Amanda Buckner

Amanda BucknerBy Debi Purcell There are a handful of women I admire in the world. Amanda Buckner is definitely one of them. Not only is she one of the best and most feared female mma fighters in the world, she has been around since the beginning of Female MMA when the sport had just started to bloom for the girls, and she has plowed through when times were bleak.
Amanda is a pioneer of what women’s mma should be, in that; she goes into to train every day to improve her skills. She is one of very select few female fighters in the world (that list including Jennifer Howe and Erin Toughill who steps up to fight *anyone* that is out there to fight, and lastly every time she steps in that ring or cage she gives it 110 % with her immense skill to back it up. She emanates the opposite of the glitz and glamour of MMA and gleams with what this sport is supposed to be about.
Many times I have spoken with Amanda on the state of women’s mixed martial arts and often she stops herself saying “don’t get me started” Well Amanda I want you to get started. I for one want to hear what you have to say, and sure our readers do also.
Hello Amanda and thank you for taking the time to do this interview for Fighter Girls.
To spare all the details about your favorite color or toy lol I will just get right down to the meat of it.
D: Who was your hardest fight to date, and what women (s) do you have the most respect for ?
A: It’s always so difficult to pick a hardest fight. They all are really hard but in completely different ways. My fight with Jen was the hardest on my body, my face felt broken and I don’t think I could drive for about a week due to a scratched cornea. The fight with Tara was the hardest emotionally because I felt I was doing really well and then to blow it at the end was just heartbreaking. Even a fight that looked “easy” on the surface like the Kedzie fight was difficult. I was very stressed and
nervous before that fight. My training had been thrown off schedule by a trip to Hawaii a week prior to corner Jay and one of our other fighters. I was doing my conditioning in a park and padwork in the parking garage. It made me lack that confidence I like to have from feeling 100% about my conditioning. I think that’s what makes this sport so powerful, the fact that every fight presents you with the opportunity to overcome some sort of challenge.
A lot of people say they respect anybody who gets in the ring. I can’t say I really feel that way. I’ve seen some real dumbasses be able to get themselves in the ring. I’d say I respect any woman that represents themselves in a professional way, that fights and acts in a way that lets you know she realizes she is representing not only herself but all women
fighters every time she gets in the ring. I respect people that have heart both in the ring and in their training.
D: In your last fight you ran into some problems, would you care to share with our readers? Also how do you think you get treated these days compared to say 4 years back with the promoters? Do you think it has
improved or gotten worse?
A: The very short version of what happened in my fight in the Philippines is that I was contracted for 135lbs, my opponent was contracted for 130lbs. I dropped as much weight as I could, which I think was around 8lbs, but this didn’t bring me down to a low enough weight that my opponent and/or her coach was comfortable with the fight. That is obviously the very short version.
D: You own a gym in the Mass correct? Can you tell me about that? How do you balance between training and teaching?
A: Jay and I own a gym in Maine called The Academy. We teach BJJ, submission grappling, Muay Thai, and conditioning. Jay does all the
teaching. I work a lot more with people on a one on one or small group basis. I also handle all the other aspects of running a business. Having the gym has been Jay’s dream for a really long time. It was never something I had even thought about doing so it’s been really crazy to have it take over my whole life. I don’t regret starting it but it’s definitely been a
challenge to try and learn how to run a business and learn to not allow the stress involved in that to overwhelm you. You always hear about those people that start a particular business because it’s something they have a
genuine passion for only to fail pretty quickly because they have no idea how much goes into the actual business aspect of it. That’s pretty much us except for the fact that failing at this is not an option for us. We just keep pushing forword, trying to learn every day. It’s hard to get ahead financially when you actually care about the people you’re taking money from. On the training side it presents challenges for sure. We’ve set our house up so I can do a good chunk of my training at home. I can do all my conditioning and some skill work here if I need to. It’s hard to do serious training at the gym because if something comes up and you’re the owner then the business comes first and the training second. It just requires some
discipline and time management to make sure you’re at your best for your training and also for your students.
D: What kind of training regime are you on?
A: I’ve just started my training cycle for my next fight (April 5th). For the first time in awhile we’re trying something a bit different. We’ve changed up some of the conditioning elements to incorporate more sprint type training and we’ve started playing around with using my heart rate as an important factor in some of the training. I’m a little nervous about it since I’ve become very confident with what I was doing before but at the same time I have complete faith in my coaches. It’s also nice to change things up a bit. I’m also doing some interesting things with my diet based on a book called *The Thrive Diet*. The bulk of my diet consists of almonds, flaxseed, and dates. There’s obviously more to it than that but pretty much everything I eat has that in it.
