Friday, July 8, 2011

Sarah McLeod Interview


Q: Can you start out telling how you go into the sport?
A: I was training for a Bikini competition and going to the gym all the time. That was gonna get me to set a goal and work out. I decided that was the next step would be to further challenge myself. Just like how you train for bodybuilding, kind of the same physically demanding workouts that MMA people have to do. So I felt the crossover would be the next challenge for me. I started searching and everyone kept laughing at me so I never joined an MMA gym cause no one wanted to take me n and teach me. I met someone who said "sure I can get you in the cage in 12 days" and I convinced someone I had a black belt in athleticism and was in the cage 12 days later doing my first fight with no experience or training. Just weights and cardio at the gym. So I did my first fight that was and it was a draw but I fell in love with the sport and that's how I got to do it. The first year, 2010, was just sticking to weights and cardio. I was stubborn to start at a gym cause everyone laughed at me when I told them I have the heart and dedication to do it. No one took me seriously and would teach me what I had to learn.

Q: Looking back, do you wish you trained a little more before the first fight?
A: Not really. If I trained a bit more I feel the result would have been different, but its what I needed to do, just get in there and see what I need to learn. I find that every fight is when I find out what to work on and learn. I'm the kind of person that will fight all the time and its better I train now. But now that I look at it.... it's just the way it went. It's hard to answer. It is what it is. But I think the result would have been different had I trained. Its just good to see how far my heart will take me and how much determination I have. The start of my career has built my confidence and shown how much heart and determination I have. If that can take me as far as it has, a lot of training can take me a lot farther.

Q: You just beat Ronda Gale. Did you avhe a game plan for the fight?
A: I took the fight on two weeks notice. I wasn't planning on fighting in June, preparing for my July 30th fight, which I still don't have an opponent. Usually my plan for any opponent is to stand and bang. It doesn't matter what my opponent likes to do. I prefer to stand but I do have a pretty good ground game. But once the bell rings, its just something in me, I like to stand and bang. My plan was to stand but if it went to the ground I had a couple techniques I would try, like getting on top or just stand right back up. But I was planning on standing. The research I did on Ronda is that she liked to stand so I figured it would be a striking match.

Q: Was there a point where you knew you could finish her?
A: Yeah there were a couple times I thought I should have finished her but I find when I fight sometimes emotion gets involved and I back off and kind of start looking at my opponent like "ooohh am I kind of hurting her?" and I back off. That's one thing I was thinking afterwords is that I shouldn't let emotions get involved and continue to be aggressive. That's something I gotta work on, she is trying to beat me up as much as I am trying to beat her up. I think I should have been on top of it more and more aggressive and I would have finished her earlier.

Q: Is it safe to say she fought as you expected?
A: Yeah. I thought she would stand and bang cause she is a striker and tough. I thought that I would be a bit too powerful for her cause my reach is longer and my punches are strong and I have good aim. I was thinking she may shoot in for takedowns, so I was surprised she didn't even look like trying to take me down. Maybe it was just my reach.

Q: You have told em you really respect Ronda. Why is that?
A: When I came to Ohio in December I saw her fight Marcia May, one of her memorable fights. A good brawl. She was just a tough lady and I read your story on her having a family, kids, a full time job and a hard worker. She got into MMA cause people said she cant. I can relate to her. I think a lot of females can relate to her in that people tell us we cant so we are showing we belong in the sport and are capable of challenging ourselves like guys to. So I have been following her fights ever since and any woman who gets in the cage I respect. I admire her for being 35 or 36 and having a family and juggling that all.

Q: You had to come without your team. But had great cornermen in John Hawk and the Rock Hard MMA guys. How much did that help?
A: Its always great to have people in your corner, especially I had a boxer and John who is a striker. They were helpful preparing me for the fight and told me how to strike. I took it last minute so I couldn't arrange for my trainer to come so I had to explain my game to John and Corey and they were experienced. Once you are in the cage its one on one so I can only hope my corners understand my game plan. They were helpful warming me and keeping me calm so I didn't get anxious or excited.

Q: The win put you in the top five for NAAFS ranking and it the title chase. Is that something you think about?
A: Yeah. that's a huge accomplishment to me. Its amazing to me. I was just looking at that. I know NAAFS has a huge women's league, the biggest I know of. Its an honor to be a part of the NAAFS family now and I'm hoping to work up to that title.

Q: How was your first NAAFS fighting experience overall?
A: I thought it was amazing. Everyone I met treated me with respect. The fighters were great, it was a great crowd. I don't have one complaint. Its professionally run and an organization I want to stay with.

Q: Would fighting on Eve of Destruction be a goal?
A: Definitely. I 100 percent want to be on that card.

Q: If you read comments on your fight, people make comments on your looks. Would you rather they focus on your skills?
A: Yeah. With any female fighter, they are admirable. I think the female fighetrs are beautiful just because we take care of ourselves and are fit. I think that in any case, a lot of fighters will get attention on their looks. But I prefer focus on my talent. As I fight more I think the focus will shift to my talents as a fighter.

Q: Nichole told me to ask, how you enjoyed the horror movies?
A: Haha. It was great. I watched horror movies with Nichole the night before the fight to take my mind of food and water for weight cut and I enjoy horror movies haha.

Q: For those who know me and you, did you ever think me and you would have this interview?
A: I always have positive hope for true friends. Always gonna be falling outs in life but I believe in positive energy. Any kind of negative energy is nothing I want to be part of. So I am glad we patched everything up.

Q: Before we finish, you know I love you to death, you are my little sister and so proud of you. Anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: You for doing this interview. Nichole is an admirable woman and great asset to NAAFS. She took great care of me and set me up with her home and everything. It was very comforting. My corners, John and Corey. My gym, Mid-America Martial Arts, they give me all the tools I need. And Endless Possibilities, my strength and conditioning gym.

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