by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
As women’s MMA grows in popularity, what used to be a once in a while competition is now becoming common place on larger shows. Case in point is the most recent episode of the Bodog: St. Petersburg series on Ion.
Whereas previous episodes focused on the men, the last episode featured an entirely female line-up, including in the main event a match-up between currently well-known Julie Kedzie and longtime woman’s MMA standout Amanda Buckner.
Buckner, for those unfamiliar with her, has long been one of female MMA’s toughest and most complete fighters.
Currently entering her fifth year fighting, Amanda spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss the recent BodogFight TV broadcast, her upcoming activities and her thoughts on the state of woman’s MMA.
MMAWeekly: First off Amanda, tell us your thoughts on this past week’s broadcast of BodogFight on the Ion Channel [formerly PAX], where you defeated Julie Kedzie via standing guillotine choke.
Amanda Buckner: The Bodog thing is great; I really enjoyed fighting for them. The fight itself, I couldn’t really ask for much more. Julie’s a tough girl, and I don’t know if we fought again if it would be such a quick fight.
I don’t think it was indicative of her skill level how fast it was, but for me it was great. [Laughs] I was a little unhappy with my stand-up in the beginning of the fight. I wasn’t thrilled about that part, but the rest of it I was pretty happy, the wrestling, groundwork, and it was pretty much over.
MMAWeekly: The fight actually happened a while ago, but showed on TV for the first time last week. What’s it like keeping the results a secret for so long and not be able to talk about the fight?
Amanda Buckner: It’s a little bit strange. It’s hard for us, my husband [MMA fighter] Jay Jack and I own a school, so when we come back we have our whole gym full of students asking about it. It was a lot harder when I lost my first fight in Bodog against Tara LaRossa. Coming back and having to not talk about it, having lost the fight, it was a lot more difficult.
To me, I felt really stupid not being able to say that I lost. [Laughs] Having to say, “I can’t tell, I can’t tell,” that was a lot harder to me, knowing I lost the fight, when I won it was still hard, but I felt less stupid about it. [Laughs]
MMAWeekly: Last week’s Bodog episode focused on female fighters. How does it feel to see a promotion such as Bodog embrace women’s MMA and feature it just as prominently as it does the men’s game?
Amanda Buckner: I’m happy about that, I think it’s something that any woman that’s been serious about this sport for a while has been waiting for and looking for. I hope some of the other promotions kind of pick up steam a little bit.
Bodog is relatively new, but as far as backing, they have solid backing and I think they’ll be around for a while; they’re kind of the only show that is really making a push. They’re not just having one fight here or there, they really seem committed to having the top women [on their shows] and having two or three bouts every time around. So I’m kind of hoping that the other shows that are starting to show interest fallow suit, instead of just one fight here or there.
MMAWeekly: Personally how does it feel, after years of fighting on smaller promotions with little to no coverage, to be able to see your fights on TV or on the web with great availability?
Amanda Buckner: That part is really cool for me, from a family standpoint and for our students. It’s kind of an exciting thing for them, a lot of our students come up and want to know when it’s going to be on, and it was just a cool thing to be able to watch us on TV. If I was a student somewhere and our head instructor was in that kind of situation, I’d think that was cool too.
From that aspect, it’s definitely neat. As far as my family goes, it’s really cool because they get such a kick out of it. [Laughs] That alone makes me happy knowing that they get a kick out of it.
I actually just watched the fight today with my mom. We had recorded it on our DVR, and I showed it to her today and she’s hilarious, she gets so nervous. I was looking over at her and she was like, “I can’t even believe how nervous I am [right now].” She knew the outcome, she knew what happened, but she was still so stressed and worked up. [Laughs] It’s definitely kind of a bizarre experience for her.
MMAWeekly: Having been around women’s MMA for so long, how does it feel that even though women are finally getting their due, it still seems that some of the true veterans aren’t getting the coverage that some of the newer girls are?
Amanda Buckner: Honestly I would love to be one of those people that say, “No, it doesn’t bother me at all, I don’t even think about it,” but when it first started to happen, I was frustrated by it. Not that I feel like I was more deserving than anybody else, but I felt like there are women who have been doing this for a while and it would have been nice to see some of those women involved in some of these shows. Then I kind of had…I wouldn’t call it an epiphany…but I basically realized that I don’t want to feel that way about anybody that gets some kind of good opportunity.
I want to feel happy about that for them. Especially for the women, anything that happens is pretty much a positive thing. If it’s somebody that goes out, puts on a solid show and shows skills, that’s going to be something that moves the women forward, so it doesn’t matter who it is. I’m kind of taking the standpoint now that I’m keeping my head down, working hard, trying to get better, just assuming the fights are going to happen for me, which they do. I’m having good fights now, and that’s all I can ask for.