D: You are married to your coach and are known for having a great team. What do you say to those girls out there that are having a hard time finding a gym or finding proper training? And what is it like having a husband as a coach and teammate?
A: I’d say that if a woman is serious about becoming a competitor than she needs to do whatever it takes to find the right gym. I’m a firm believer that, for a woman, you will not reach your potential without the right gym.
If you’re stuck with a mostly crappy gym and there is just nothing you can do about it sift through every person that trains there until you weed out a couple that have great attitudes, good skill, and a good work ethic and make
these people your training world until you can get to a better situation. There is also a ton of information out there on the internet these days, everything from free technique videos to great conditioning information.
For Jay and I, having this coaching and teammate dynamic has really added a lot to our relationship. I attribute a lot of that to Jay. You wont meet many men like him in the world, that’s for sure.
D: I have been dying to ask you this for years, so here goes. You are a beautiful girl, and I remember years back when you first shaved your head and people were shocked. Is this a statement you are making? Or because you were tired of getting your hair ripped out on the mat everyday in training?
A: I had a shaved head when I started training. I had shaved it about a year or so into living in Boulder, CO. It definitely wasn’t a statement of any kind. I had just always had it in the back of my head that it was something I would like to do someday. At the time I was in such a different environment than I am now, I was surrounded by close friends that were really alternative and I was living in Boulder which, as anyone who has lived there can attest to, is a pretty accepting place. Having a shaved head when I started training was a bad thing for me because It made me so used to not having to worry about my hair while grappling. I’ve tried a couple of times now to start growing my hair back out and I just can’t do it. I’ll be training and it starts driving me crazy so I freak out and cut it again. I’ve pretty much come to accept the fact that I’ll have to wait until I’m done competing. If I was younger maybe I’d take some time off and do it but I don’t really want to do that at this point. I’ve grown my hair out some since the shaved head days but it’s obviously still very short. It’s been a really interesting social experiment to have this kind of hair.
You come to realize what an insane degree something as small as hair can play in society. I wonder all the time if I had it to do over again if I would still shave it. It was great having no hair and is still good having short hair, but some days it’s not worth the price you can pay for it, especially if you’re a female fighter.
D: What do you like to do In your spare time when you are not training or competing.
A: I spend 95% of my waking hours on one of four things: My family, training, our dogs, and running the gym. That’s pretty much my whole life boiled down. In what’s left over I play around with our xbox (which I’m terrible at), read, and think about all the things I’ll do when I actually have time. I’ve always been really into photography and more recently video
editing. I made the decision awhile ago that I’d put that stuff aside to dedicate myself to competing and when that was over I’d focus on the other stuff.
Jay and I are also slowly working towards starting a pitbull rescue/education organization. It’s hard to resist getting yourself spread to thin by doing a million things at once but I never do anything very well when I do that so I try to keep focused on a few things at a time.
D: Name at least one thing most people do not know about you.
A: That I own a pair of one piece flannel red pajamas that have attached feet and a butt
flap (yes, the kind you wore as a kid) and that I love them and wear them all the time.
D: Name at least one thing people think they know about you but is not true.
A: People think I am angry/mean/unapproachable. I’m always flabbergasted when I hear this but I’ve heard it enough times now that I’ve come to realize that I give off that vibe. In reality I’m just an introvert and am lost in my own brain most of the time.
D: OK Amanda Here goes, what do you think is the state of women’s mma today? And what do you think we can do to change it or help it along?
A: I think that the state of womens mma is pretty much crap. I think part of it is the promoters and even though the women in the fight world may hate me for this one, I think part of the problem is the women themselves.
I think promoters still get away with paying the women pretty crappy and marketing them more as a side show than just a regular fight. I think back to an event poster I saw quite awhile ago that had a picture of one of the
women fighters on it, she was in a pair of shorts with no shirt on and a belt covering up her breasts. That’s a case where the promoter was obviously more concerned with promoting the sex angle of the fight rather than the fight itself. It’s also an example of the female fighter being willing to play along. There is no way you can expect that your fight will be taken seriously when this is the photo you send out to be on the poster.
