Meet Kaitlin Young. One of my favorite boxers of all time is “Irish” Micky Ward. I liked him because win or lose you were going to remember his fight. He was always going to go full speed ahead, all action. He left his heart in the ring. I think that is why Kaitlin Young is one of my favorite MMA fighters. Win of lose, you know you are going to be in a fight. She has all the skill needed to be a top fighter in the sport, and I truly believe she will be. It can be easy to get caught up in how attractive she is, but look past that and you will see a warrior. She works hard to be good, and she’s good because she works hard. Kaitlin has so much to offer the sport, and the sport will be better for it. If you are a hard core fan, you know Kaitlin, if you are a casual fan, get to know her, you will be a fan.
Q: First Kaitlin I want to thank you for taking the time to do this. You are a personal favorite of mine, so this is an honor.
A: Thank You!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself, your family, where you are from, where you train, things like that.
A: I grew up in Circle Pines, Minnesota – I now live in Brooklyn Center, so I can be closer to the gym (Minnesota Martial Arts Academy). I currently live with my boyfriend, Ryan, and our Chihuahua, Tazer.
Q: Before getting into MMA, were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I wasn’t very athletic before the age of 14. I was somewhat of a trouble maker up until that point, when my mom made me pick up an activity of my choosing. Football was my first choice, but she was afraid I would get hurt, so Tae Kwon Do won out. I competed in Olympic Style TKD for about 5 years, got my black belt and decided I would rather do Muay Thai at age 19. Since then I have been training at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy.
Q: What made you decide to start training for MMA?
A: Originally, I had just wanted to take up Thai boxing when I started at our gym. After competing as an amateur in Muay Thai for a couple of years, Greg Nelson suggested that I start training on the ground and take an MMA fight. It was as simple as that.
Q: Was it something you picked up fairly quickly?
A: In some ways. I think I adapted to the faster pace and intensity well. I liked having less rules and padding for sure.
Q: How long had you been training before your first fight, and what made you decide to fight?
A: I think I trained for about 4 months between my last Thai fight and my first MMA fight. I maybe had 5 weeks notice for the actual fight, but I was in the gym all the time anyway, so I was more than ready.
Q: Was actually fighting something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: My friends, siblings and cousins have always been supportive. Most people in the generation before mine have been kind of hit or miss. It depends. It always strikes me as funny when people disapprove, because it is usually followed by some idiotic remark about me “ruining my face”. Don’t worry about the potential for brain damage, injury, or whether or not you achieve your goals – just don’t ruin your face. LOL. I don’t think people think before speaking.
Q: Your first fight was a TKO win over Lindsey Frandrop. What do you remember about the fight? Were you nervous, scared, excited?
A: I don’t remember feeling nervous really. I was excited, and very excited when I realized how much height I had on her. It was the first time I was allowed to clinch with knees to the head (Ammy Thai boxing only allows knees to the midsection) and that was pretty awesome. It was nice to finally get the chance to exercise some of the things I had been training for a long time, but was unable to do in competition before that point.
Q: You also got to fight on national television vs Gina Carano in May 2008. What did it mean to get a big televised fight like that?
A: It was kind of neat, but honestly I didn’t really think about it a whole lot. I had finals two weeks before that fight and was just struggling to keep up with everything. With the additional interviews and media coverage it was kind of stressful actually, because it took so much more time out of the day than a smaller fight would have. I was thankful for the experience though. It was great to be a part of the first card on national television.
Q: Can you give your current record, and which fight is the most special to you?
A: I’m 4-3. I don’t think any one fight stands out as the most special.
Q: What do you feel is your biggest strength and something you want to improve?
A: My greatest strength is probably self-discipline. From a technical standpoint, it is my kicks. The one thing I want to improve most is my record.
Q: What is the best and worst part of the sport?
A: The best part is probably its practical application when needed – the worst is the misconceptions people have about it.
Q: Do you have any favorite fighters to watch?
