RISING STARS: Jessica Bednark

Jessica BednarkName: Jessica Bednark
Record: 5-1 Pro MMA, 0-1 World Combat League, 0-1 Pro Boxing
Weight Class: 135, had my 1st two MMA fights at 145, fought spring 2008 in the WCL at 128
Fights Out of: St. Cloud, MN . There is a boxing gym in town that my boyfriend Jay and I use as a facility to train in. My boyfriend Jay has solid
wrestling skills (placed in State twice in high school in Minnesota) and has been kickboxing for about 5 years. He is 5’4, 140 lbs, so he is the same weight as me. I thought I had a harder work ethic than anyone I trained with until I met Jay. He pushes me hard every day, wearing me out and expecting me to not slow my pace or get sloppy. He is the best training partner I’ve ever had because he has such high expectations and is very impatient if I don’t meet them very quickly. Unlike a lot of guys, he seems oblivious to me being a girl and will hit me hard when we spar and be very rough when we wrestle and practice jiu-jitsu. There is nowhere to learn MMA in St. Cloud. When we have money (we’re catching up from being on disability) we drive a little over an hour to the cities (area) to train at Northway Gym (former UFC champ Dave Menne’s gym).
How did you get into fighting: I started karate at 13 years old. Despite it being American sport karate (point fighting) when we were not competing, we sparred with heavy contact at my karate school. I did well when I competed in point sparring, but I always thought that I would do better in full contact fighting (where there isn’t a break every time a kick or punch is landed) because I can take and deliver hard strikes. I didn’t even know what MMA was
until I was 18. When I was 19, I took my 1st MMA fight and won by rear naked choke
in the 3rd round. A week later, I got ejected from a car, breaking my back (in addition to 4 bulging discs in my back) and tearing my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I was on bed rest for a few months. I could not go back to work or training for almost a year. During my recovery, I decided that when I got better I was going to train for MMA and fight. In the spring of 2007, I started going back to the gym. My back was too messed up at first to kick, but I boxed for a few months and slowly rehabilitated myself into being able to do everything again. About 2 months after I had been back in the gym, my 1 training partner – my boyfriend Jay – tore his ACL wrestling. What he was told was going to be a 3 week recovery turned into a 6 month recovery after he had surgery. Money was tight trying to catch up on bills from being on disability for so long, and now my boyfriend was making less than half of his usual
paychecks. We were strapped for money, and I didn’t think I was ready to fight (cause my ground game was non-existent), but I took a fight anyway. The girl I fought was 3-0 amateur and 3-0 pro. I knocked her out cold in the 3rd round. It didn’t pay much, but it made the car payment that month and lifted our spirits. I kept fighting and kept winning, despite feeling that I wasn’t getting the training I needed. So here I am now, busting my ass every day, trying to absorb what I can with anyone who will teach me, sparring with whoever walks in the gym every day, just trying to be faster and stronger and in better cardio shape than the next girl I fight.

