Though a five time world kickboxing champion, an inductee into the Bob Elias Sports Hall of Fame, Woman of the Year from Black Belt Magazine in 1991, and Full Contact Fighter of the Year in 1992, today’s Mixed Martial Art’s Fan may not know of Kathy Long. That is, unless they recognize her from being a color commentator at the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship event or her appearances on “Walker: Texas Ranger”.
Though she retired from active kickboxing competition in 1993 and boxing in 1998, Kathy Long still remains active in the martial arts community. She started her martial arts career when she first took up Aikido and became a master in the art of Kung Fu San Soo. She is an instructor in Muay Thai and Kung Fu San Soo at the Azteca Training Center in Los Angeles. Along with teaching, she is also currently participating in Mixed Martial Arts under Betiss Mansouri and Romie Aram at Millennia MMA, Gokor Chivichyan and “Judo” Gene LeBell at Gym Jones, which is owned by Mark and Lisa Twight (Gym Jones is famous for their condtioning programs, and they were also responsible for the ripped physiques you saw in the movie, “300”. Lisa Twight along with Maria Morales serves as strength conditioning coaches for Kathy. They have designed a program that utilizes circuit training, kettle bells, medicine balls, sprints, core training with gymnastic rings, physio balls and much more to help keep Kathy in peak physical shape.
“Women’s Mixed Martial Arts is constantly growing, getting bigger and stronger with each passing day, and I’d love to be a part of the evolution and growth of the sport” explains Kathy, regarding her recent decision to come out of retirement and move into the realm of MMA.
“I have been fortunate to be able to transition into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu rather seamlessly. My previous training placed emphasis on joint locks and manipulation. I feel that my previous years in active competition has been a tremendous benefit to me as I work to step into the ring or cage for my first MMA match in early 2009”.
When asked if she felt that age plays a factor when transitioning into MMA, Kathy states that though she is reminded daily that she is 44, this reminder is also a key factor in her staying in peak physical shape. “When younger, I would train through the injuries, not really worrying about any of the consequences of training injured, or fatigued. Now, I am more aware of my body, I listen to my body. I still train hard, but I also train smarter than I have in the past. I have also adopted lifestyle changes, such as a vegan style diet, to allow me to remain active and competitive”. Kathy also states that she has adopted better supplementation, core training, and plyometrics into her daily regimen. With her trainers such as Maria Morales focusing on strength conditioning, Kathy has been able to train harder, smarted and relatively injury free.
With the demise of EliteXC, the opportunities for women to break into mainstream MMA has gotten smaller. With the UFC stating publicly that they will not promote female fighters, Kathy strongly believes that this is an opportunity for organizations such as Affliction or Strike Force to capitalize on. “Strike Force has been successful so far in showcasing female fighters on a few of their larger events. If Affliction plays their cards right, they will be able to sign a large pool of the female fighters that may be free agents out on the market”. Kathy also states that there are a few female fighters she would like to step into the cage with. “I would love to have an opportunity, if given, to be able to face such female fighters as Kim Couture and most definitely Gina Carano.”
Kathy also points out other opportunities for females in MMA to get promoted, using such outlets as HDNET’s “Inside MMA” to help get the names of female fighters out to the masses. “HDNET has done an excellent job with their show ‘Inside MMA’, to help showcase otherwise unknown MMA fighters to a larger audience. With time, more female fighters will eventually be showcased, thus helping bring female MMA to a larger audience and hopefully more female bouts on MMA cards”.
Kathy states that Millennia MMA is looking to promote an event in Southern California in early 2009. “The planning is in the early stages now. I plan on being on that card, though my opponent at the moment is not determined. When I find out who, when and where, you (fightergirls.com) will be the first to know!”.