A: There isn’t any single fighter that is my favorite. I most like to watch my teammates really. They are the only ones I go out of my way to watch. I also really love the 135 and 145 divisions of the WEC – I have not seen a fight that wasn’t awesome yet.
Q: Pound for pound in your opinion, who are the top five women in the sport right now?
A: Well, I don’t think I can answer that one. I think there are those that have “proven” they are top five – and I think there are some that would be top 5 if they had enough fight opportunities. I think that is something that has to be considered when ranking the female fighters. We still have a lot to work out amongst ourselves, and a lot of fights still need to happen to really know where everyone falls.
Q: Same question for men?
A: No particular order…..GSP, Penn, Fedor, Anderson Silva and Torres – yes I know he lost recently, but I think he is one of the best.
Q: Play matchmaker. If you could make any two fights you most want to see, what would they be?
A: Fedor vs Lesnar and Shayna Baszler vs Miesha Tate.
Q: Are you happy the women are getting the five minute rounds?
A: Thrilled. It doesn’t make any sense that they had 3 minute rounds in the first place.
Q: As a female fighter, what did it mean to you to have Gina and Cyborg Main Event a big televised card?
A: It was great – however, I think it had a lot more to do with Gina than anything else. When it starts to become common place for women to headline big shows, I will be a little more excited.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who fight or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I wish people understood that there is just as much variation between female fighters as there is between male fighters. Some are technical, some are not. Some are strong, some are weak. Some are big babies and some are very, very tough. I think people tend to see one or two female fights and think they have seen them all. Just as you wouldn’t judge male fighters based off of one or two experiences – please do not make a judgement on female fighters based off of one or two experiences.
Q: If someone says to you “women shouldn’t’ fight” how do you respond?
A: It depends who is saying it. I can be pretty harsh if you catch me in the wrong mood. The only people who say things like that have an insignificant opinion anyway. It usually comes from the sort of man who doesn’t hardly qualify as a male or a woman who is mostly helpless and can do nothing for herself. I try not to deal with either if I can avoid it. Seriously, why would another person feel like they have any right to an opinion on what you do with your life?
Q: Do you ever see the day there is a major U.S. women only company?
A: I hope not. I think if a women’s only fight company pops up it will end up having different rules than are typically accepted in MMA now. Smackgirl is a good example of this – limited time on the ground, etc. No thank you.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Don’t shave your legs just before rolling and don’t share your shin pads. You are more likely to get staph! Learn how to braid your hair as well.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I am so boring right now. I only work and train for the most part. I like watching documentaries though – to the extent that I would call it a hobby. I’m kind of obsessed with the show “I survived.” on Bio. Um, I like to hang out with friends and I run 5Ks just for the heck of it.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of kaitlin Young?
A: I wake up, go to the gym, train, go to work, train the girls at work, go home, sleep, repeat.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I’ve never had my ears pierced. Gymnastics is my favorite sport to watch.
Q: Favorite actor, movie, TV show, and musician?
A: My favorite actor is probably Ricky Gervais, Movie: I dunno – I don’t have one. I like Boondock Saints, Fight Club, etc., TV show: I survived. Musician: Depends on the mood, but Joss Stone is one of my favorites.
Q: Describe Kaitlin Young in five words.
A: Hungry, Hungry, Hungry, Hungry , Hungry.
Q: Any set plans coming up as far as future fights or anything?
A: I am fighting January 30th in the first round of an 8 woman tournament – at 135! Yay! Its for FCF in Oklahoma.
Q: Any sponsors or website you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: Absolutely. MTX Audio has been such a wonderful and supportive sponsor for me. They have supported me through success and failure, and on big and small shows.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Kaitlin Young the athlete and fighter?
A: I am actively looking for an MMA clothing sponsor. It would be nice to get one that has some ladies’ gear (sports bras, shorts that come smaller than a 30 waist, etc). They can contact me or my manager Nick Thompson. I’m easy to find on facebook:-) or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Kaitlin, again, I am so thankful and honored you agreed to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you for the interview and hosting this blog.