You mentioned fighting for Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, what was that experience like: I fought on the Miami Force team. Al Wichers, one of the refs for the WCL, refereed my second MMA fight in Wisconsin. I knocked the chick I fought out cold in the 3rd round and after the fight he told me I should fight for the WCL. This was September 2007 and the season for WCL started in about a month. I had just cut weight for the 1st time (only 7lbs) to make
145. When he told me that I had to weigh in at 128 to fight, I didn’t think I could make it – I hadn’t been below 140 in years. My next fight (5 months later) was at 135. I cut from 150 again and weighed in at 133 and felt great during the fight. I figured, what’s another 5 pounds, I can do that, so I called up Al and told him I wanted to fight for WCL the next season. He told me there was a girl that was injured on one team and they needed someone to fill her spot for the playoffs. A month later, I started for the Miami team in the playoffs. We fought the New York team. I fought Jennifer Santiago, who is ranked higher than any other chick in the WCL. Her back round is karate and boxing. She fights like a point fighter, a very good one. She likes to keep the distance and then come in and tag her opponents with a few quick strikes. She hates fighting in close. Every time I closed the distance, she fell on her butt (3 times in our 3 minute fight) and they’d just call it a slip and separate us. It kind of irritated me. We had an alright fight, it was close. We each landed a few good shots, but we blocked most of each other’s strikes. She got the win and I think she deserved it. I felt like I moved really slowly during that fight. The weight cut was rougher than I expected. I cut from 142 to 126
(weighed in 2lbs under) in 4 days. I had trouble regaining my strength and keeping food down after that fight. This experience caused me to start dieting and eating better, and since that fight, I haven’t cut (meaning starving and dehydrating/sweating) more than 5 pounds for any fight. I would like to do WCL again, but I need to take some time and get used to maintaining a much lower weight. I like taking kickboxing and boxing matches because I think it makes my MMA fighting better, but I never care to have a big career as a kickboxer or boxer. It was great to be able to fight in the World Combat League, but MMA is my focus. I take a lot of pride in my MMA fighting, because I feel like it is more physically and mentally demanding than other kinds of fighting. Oh, back to the WCL- our team lost, so we were done for the season.
Toughest opponent to date: Nana Berto, because she’s the only person I’ve lost too. She is a very strong girl and she is aggressive on the feet and has very technical jiu-jitsu. I got choked in the 1st round. I don’t feel like I fought very well that fight – I wasn’t mentally focused – but regardless, she whooped my ass.
Who would you most like to fight: I really don’t care. I’m not looking to go after any big names yet, I don’t feel like I’m at that level yet. Right now I am really focused on getting consistent training from Dave Menne’s gym and getting more experience. It was looking like I was going to fight Tonya Evinger a month ago, but that fell through. I expect we’ll probably fight sometime in 2009. Kaitlin Young is right in Minnesota and I think we would put on a really entertaining fight if we fought. The problem is, I’ve yet to meet a promoter in Minnesota that pays decent – for MMA that is. Katlin Young and I were lined up to fight what would have been my second fight, but she withdrew to do the show that landed her a fight on Elite XC. I don’t expect to get a fight with her any time soon. She goes to a gym that has a lot of recognition and I don’t, so unless it’s a big show I doubt we’ll be fighting each other. My boyfriend wants me to get a fight with Sara Schnieder.
Next fight: I think I have a boxing match in January, but it hasn’t been finalized yet. The next MMA fight I will have I believe will be January 31st for Combat USA. They put on really good shows and I really like the promoter. I think I will be fighting Karen Williams a second time. On Sept 29th, 2008, I TKOed her in 1 min 58 seconds into the 1st round. She didn’t do a damn thing in those 2 minutes to deserve a rematch. I came out, threw a few kicks and punches, landed every single one, she rushed in, took me down and threw a few little punches to my face that did no damage, immediately I turned her, got on top of her and dropped punches and elbows to her face for the next 1 ½ minutes. I landed 4 elbows to her face in a row right before the ref stepped in and stopped it. She was tough, she was trying to fight out of it, but I don’t think she has the skills to take me. I don’t think she deserves a rematch. I don’t think she has anything for me and I think I’m going to manhandle her a second time in our next fight. The reason they think she deserves a rematch is because the fight was for a belt, so it was 12 – 2 minute rounds (the promoter thinks it’s more entertaining with the shorter rounds). So the ref stopped it 2 seconds before the end of the round, and a lot of people would have
liked to see a second round. Plus, the fights are in Wisconsin, she’s from Wisconsin and undefeated (until then) and some people from Wisconsin think she’s tough just because they’ve seen her knock a couple chicks out. Doesn’t matter, our re-match won’t last long either.
Training Regimen: I spar 5 to 6 days a week, primarily with my boyfriend, but with whoever is willing to spar – kickboxers, boxers, mixed martial artists, tae kwon do dudes, ect. We spar 5 min rounds, 15 second rest for over an hour– no breaks. I also roll about 3 days a week. 3 to 4 days a week I hit bags with heavy gloves and sometimes weights on my ankles to work endurance, technique and speed. In the mornings before school I run at least 5 miles
(slowly increasing the miles). I lifted weights through most of my teenage years, but quit when I broke my back. I just resumed weightlifting this week, but haven’t come up with a real set plan for how I’m going to go about it, but I will keep it up because I feel like I’m getting old and losing my strength now that I just turned 22.
Other Hobbies/etc: I am going to school with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant. I started out going for art, but changed my major because I don’t want to struggle so much to make money. I love to paint and draw, but rarely have time to do it. I live with my boyfriend who is a single father. I’ve been helping him raise his son since he was 17 months old and now he is 4. Not really a hobby, but very time consuming, but worth it. He is a great kid and comes to the gym with us while we train every day. They haven’t nailed down what he has yet, but it’s some form of asbergers – but he’s very high functioning. He has speech, physical and occupational therapy twice a week and goes to a special preschool 3 times a week to get him ready for regular preschool, so taking turns running him around to his appointments is a very big part of my life as well. Other than that I just like hanging out with my boys and seeing my family whenever I can.
Goal for 2009: Arrange my finances so that I can train at Dave Menne’s gym a few times every week. Also, I’d like to maintain a lower weight. I have been weighing about 142, fighting at 135 and I want to maintain 130, taking fights at 125 and 135.
Anything you want to add: It’s not on this website, but my pro record is 5-1 (my first fight was never reported and I’m sure it never will be – it was almost 3 years ago). But the fight I’m talking about is when I fought Karen Williams on Sept 29, 2008. I’m not sure if this is accurate (you guys would probably know better than anybody), but the promoter said that this fight was the 1st women’s MMA main event on a card where all the other fights on the card were guy fights. It was for a belt that was vacant prior to that.

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