It’s hard for women because they know that if they really sell the sex angle they will feel more acceptance from the mostly male fight community. The downside to this is that it may make people treat you better to your face but it doesn’t make them take you seriously as a fighter which in turn makes them take womens fighting in general less seriously. I think it is possible to still market the cool/sex factor of both male and female without going over the line, but I think that line is being crossed a lot at this point.
People love to say that womens fighting is not marketable and I think this is completely not true. I think this has become an easy answer for people that just don’t like to see women fight. There are all kinds of people that watch mma that have certain weight classes that they hate, weight classes they wish wouldn’t even be shown. I’m one of them, I pretty much refuse to watch heavyweight fights, I just hate it. But whenever you hear this stuff nobody ever talks about realistically getting rid of those weight classes, it’s just considered a preference. But if it’s someone that feels this way about women it’s considered proof that they shouldn’t be fighting. I would love to challenge the UFC to do a legitimate experiment where they start to add high level womens fights to their cards and track the ratings to see the actual effect. I think they would be to afraid to do this because I think
there wouldn’t be the decline everyone loves to scream about and then they’d be faced with having no other excuse for excluding women other than being morons.
On the womens side the younger girls coming up, and even some of the more established girls, need to see the bigger picture and stop fighting for peanuts and accepting ridiculous rules like three minute rounds (for girls just starting out I think shorter rounds are great). Promoters don’t care enough about the womens divisions at this point to take a higher level girl who wants a fair purse over a girl that is not as good but will fight for almost nothing. I’ve had promotions tell me flat out that they weren’t going to use me for a certain show because they had girls that would fight for a less. I’ve had 15 fights and have been at this for six or seven years, always act like a professional athlete, always put on an exciting and skilled fight, and now I’ve got to either not fight or keep accepting smaller and smaller purses? That’s just crazy. It’s almost like we need a womens fight organization or something to establish a set of rules and behavior that will help us all to move foreword, like a union or something. Obviously this isn’t going to happen but you get the drift. The more we’re
not all on the same page, working towards the womens scene getting better for all women, the more all of us will suffer. The problem is that would involve caring about the state of womens fighting as much as you care about your own career and sadly a lot of people have no interest in that.
D: How have you survived the years? And keep plugging along to train. I know it’s not easy, so what motivates you to keep on going?
A: Physically I’m not sure that I have survived. I’m scared to think what I’m going to feel like ten or fifteen years from now when fighting is a distant memory. It seems worth it now but I wonder if it will then when I want to be out doing things but my body hurts all the time. I’ve attempted to combat this by making a big push at therapies like massage, sauna, chiropractic care, etc. I’m also making myself do actual warm ups before training which is excruciating for me.
On the mental side it’s really strange because I’ve kind of reached the goals I had originally set for myself in fighting. But I still feel fired up when I think about an upcoming fight. When I start training for a fight and picturing my opponent and the fight itself I get really amped for the whole thing. I guess when I stop feeling that than I’ll know it’s time to move on and do something else.
D: What is next for you Amanda ?
A: I’m fighting in the next FFF show on April 5th. I’ve been trying to get a fight since my Akano fight (april 07) and have had very little luck. Then within the space of a week I had three offers, two coming in the same day. To make matters worse two of them were on the same day and one was one week later. That was very frustrating. The choice was simple since I had just committed to doing the FFF show and I wasn’t going to back out on that commitment. I just wish they had been spread out a bit so I could have done all three. The good news is that it looks like I might have some steady fights for at least the spring/summer.
D: Please advise our readers who you are a mentor to on what you think they should do if they intent to compete in this sport ?
A: Find a good coach…take yourself and your skill level seriously…..train hard and consistently…..step away from the Big Mac and fries…..read up on sports psychology…….don’t rush.
D: Amanda please use this space to advertise your gym, trainers or any sponsors you’d like to thank,
A: I have a few great sponsors in Sprawl (www.sprawl.tv), Hell on Earth (hellonearthcult.com), and Freeport Integrated Health. My coach, Jay Jack, trainer Stan Skolfield, and my family are the best, without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I also have a great team at The Academy (www.ammaonline.com). Our students are always a strong motivator for me, to represent our gym well, and to hold myself to the same standards I hold them to. And of course, thanks to Deb and Fightergirls for doing the interview.
D: And lastly, Thanks so much for the interview.
Deb

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