No one, for sure, can say what motivates a man or woman to fight in a mixed martial arts event, it could be to gain experience, fame, attention, or an innate love for the sport. Nobody can say what motivates the promoter to put on a show or choose certain fighters, whether it is revenue, creating opportunities for fighters to get experience in the sport, donating proceeds to a favorite cause; and no one can say for sure what motivates a fan to buy a ticket to go and watch a show, we can only speculate!
But I do know what motivated me to go and watch the AFO Fights (American Fight Organization) this past weekend in Randolph MA as opposed to seeing WCF Fights (World Championship Fighting) that featured Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn fight the same night. It was a chance to see woman fighting in New England on a local venue. All week long when I heard the card I was eager to see what these girls had to bring to MMA in an area where it is next to impossible for a female fighter with any talent to find an opponent, as there was little or no information about the girls on the AFO card. Who were they, what was their training, what schools were they fighting out of, were they any good? Was there any note worthy talent going to be represented in female mixed martial arts? That was what I was going to find out.
The night was ripe with anticipation, a full house! With 23 amateur fights on the card, fighters were getting ready with their trainers in cramped suites. I made my way into the blue corner room looking for flyweight Katie Merrill warming up. She was tough to spot because she blended in so well with the men, but once I caught eyes with her a glint of femininity shined through that masculine exterior she presented. She’s been training with Wai Kru out of Brighton MA for about 2 years. Her opponent Koreena Goslin, only 18 years said she had years of experience kick boxing and a year of ground work. Her coaches from LA Boxing in North Attleboro were giving her instruction on how to deal with Katie who is a south paw. But that did little or nothing as their fight went for 41 secs with a referee stoppage in the first round. Katie took Koreena down, mounted her and proceeded to ground and pound. End of fight!
Ok, so off to look for the next two girls, back in the blue room where I immediately spotted an amazon! Treyah Zelee, a track and field athlete was buff and looked like a power house, weighing in at 145lbs fighting out of the Doomsday camp with only 4 to 5 months Muay Thai and MMA experience. She was paired up with Neree Harrington who was fighting out of LA Boxing with 2 years boxing experience. Treyah towered over Neree and hit her with a fierce punch knocking her to her knees in the 1st few seconds of the 1st round. Neree recovered and got back to her feet only to be knocked out again with more wild punches by Treyah who won by TKO with what appeared to be a right hook. I didn’t even get the time on this fight, it was over so fast!
So what does that say about women’s MMA in New England? Did my questions get answered? Yes and no. Yes there was one who was able to show her talent and yes these girls have potential, but are they in it for the long haul? What was completely apparent is we still have a ways to go! On the bright side, it was great to see woman included and competing in a local event gaining fight experience. It was also, to these girls credit to make weight, show up and have the courage to get in the cage, win or lose for what ever their reasons may be. I hope that they will train harder to fight again because each one in their own way is paving the road for all the girls out there, that are looking to compete, to have opportunities given by the promoters who stick their necks out to provide those opportunities!
About the writer: Shelley Devine trains and teaches at the famous Sityodtong camp in Somerville MA