Coming off a loss to Katy Collins at RFA 46 last December, flyweight Mandy Polk was looking to rebound strong in 2017, but has yet to have an opportunity to do so, as following the loss, a combination of a gym change and fights falling through cost Polk most of her year.
“I’ve had a ton of fight offers and I accepted one against Miranda Maverick – I was really excited about doing that one – (but I had to pull out because) I had a concussion,” Polk told MMAWeekly.com. “Then I was going to face Maria Rivera for CES in August, but she got injured.
“That gave me time to integrate into my new gym environment and really get comfortable there. I went from a UFC gym to a gym where I have a full-time coach. I’m really just integrating with the gym and my new system.”
While things haven’t been happening as much for her fight career, outside the sport Polk gained some notoriety for using her grappling skills to help stop a robbery earlier this year.
“I wasn’t expecting any notoriety out of it, however, the fact that people feel that I was helpful and it’s worth mentioning, I think is nice,” said Polk. “I think cage fighting helped me with that. I had this clarity when everybody else is panicking.”
Polk (3-3) will finally step back into the cage to take on Mackenzie Dern (3-0) in a main card 125-pound bout at LFA 24 on Friday in Phoenix.
“When I got my purple belt, I got excited about further developing my Jiu-Jitsu, so I was looking for motivation and I saw Mackenzie killing it and winning everything,” Polk said. “When I found out she was transitioning (to MMA) with Legacy, I thought I had to pursue this.”
Technically speaking, Polk believes the combination of her and Dern’s skills make for a very interesting and balanced match-up.
“As far as how we match up, (Dern is) a specialist, but she’s trying to round out in other areas,” said Polk. “I think I bring a really well-rounded game. I think the match-up is somewhat even.
“She’s shown some diversity besides just being a Jiu-Jitsu player. I’m not just a striker, I’m not just a wrestler, I’m not just a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner – so if you add up all the sum of our parts it’s a really interesting match-up in different areas.”
After having a transitional year in 2017, Polk is looking to kick things into high gear across multiple sports in 2018.
“I’m really excited to do wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu and fitness; it’s going to be a whirlwind year,” Polk said. “2015 was a whirlwind year. 2016 and 2017 have been kind of building years, so I’m really excited to have a good year in 2018.”
(Photo courtesy of LFA / Richard Burmaster)