A few weeks ago, SWFight started a feature called “New Mexico MMA Throwback Facts” and was geared towards having fun exploring some often unknown facts from around the state’s combat scene so fight fans can enjoy. While it is well-known that the New Mexico fight scene is one of very rich culture, one facet of the culture is very historical. Women’s MMA has some very deep roots in this area and in our second edition of “NMMTF” we are bringing the ladies of New Mexico’s MMA world into light.
Without further ado, the Women of NM MMA Edition:
- There is no question that Kedzie is one of the pioneers of WMMA. Back in 2005 she fought in a eight-woman tournament and after three bouts in one-night, Kedzie became the 2005 HOOKnShoot Champion. If that wasn’t enough, Kedzie fought Gina Carano in what was the first ever Women’s MMA bout televised on a live broadcast which was featured on Showtime on the EliteXC: Destiny fight card.
- Another interesting factoid about Julie Kedzie; she has fought in 5 rematches, in a total of 28-fights she has fought ten matches against the same person.
- The first prominent women to compete on New Mexico soil may very well be Jackson-Winkeljohn’s Michelle Waterson who fought for King of the Cage “Badlands” inside Isleta Casino & Resort against Thricia Poovey. Waterson would win the bout via TKO and five-years later capture the most prestigious WMMA Title when she won the Invicta FC Atomweight Title. That King of the Cage fight card featured UFC fighters Quinn Mulhern and Isaac Vallie-Flagg, as well as Tait Fletcher and Duane “Bang” Ludwig.
- Waterson holds the most prestigious WMMA title in the world as Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, Brenda Gonzales of FIT NHB also holds a major title as the King of the Cage Flyweight Champion.
- While Waterson may have been the first prominent name, FIT NHB’s Torri Lester may be the earliest pioneer of New Mexico WMMA as she competed as an amateur prior to Waterson’s King of the Cage bout. Lester would end her career undefeated (2-0) as a professional with her two wins coming against the same women, Corina Grimm.
- Speaking of FIT NHB, women combat sports heritage runs deep within the walls of the gym. Head Coach Arlene Vaughn is as accomplished as any coach around. Her military background and bouncing days aside, Vaughn was an amateur kickboxing champion in New Mexico and Arizona early in her career. She would add to that list of accolades as Vaughn was a WKA/WKC U.S. Champion and the number one contender for the IKKC/KICK/PKA/PKC Titles, competing in two different weight divisions. If that isn’t enough, she has coached several high profile fighters such as Carlos Condit, Tim Means and Ray Borg as well as premier Women talents Brenda Gonzales and Amber Brown.
- Team Four Corner’s fighter Angela Magana is quietly one of WMMA’s most experienced and successful fighters. She holds notable wins over upcoming Invicta FC headliner Barb Honchak and Jessica Aguilar, while also fighting such top women talents like Jessica Penne and UFC fighter Jessica Eye.
- Holly Holm is arguably the biggest cross-over stare in the history of MMA to come over from boxing, but she was not the only women to find success in both sports. Monica Lovato had an outstanding boxing career with twelve victories and only one defeat before crossing over to MMA. Lovato would rack up eight career fights, winning five and ending three of those via punches.
- Many people are surprised to watch Holly Holm inside the cage using a plethora of kicking attacks as she is often billed (and rightfully so) as a World Champion Boxer. However, prior to her professional boxing career, Holm was the IKF/Ringside 2001 USA National Amateur International Rules Welterweight Champion and has an amateur kickboxing record of 6-0-2. She fought in one professional kickboxing bout in 2002, six months after she made her pro boxing debut; she won that fight by TKO.
- The Singleterry Brothers out in Clovis have been a huge part of WMMA in New Mexico as their Evolution Combat Sports promotion has hosted so many WMMA bouts. Other then Holly Holm, it isn’t often that a women headlines a fight card. Two of their shows had women headliners (Angelica Chavez, Heather Clark) and they even had a show that featured three women bouts atop the card including world-ranked Carla Esparza in the co-main event.
Heather Clark may be the most thankful for Evolution as she has a perfect 3-0 record with the promotion including a 10-second knockout victory to compliment her TKO and submission wins.
- Jackson-Winkeljohn product Tara Larosa once rattled off a 15-fight win streak through the mid-to-late-2000’s that included big wins over TUF’s Shayna Brazler, eventual teammate Julie Kedzie and UFC fighter Alexis Davis.
- The Jackson-Winkeljohn gym is rich in their current roster of WMMA competitors. Norma Ruede Center, Jodie Esquibel and Emily Kagan have a combined professional record of 8-3 and have all fought for Invicta FC.
- FIT NHB’s Amber Brown has made a strong case for becoming New Mexico’s “Fighter of the Year” as well as participating in the year’s “Upset of the Year”. She was 2-1 in 2013 but defeated Kikuyo Ishikawa who had won seven of eight and was considered to be a Top-10 fighter in the World. Brown caught an arm-bar in the final frame of the fight and in doing so shocked the crowd, stunned a ranked fighter in her home country of Japan and announced herself as a force to be reckoned with in the women’s 105-pound Atomweight division.
That’s a wrap fight fans! We hope you enjoy these “throwback” type articles. If you have any to add or if any of them aren’t 100% accurate feel free to share in the comment sections. We are always looking for fan interaction!