MMAWeekly: The way a female MMA fighter looks also seem to be playing a role in the promoting of women’s MMA for some promotions, what are your thoughts on that?
Amanda Buckner: For the guys, it’s that it doesn’t matter what they look like, and that’s the big difference. It never comes into play, it’s never discussed, you never see a thread on some forum discussing things like attractiveness [in men's MMA]. It pisses me off if they’re [promotions] using people that don’t have skills. If they’re just in it to make money, like a fly-by-night promotion, and I don’t feel like it’s going to further the sport, that really irritates me.
If it’s a case like the Gina Carano thing, there was a lot of back and forth on that thing, especially on the woman’s side of the scene, but she’s good. She’s new to MMA, but she’s good, has really good striking, and obviously her looks are going to play a factor into a lot of her opportunities, but it really doesn’t matter, because that fight [at EliteXC] moved the woman’s scene forward.
Maybe it’s different for me, because I obviously fall way on the side of “alternative appearance.” [Laughs] I’m never going to be in that mainstream category, but I’m obviously aware of it, fine with it, and chose that. So, for me, maybe it’s different. It’s frustrating to me that appearance is even an aspect that’s talked about in woman’s MMA, because it should have nothing to do with it.
It’s not a fashion show – it’s fighting – they’re totally unrelated, but at the same time, I’m a realist. That’s a fact on society, it doesn’t matter if it’s about fighting or whatever, pretty much anything that involves women in a public way, people are going to bring up appearance. That’s just how it is.
MMAWeekly: Would you like to go to EliteXC and challenge Gina Carano?
Amanda Buckner: Honestly I’d like to fight Gina when she gets a tiny bit more ground experience under her belt. Because I just feel like if I fought her fight now and I happen to catch her in some kind of submission it would kind of be a no-win situation for me.
If that happened, there’d basically just be talk of, “Of course that happened, Amanda’s grappled for years, Gina just started.” I’d rather have it be whoever wins, that’s it’s it, they won. I wouldn’t mind fighting her a little bit down the road. Of course if I got offered the fight, I’m not going to turn it down, but I don’t really chase anybody and I’m not going to make an exception for her or that promotion.
MMAWeekly: Understandable. Before we head out, tell us what’s on the horizon for you, what you have lined up as we approach the mid-way point of 2007.
Amanda Buckner: Right now I’m fighting on the Bodog PPV in April against Hitomi Akano. That’s something I’m really looking forward to, because for me, I have a very close relationship with my family and that’s going the first time they’ll ever get to see me fight in real time. They’re obviously not going to be in Russia, but that’ll be the first time they’ll ever be watching me fight and not know the outcome. That’s a pretty big fight for me, and she’s a top girl, so it’s going to be a great fight.
After that I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing Abu Dhabi and a couple weeks after that I’m supposed to defend my title in Smack Girl [in Japan] against Yoko Takahashi. So that’s what I have booked up right now. I don’t have a long-term thing signed with Bodog, we’re doing it fight-by-fight right now, but they seem content to use me, so I’d like to stay with that promotion as much as possible. They take the best care of me by far of any place I’ve ever fought before, and they’re committed to the women, so I’d like to put a lot of effort and energy into the promotion.
I’m also going to take any other fight opportunities I can, because I don’t know how many fights they can give me, but I don’t want to fight just once or twice a year. I want to do Sven’s [Bean] promotion [Ring of Fire], I think April 28th or something like that, but it’s sandwiched so close in-between everything that I don’t want to commit that fight and maybe get hurt and have to pull out of it, I hate doing that.
I definitely want to make it back out, because even though we don’t still live there [in Colorado], it feels like home, because that’s where I started. Those are my plans right now. I figured it was going to be like a mad rush, it’s going to be really tiring, but as long as I’m healthy, which I usually am, I’ll be good to go.
MMAWeekly: Thanks for taking time out for us Amanda, is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Amanda Buckner: I think the Bodog thing is definitely something to watch. They’re putting together exciting fights on that PPV, so there’s no way you should miss it. I’m always going to go in there and just have an amazing fight, so I think that’s always worth watching.
I always have to thank my husband and coach, Jay Jack, and all the students at our gym, the Academy of Mixed Martial Arts [www.ammaonline.com], they’re real patient when we’re getting ready for fights. I’d like to thank Sprawl, they’ve been with me for quite a while now, LightForce Greens, and Freeport Chiropractic.