Ayriel Steffes interviews Shana Olsen Ayriel Steffes was in attendance for Shana Olsen’s December 11th fight against Kaitlin Young and afterwards had the opportunity to ask her some questions for FighterGirls.
FighterGirls: How long have you been interested in MMA? When did you know that you wanted to be a fighter?
Shana Olsen: I became interested in MMA about a year and a half ago. I had been competing in amateur boxing for almost 2 years and was introduced to MMA from a hometown friend of mine who was a professional MMA fighter. I really love everything I take away from this sport, the skill, the techniques, all of the learning really intrigued me and I loved putting it to practice in the cage. I have always been a fighter. I am a competitive person and doing MMA fuels that fire for me. Nothing like you and one other person in a steel cage to bring out the fight or flight response in a person…and I choose to fight.
FG: Do you still train with Team Bison? Who are your coaches and training partners?
SO: I am training with Minnesota Fight Factory. My head coach is Sergio Cunha. I also work with a conditioning/grappling coach Lonnie Markwell, and a BJJ coach in Shane Dezee. I train with some of the most elite fighters in Minnesota, it is a great group of guys and we really are like a family. I feel like I have a gym full of big brothers.
FG: I’ve read that you are not only a mother, but an ER nurse. How do you find the time to train?
SO: I feel when you have a dream and a goal, you make the time. My life is very hectic, but I can’t imagine it without MMA. I am getting to live out the passions in my life, being a mother, being a nurse, and being a fighter. Nothing better!
FG: Did you train differently for the Kaitlin Young fight?
SO: We watched some videos of her previous fights. I knew that she would use her Muay Thai clinch. I have really worked hard on evolving my game beyond just that of being a striker, so taking her down really was part of our strategy.
FG: Could you walk me through a typical day in the life of Shana Olsen?
SO: Wow, a typical day? Hahaha, what’s that? Well, I am usually up around 5:30am, I get myself and my daughter out the door by 7 to get to the gym for my morning training session. I usually do conditioning and striking in the morning. On days that I work, I return to the gym at around 1pm to do an hour of grappling, then it’s off to work at 3. When I am off, I pick Makalah up around 2, then we head to the gym for training at 4. When I train at night I am usually there until around 8, then I head home to do it all again.
FG: Tell me a little bit about your thoughts during the Kaitlin Young fight…
SO: I try to be a patient, but aggressive fighter. When she got me in the clinch and was throwing her knees, I think they looked worse than they were. I was thinking I can get out of this and it wasn’t really doing any damage. When I took her down the end of the first round, I think it surprised her and her corner, and then when I defended the armbar attempt, I could tell it got to her. For me, it was getting over some nerves and finding out if I was good enough to hang with a tough contender and fighter in Kaitlin. The end of the first round, I wasn’t tired, my conditioning was great. The second round I knew I needed to be the aggressor and I was. I took her down almost right away and kept control on top until the ref stopped the fight.
FG: At the end of your fight, you said that you were ready to fight bigger names. Is there anyone that you would like to fight in the near future?
SO: Well, I think people see me as only 2-0 and think I don’t have enough experience. But I have had over 25 fights including my boxing and Muay Thai fights. I feel I am a top level opponent and a good addition to the 145 lb weight division.
FG: How did you feel about co-headlining the MMA Ironman Tournament? What do you think this means for women in the sport of MMA?
SO: To be the co-headlining fight for the Ironman Tournament was a huge honor. People who were able to watch the fight will tell you that our fight was the fight of the night. As a professional MMA fighter, I just want to show everyone that the women can be just as technical and have fights that are the same caliber as our male counterparts. I think making the rounds 5 minutes was a huge step for women in that direction. The majority of us train with men, we spar with men, and I think we need to be looked at as fighters. I go in that cage and do the same thing that the men do, I put my body, my training to the test.
This was the first fight card in Minnesota to be headlined by a female fight. I want to get more people interested in the MMA world. I want them to see past some of the bad reputation of being a vicious sport and realize that we are all trained, professional athletes. We all work extremely hard to be the best at what we do.
FG: I’m sure that you will be a role model to many women in the sport of MMA. I know I look up to you as a fighter. Is there anything that you would like to say to those women?
SO: I think the biggest thing I want to show women and anyone for that matter is to go after your dreams and goals. Obstacles only get in the way if you let them. My daughter is the most important person in the world to me and I want her to see that if you work hard, commit yourself, and never stop believing in what you can do, you will accomplish it.
I think sometimes it’s hard for people to see women in this sport because of the idea they have of the brutality of this sport. It’s one that has been considered a “man’s sport”. I feel that the women out there doing MMA are some of the strongest women out there because they balance so much. Most of us work outside of training and fighting, and some of us have families. Having to balance all of this to me is a testament to the strength and determination of these women to follow their dreams.
FG: Is there anything else you would like to say?
SO: I want to thank you for doing this interview and for coming and watching my fight! I hope to have more to come in 2010.