by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of Team Bison)
It’s been 14 months since Kelly Kobold last competed and Saturday night on CBS, she steps into the highest profile fight of her 16-2-1 mixed martial arts career when she takes on Gina “Crush” Carano in EliteXC from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
“I’ve been training very hard for this. I’m really, really excited about the opportunity to get on CBS and showcase some of the skills and what I’ve been working on for the past six years,” Kobold told MMAWeekly.com.
Kobold has been competing professionally as a mixed martial artist since 2002. The veteran, who no one seems to spell her last name correctly, takes on the most recognizable female fighter in the sport. “No one really knows what to call me, and that’s okay,” said the Team Bison trained fighter. “I’m bold, not bald.”
She last fought on Aug. 24, 2007, losing for only the second time in her career to Julie Kedzie in the now defunct Bodog Fight promotion. “I’ve been held up with contract negotiations and with the collapse of Bodog. I’ve been held up and haven’t been able to fight,” explained Kobold. “I’m finally excited to get back in there and do what I love to do.”
When questioned about her opponent, Kobold commented, “I don’t give a (expletive) about Gina Carano. Put it that way. I don’t care. I’ve said this before. This is my chance to go out and shine.
“I’m thankful that Gina’s name has made that possible, made this venue possible. Has made this sport that recognizable for women. I’m thankful for that,” she added. “What makes me one of the toughest opponents she’s had to face so far is I’m not a fan of hers. And I’m not scared of her. I respect her striking, but I’m not in awe…. She’s just another fighter just like I am.”
The bout between Kobold and Carano is scheduled to take place in the EliteXC created 140-pound division, a division that Carano has struggled to make weight for in the past. Questioned about Carano and making weight, Kobold said, “I think it’s important to make weight. It’s a part of your job. And honestly, you don’t have a whole lot of job requirements for this. You get in the cage. You fight. And you make weight. You give a couple of interviews. That’s about it really.
“Not making weight is pretty huge. Weight classes are important. They’re in place for a reason. You need to make weight,” she continued. “Her opponents have always been in a position where, especially with MMA, people kind of fight to make a living. You can’t turn down a fight like that. You can’t turn down a fight if someone can’t make weight, so she can get away with it. It’s shame on the commission for allowing the fight to happen. It’s shame on the promotions for not penalizing her for it, for not making sure it doesn’t happen. And shame on the fighter. It is bad.”
Although critical of Carano not making the weight limit in the past and skeptical if she will for this fight, Kobold’s not concerned about it. “It’s not that it’s a concern. It’s something that’s been brought up. It’s nothing that will keep me from fighting. The fight will go on. I’m a fighter before anything else. I have the mindset that a couple of pounds won’t really matter,” she stated. “Do I think it’s fair or professional? Not really. But I’m definitely not going to judge until she doesn’t possibly make weight. It’s something that I’ll address then.”
Discussing the fight, Kobold said, “I’m grateful for the publicity. It doesn’t matter who is standing across the cage from me. I’m just grateful I have a huge audience to perform in front of. It won’t be my first fight in front of a large audience. I don’t feel there’s going to be any pressure on me about that. I’m looking to go out there and perform to the best of my ability. I’ve not been known for boring fights. And this definitely won’t be one of those boring fights. I’m going to go out there and be an exciting fighter.”
Asked how she sees herself finishing Carano, the Minnesota resident stated, “I really want to cut her. I like that. That would be a perfect way for me to win.”