Women’s MMA: An Insider’s View
Featuring Jessica Aguilar’s preparation for Bellator 46 – June 25 2011
Some MMA insiders and fans have some strong opinions on women’s MMA, others just do not know that much about this side of the sport and about the top female fighters. We would like share a very behind the scenes look and perspective with you – and feel that Jessica Aguilar’s approach and MMA life will be a real eye opener.
To set the stage here is a bit of background information on Jessica Aguilar:
· Jessica Aguilar is currently a Bellator 115 lb. title contender, 4 time Team USA international Gold medal grappler, a self admitted training workaholic, and simply one of the nicest, most charming and pure source of positive energy you could ever have the pleasure of meeting and knowing in life. Her fighter nick name is truncated from her actual name as many just refer to her as “JAG”
· Team “Jag” rivals anything you would come to expect from any UFC/Strikeforce/Bellator pro fighter and then some!!!!
o Fights out of American Top Team, with training partners that include Rafael Rebello (WEC), Chris Manuel (Bellator, WEC, Sengoku, …..), Mike Brown (WEC & UFC)
§ MMA instructors include Marcos Da Matta – BJJ Coach, Fefe Falkenbach - Muay Thai Coach, Howard Davis Jr. – helped to refine her stand up game, Kami Barzini and Stephanie Murata Wrestling Coaches.
o South Miami Sports Performance (SMSP) center – dedicated to specialized power, speed, endurance training where Jessica is joined by other elite pro fighters from other gyms along with a number of other pro athletes from the MLB, Olympians, collegiate football players preparing for pro careers, and more….
§ Jessica’s lead power & endurance trainers - Juan Carlos Faraldo, CEO & Founder of SMSP and Jesus Gallo - B.S. Exercise Physiology
§ Jessica’s balance, equilibrium, muscular toning, spatial orientation and coordinated eye movement -Gilberto Gonzalez, M.S. Sports Psychology, and Director of Neuromuscular Reaction Program
· Note: In plain speak – Gilbert is responsible for pushing pro athlete’s limits on mind blowing hand eye / reaction speed training balanced with pure power!
o Palm Beach Boxing/ATT - Operated by Wendi & Lou Robin along with Marcos “Parrumpinha” Da Matta with a pure focus on maximization of extreme high levels of MMA fighting skills
o Nutritionist & Manager-These two hats are worn by JAG herself.She is a self-taught nutritionistand devours every bit of information she can find that will enable her to further enhance diet for maximum athletic results. And she reluctantly manages her own Pro MMA career as no truly professional pro manager is willing to invest the time or interest due the menial fight purses available to MMA female fighters. Having said that, Jessica fields a steady stream of potential managers who reach out to her, but has yet to find one with experience and more important anything close to reasonable contractual terms. Hence, these two extremely important jobs are just self handled.
o Sponsors - Jessica’s local business sponsors have been extremely loyal and some have been there for her since day 1- for no other reason other than they believe in her and have been wowed! By everything Jessica has done in life. The national headquarters’ for Boca Tanning franchise operations is South Florida based and happens to be a woman owned business headed by Jen Boronico, who also happens to be an incredible MMA personality, TV / broadcast announcer and color commentator, ring/cage MC, who saw Jessica’s phenomenal potential sooner than anyone else. Another incredible sponsor and friend has been our local OTM Pompano Fight Shop operated by Chris Liuzzo who is always there to help and support. Jessica’s other sponsors are mostly fight to fight or for one time promotional work such as Kimurawear that has featured Jessica with their training gear & MMA clothing line. Jessica is hoping that as her visibility grows that one day soon that long term national sponsor opportunities will come her way and she can do all that she can to promote a sponsor partners.
What does Jessica deal with as a Pro MMA fighter who just happens to be a woman?
· She constantly hears how so many MMA experts question if women’s MMA is the real deal or not??? Not fun stuff to hear, but she understands some of what is said.
· Every day in her own training gym she has to do all she can to prove and earn respect as a pro MMA fighter, clearly more than any of her male counter parts have too. This has just made her stronger, tougher mentally, and thicker skinned – as she well knows that even managers in her own gym do not have the same respect for woman’s MMA as they do for men’s, and as such her top 5 world ranking at this time is simply not enough to earn respect from some gym managers at her own gym! Jessica just smiles, she is too focused on becoming a world champ to worry about anyone that does not think she is deserving of the same respect her male teammates receive, she is just too positive, too mature, and too professional to let any of the negative influences in her own gym get under her skin.
· Jessica’s response to all of this – just work harder, get more focused, find positive individuals to surround yourself with, avoid the negative naysayers who have nothing better to do than to disrespect other’s hard work and self disciple. Basically – just win- and things will take care of themselves. Jessica will be the 1st to tell you, that nothing in life is guaranteed, nothing can be expected, bad things can and do happen to good people, as her personal hardships and tragedies have been far greater than any normal person could probably endure, so when put in perspective, dealing with those few perpetually disrespectful and negative personalities only serve to further fuel her focus and tenacity to become her best! No one ever said that becoming an MMA title holder would be an easy item to accomplish!
An insider’s perspective on “A day in the life” of JAG just to see how one of MMA’s elite female training is all about.
Typical training day
1. South Miami Sports Performance (SMPC)
a. 8am to 9:30AM Juan Carlos Faraldo pushes power training between fights on up to 8+ weeks out from a fight via very tailored & precise power lifting and custom tailored strength conditioning to target specific sets of muscle groups
b. 9:30 to 10:30 AM focus is on long endurance conditioning training targeting the equivalent of ten 5 minute MMA rounds – twice what is needed for a 5 round MMA title fight
c. 10:30 to 11:30 AM – focus is on balance, equilibrium, muscular toning, spatial orientation and coordinated eye movement- pure speed & mental processing reaction time training
Note: as Jessica’s next fight is just weeks away – she is inside of her 8 week to fight time count down, and long endurance & pure power training is replaced with “Explosive Speed” training – as everything is now planned and calculated for Jessica to reach new personal peak conditioning on fight day. All aspects of Jessica’s training, diet, scheduling, etc. are laser focused on nothing but her next fight – there is always a master plan – one that every member of Team “JAG” participates in and contributes too.
2. ATT main gym
a. 12:30 to 2:30pm Pure fight training with her pro MMA male fighter teammates - No holds barred – full speed – as Jessica intentionally opts to train with pro UFC, WEC, Bellator experienced fighters that all on average outweigh her by 30+ pounds – this is all about pushing herself to new limits – it’s all about being self driven to reach new levels of success. In this space, Jessica is blessed with one-on –one teammates that fully respect and support her – this provides for an inner sanctum of focus that helps to block out others that do not respect or believe in her within her own gym environment.
3. Personal time
a. 2:30 to 5PM – Personal time that is usually dedicated to giving private lessons, back fill as an instructor, or any other part time income producing work – Jessica will be the 1st to tell you that you need to accept an oath of poverty to make it as an MMA fighter. Sure a few big names make big bucks, but this is not the case for all others. The single hardest part of being a full time pro MMA fighter is learning to live a lifestyle where training expenses far exceed fight purse income – and basic necessities such as gas money to drive to training sessions and basic food purchases become a monumental challenge to survival. This is where sponsor support can make or break a fighter’s career.
4. Palm Beach Boxing –
a. 6 – 9PM – time to get together with Jessica’s lead coach - Marcos “Parrumpinha” Da Matta’s – where she can focus on skill development, and the creation & implementation of a specific fight plan that “Parrumpinha” has devised for Jessica, the same as he does for all of his other UFC, Bellator, Dream, Sengoku and various other venue fighters.