**Kaitlin’s next fight will be January 30th in the 8-woman tournament at FCF 39: Ladies Night
***You can read more from Jason Adams’ blog, “Promoting Real Women – A blog to promote and show respect to women in bodybuilding, fitness, figure, powerlifting, and MMA” at
Kaitlin Young Interview about Gina Carano
I got to speak with Kaitlin Young after a training session, and we discussed her upcoming fight with Gina Carano, her training, and some of the other fighters (and characters) at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy.
Michael Hess: You mentioned that I just caught you after a training session, what is it that you were working on earlier?
Kaitlin Young: I started out with conditioning, short cardio conditioning this morning. And then we did some clinch work, sparring, some ground work, and then weight lifting. So it’s been kind of a long day. (laughs)
MH: Obviously you have a tremendous opportunity in front of you with the upcoming
nationally televised fight with Gina Carano, are you doing anything different with your training for this fight than you have done before?
KY: Not specifically, except I am on a little bit of a different weight training program. This one is specifically designed for power, for strength. And that’s actually kind of winding down now as we get more into the endurance part of it, trying to get ready for the fight. Because I was fighting at 135 before, and now
that I am fighting at 140, I did some heavy lifting as well as some explosiveness, to try to put on good weight. It’s worked pretty well. That’s the only thing that’s different I guess.
MH: What’s the most exciting aspect to you about being featured on the Elite XC /CBS Saturday Night Fights card on May 31st?
KY: I really think that this is going to be a very exciting matchup. I’ve said before that I definitely do not consider myself to be the top female MMA fighter by any means, but I think a matchup between Gina and I will be very exciting. I think it’s the kind of matchup that could get a lot of people who maybe haven’t seen MMA into it, and specifically women’s MMA. If they haven’t been exposed to it I think
it will be a good fight for that arena.
MH: Do you think that because both of you are Muay Thai specialists that this will be a standing fight, or do you plan on taking Carano down and ground and pounding her?
KY: You know, it’s one of those things that, we’ll see how it is in there. I can have my own assumptions of how things are going to go, but there’s always a plan A and a plan B, and we’ll definitely have more than just standing and banging in mind.
I don’t know, it definitely could go to the ground. I’ve been working the ground a lot lately, especially after my last loss being a submission, and from what I hear she’s been doing a lot of jiu-jitsu as well, so there’s a good chance that will be incorporated as well. I guess we’ll just kind of see how it goes.
MH: How did you get started in Muay Thai, and what competitions have you been involved with?
KY: I did Olympic style Tae Kwon Doe as a teenager for a long time, and then I was at a rules meeting for it and they were explaining the rules for Tae Kwon Doe, Olympic style is full contact, so they’re saying “no kicking with anything above the shin,” and I asked what that is about, like “why does it have to be ankles or below?” And they said that they wanted Thai boxers out of the competition. So I
was like “why is everybody so afraid of these Thai boxers?” (laughs) You know, so that inspired me to go and try out Thai boxing once I was old enough to sign the waiver and my mom couldn’t say no. (laughs) So when I was 19 I got involved with amateur Muay Thai, and from there some of our coaches suggested that I start training the ground and do some mixed martial arts and I started that last year.
MH: Let’s go back to your HookNShoot tournament from late 2007, could you tell us
what was going through your mind when you had to fight three times in one night?
KY: I was really very focused on my conditioning for that one, because though we
have a lot of finishes in MMA the possibility of going straight decisions is always there. So I was really like “ooh gosh I hope these end quick.” Fortunately for me they did. Also I’d had my debut in October, and this was right away afterward. I don’t know, it was very exciting, but it was a little bit nerve-racking as far as being like “wow this is really going to be a task for one night.”
MH: Could you please tell us about training at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy?
