Michele Gutierrez is a fighter you might not know a lot about.
But if she has it her way, that’s about to change.
Fueled by a bittersweet mix of triumph and hardship, Gutierrez is poised to take the world of women’s MMA by storm.
Growing up, the Las Vegas native cites that she was always actively involved in athletics and was a cheerleader all through high school. Once she entered college, however, she lost herself in the party scene and soon realized she needed to find something to get herself “cleaned up”.
It was a local boxing gym that provided her with the antidote she needed.
Unfazed by the idea of getting hit, Gutierrez soon found herself in the ring, and acquired a respectable amateur boxing record of 7-3 over four years. Like so many other combat sport athletes, her family did not wholly approve of her newfound love of boxing, but supported her nevertheless, knowing that fighting was her way of keeping straight.
Just as she and her trainers decided the time was right to make the jump to professional, life got in the way, and the newly-married Gutierrez found out she was pregnant with her daughter.
Undaunted, she trained up until the birth, took six weeks off, and came back to make her pro debut, which she won against a tough and more experienced fighter. After that, she claimed a second victory, but the celebration was short-lived. As her professional career began to take off, Michele’s personal life suddenly fell apart when she was hit with the crushing blows of both a divorce and the tragic loss of her mother to a 10-year battle with cancer, all within the same year.
It was during this adverse time that Michele sought a new outlet in MMA and found herself training at Wanderlei Silva’s gym in Las Vegas. Like so many other women, she’s one of the very few females training at her gym, and offers this advice to up-and-coming fighters who find themselves in the same situation: “Train hard. Be skilled in all aspects of the sport. When you are the only girl in class and you feel uncomfortable, use that to fuel you, and come back harder the next day.”
After just two short months at Silva’s gym, her first professional MMA bout was against the infamous Felice Herrig, which, after a first-round war, Gutierrez lost via armbar in the second.
It was her second fight, however, that Gutierrez claims was her most memorable. With her family present to support and watch her take on Amy Stacey in her hometown, Gutierrez pounded out a quick, 17-second TKO victory in the first round.
“The most rewarding part of fighting is the feeling you get when the cage door shuts. It’s you alone, fending for yourself, kind of like taking care of yourself in the worst conditions,” she states. “It’s unlike anything else.”
With hard times behind her, Michele is looking forward to the future, working hard to make an impact in the world of mixed martial arts.
“My goal in MMA is to break the mold. To be girly, but tough; a striker and a submission artist; a class act that gets along with everyone and avoids the catty call outs.”
Family also continues to be another inspirational factor in her MMA career. “I want to be successful at this sport to make my daughter proud. I want her to see that a girl can do anything they want; even fight for a living. And I want to make a name for myself so that I know my mother would have been proud as well.”
Who is Michele Gutierrez?
Keep an eye on her. You’re about to find out.