Barb Honchak won the GFight Rising Star Championship at the Hook’n’Shoot 14th Year Anniversary Super Show on May 30th. She didn’t have the easiest of paths. First she fought Lissa Braverman and earned a unanimous decision to get to the finals. Then she submitted Christina Domke in the finals. Both were exciting fights from 3 top amateurs.
Fightergirls: Barb those were awesome fights. Congratulations. Thanks for taking time to talk to fightergirls.com
Barb: Thank you for covering the Hook’n’Shoot event and the opportunity for this interview!
Fightergirls: Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Barb: I have been training MMA for 2 years at Steve Berger’s MMA in St. Louis MO. In addition to training, I stay busy balancing my career as a laboratory manager and my home life with my husband Timm. We are both avid outdoor enthusiasts and in addition to fighting I take part in a slew of activities including kayaking, mountain and road biking, snow boarding and backpacking. I have a simple philosophy on life; I believe we are meant to really experience our lives by testing the limits of our bodies, minds and hearts with reckless disregard to our egos. My life has taken many unexpected turns, none as unexpected as my addiction to fighting. Non-violent and fairly passive by nature, I fell into mixed martial arts by way of Brazilian jiu jitsu and Steve Berger. For my love of the rush and the constant challenge, this sport has taken my life over like nothing I have experienced. I measure my success, both in fighting and in my personal life, by knowing that I live simply for life’s experiences. In that regard, I am already very wealthy and still have much to look forward to.
Fightergirls: What is your favorite part of being a mixed martial artist?
Barb: My favorite part of this sport is testing my limits. I like to find my physical, mental and emotional thresholds and then see how far I can push myself beyond them.
Fightergirls: Women’s MMA seems to be growing in acceptance. There were two women’s fights right before the main event. How do you feel about the current state of FeMMA?
Barb: We are not there yet. There are so many incredible female fighters who are virtually unknown. Like most sports, professional women still do not get the recognition that the men do. Women’s fighting is both intriguing and taboo, so even the people who say we don’t belong in this sport will watch. Because for them, it will be like driving by an accident, they will want to look away but won’t be able to.
Fightergirls: The Lissa Braverman fight went the distance. What was your game plan going into that fight?
Barb: At the last G-fight, where Lissa also attended, I got to show my BJJ skills in my fight and in the grappling tournaments. I expected that I was coming into this tournament marked as a ground fighter. I knew Lissa had a lot of stand up experience and probably anticipated me going for the take down. Because of her experience, I looked at Lissa as the perfect person to test my stand up game with. So, my game plan was to stand with her.
Fightergirls: Christina really fought that triangle for a while. Did you plan on taking her to the ground?
Barb: I was prepared to take my fight against Christina wherever it ended up. I knew she had a great ground game, but I am comfortable there as well. She had very good defense against my triangle, but I got it pretty early in the round and knew I had time to adjust and let her tire out, so I held it.
Fightergirls: Jeff Osborne told the crowd he felt the women in the competition were among the top amateurs in their weight classes. What will best indicate that it is time to step up to the pro ranks?
Barb: We have been talking about going pro a lot lately. I am at a place where we are keeping our eyes open for the right opportunity. My coach would like for me to have 10 amateur fights before moving up, but if a good offer came up, we would certainly consider it.
Fightergirls: Who do you think is the best pro in your weight class today?
Barb: The best pro in my class is Megumi Fuji. She is amazing!
Fightergirls: Do you have another fight lined up yet?
Barb: The next one is on June 27th. I am not sure who it will be against yet or where it will be because there are two different show trying to get me on their card.
Fightergirls: I know that in the fightergirls.com forums someone said they would like to have seen Lauren Feldman get to the finals. How would you feel about fighting her somewhere down the road?
Barb: Lauren looked great at Hook’n’Shoot. One of the promoters mentioned her as a potential fighter for their June 27th card. I would love to take that fight.
Fightergirls: You fought almost a total of 15 minutes that night. How do you feel about the women pros fighting 5 minute rounds like their male counterparts?
Barb: I think woman pros should have 5 minute rounds. The more experienced fighters are more technical and the fight requires more strategy. Fights with 3 minute rounds don’t give the fighters time to feel each other out the way the men do. The fights get rushed and they end up looking less skilled then they really are.
Fightergirls: Thanks again Barb. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Barb: Yes, I have so many people to thank. Thank you to my husband Timm, who helps keep me balanced. My MMA and BJJ coach Steve Berger, thank you for believing in me even when I have doubted myself. I also want to thank Kevin Bozada, Valerie Coolbaugh and Mark Botindry for their contributions to my training. Finally, I want to give my gratitude to my amazing team, especially the guys who look beyond my gender and train with me like any another fighter.
Photograph Courtesy of Elizabeth Winters