KY: Yeah it’s so wonderful, I feel so fortunate to be living only twenty minutes away from there, because it’s the first Muay Thai gym, and now MMA gym, that I went and checked out, and they have an expert in everything. It’s so nice, because there’s somebody there that knows a lot about any kind of specialty somebody can have. So there’s always somebody to talk to, and that’s really great as well. Plus right next door they have a strength and conditioning gym, and Scott Ramsdall runs
that. It’s excellent, he’s got me in the best shape of my life, and it’s doing well, we haven’t had a lot of tired fighters since he’s been involved, so it’s pretty good.
MH: Are you also training with Greg Nelson?
KY: Yes. He’s wonderful. He definitely, I don’t want to say harsh, but he expects a lot out of his fighters. And that’s really nice to have somebody pushing you so hard, because he accepts absolutely no excuses for anything. (laughs) So it’s good, I think that’s really necessary to be successful.
MH: Do you get to interact much with the other fighters who train at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy such as Sean Sherk, Nick Thompson, and Brock Lesnar?
KY: Yeah, not as much with Brock because he kind of has his crew of big dudes, and they do their own thing. (laughs) Yeah I was training with Sean and Nick earlier today. They are very helpful as well. Great guys.
MH: Could you tell us about some of the characters, or funny men or women at MMAA?
KY: Well, you know, anybody who knows Thompson knows that he’s got no shame.
(laughs) He’ll walk around nude, or close to it, at the drop of a hat. If you’re in between training sessions and you fall asleep, you’ll wake up with his cup on your head. Like he’ll take his cup and put it on your head while you’re asleep. (laughs) So you always got to watch out for him. It’s a pretty entertaining place. It’s a big gym so there’s a lot of people there.
MH: What do you do during your downtime to relax?
KY: I don’t have a ton of downtime, I’m also in school full-time, so I guess I study in my downtime. Does that count? (laughs)
MH: (laughs) Sure it does!
KY: It’s usually what I’m doing when I have spare time.
MH: Where do you go to school and what is your major?
KY: University of Minnesota. I’m doing Kinesiology, with an exercise physiology
MH: Do you get a chance at all to watch any TV or listen to any music?
KY: I do sometimes. I really like Rob and Big. It cracks me up. I don’t know, have you seen those on MTV2?
MH: Oh yeah.
KY: Oh God I love Rob and Big. And my boyfriend has really been into the Food Network, which is wonderful except it makes you hungry all the time. (laughs) So I guess I watch the Food Network fairly often.
MH: How about music?
KY: I’m kind of into everything. I mean I like Linkin Park a lot. I’ll listen to everything, hip hop, rock, country even, I like some classical. I’m kind of a mixed bag with that. Honestly just whatever is on the playlist at the gym. Linkin Park’s new album, I have been listening to that one a lot.
MH: How does it feel to hear that Tara LaRosa said “I believe Kaitlin Young is the future?”
KY: It’s awesome. It’s very flattering to have acceptance from the woman’s world champ. It’s very cool. And she’s a great person, I really like Tara.
MH: No doubt. That has to feel good coming from her, and she said it after your
HookNShoot tournament with three fights in one night, knocking all of those women out in less than a minute each, it’s got to be flattering to hear that from the champ Tara LaRosa.
KY: Definitely. Definitely. She’s accomplished so much since she’s been in the game so long. Her opinion means an awful lot. For her to have a good opinion of me means an awful lot.
MH: Coming up in the UFC there is a rematch between Matt Serra and Georges St-Pierre, and the reason for that match is because Matt Serra, then the underdog, upset the champion Georges St-Pierre, do you see a similar possibility in this fight where you could upset Gina Carano and really make an impact on the sport and on your perception throughout the female mixed martial arts community?
KY: Yeah! Obviously that is what I see happening. Like I said before I don’t feel that I am at the top, nor is Gina, I think there are a lot of people who are much more well rounded than either one of us have fought yet. I just think that this is going to be a good fight.
MH: Well thank you very much for the time, and I wish you the best of luck on CBS Saturday Night Fights on May 31st.
KY: Thank you so much Michael.