense in my life,” says Purcell. After winning her first few matches, she convinced the promoter of an all-male MMA event to let her compete. That event was “King of the Cage.” Purcell was the first woman to ever compete in a “King of the Cage” promotion and win. Numerous victories and titles have been following ever since.
Purcell is a strong vocal advocate of women’s MMA and the founder of FighterGirls.com, the largest web site in MMA catering to women in the sport. Although Debi found her place on her all male Brazilian Ruas Vale Tudo team and was honored as being the only female coach for the IFL, Purcell will always seek to establish quality, meaningful competitions for female MMA fighters around the world.
Purcell is active even in her downtime – playing golf, backpacking and scuba diving. She loves to shop and calls herself a ‘clothes freak.’ Her love of fashion prompted her to create Fightergirls Fight Wear, workout clothing for the female martial artist. Women from around the world are fans of her hip, feminine and sporty collection.