Interview: Gabby Romero Talks Invicta & EBI 12

(Photo courtesy Scott Hirano/InvictaFC)

One of the biggest female BJJ tournaments will cap off what will be a busy weekend in the women’s divisions of MMA.

On Sunday in Los Angeles and live on UFC Fight Pass, the Eddie Bravo Invitational’s 12 card will be dedicated to the ladies with two standout tournaments with familiar names from MMA and the BJJ community.

(You can see a complete breakdown of the participants here.) 

One in particular you may have recognized from her debut at Invicta. Gabby Romero showed fans an interesting ground game in her decision lost to Miranda Maverick at InvictaFC 24 earlier this month. One of the top competitors in the grappling game, she will make a quick turnaround for the 16 woman EBI women’s tournament this weekend.

We got a chance to talk to Romero about her background and her preps for this historic event.

Wombat Sports: How did you get started in BJJ?

Gabby Romero: I got started in BJJ back in Fort Smith, AR in early 2011 at Omega BJJ. I dropped my son off at Preschool and a girl, Erin Fischer, was dropping her daughter off at the same time and noticed she had a ton of bruises on her face so I asked if she was ok or needed help. She then explained it was from MMA training and what it was and then invited me to a fight the following weekend. I agreed and found out I didn’t like it. But met one of her BJJ coaches that night and he invited me in for a free Women’s class the next day. I went. Took to it naturally and fell in love with it. Never looked back from that day on.

Wombat: Tell us a little about your gym and coaches.

Romero: My main Professor and head coach is Mark Bradford. He currently owns and operates Clube Hollywood BJJ and Legends MMA. He is a Black Belt under Alberto Crane. Mark is a former Program Manager and Head Defensive Tactics / Use of Force / Physical Training Instructor for a federal law enforcement academy and worked as a  law enforcement officer for 18 years. He also trained extensively with Greg Jackson’s of Jackson’s MMA.

I am also under Professor Alberto Crane. A BJJ Black Belt under Vinicius “Draculino” Magelhaes being also the first American promoted to Black Belt under the Gracie Barra banner. Alberto stacked a series of accolades in BJJ and also fought in the UFC.  He currently owns and operates Legacy BJJ.

W.S.: You got in MMA a few years back. What motivated you into making the transition to the fight game?

G.R.: It was just the natural course for me. I reached the top in BJJ and my coach had moved to California so I got kind of stuck for a minute by myself in BJj, and it was right when the Women’s Division opened up in the UFC. Saw an opportunity and decided to just try it. BJJ doesn’t usually offer that much money and obviously MMA does a bit more so at this point in time.

W.S.: You have fought internationally this past year. How has it been for you to go to foreign countries and prepare and win fights?

G.R.: It has been interesting. It’s been hard preparing with having been living in Albuquerque and my coach in California. But seeing the culture and the history as much as I can in my travels and getting to do what I love in the process. Who can complain? The food wasn’t exactly my favorite and the language barrier created a few issues, but we dealt with it. I’d go back anytime and do it again.

W.S.: You took the InvictaFC fight a few before EBI. Was there any worry of injury and how did it help you prepare for both fights?

G.R.: Obviously there is always worry of injury. But with the Invicta fight I knew there was no way I’d get hurt by submission or anything. Maybe some punches, but nothing that would impact me bad for EBI. The training was totally different in terms of both. But I’m always training so didn’t really matter one way or another. I know my game and how to imply it.

W.S.: How was it overall to be a part of an InvictaFC event?

G.R.: It was great. An all female promotion and much more organized than promotions in the past. Created less stress. Can’t wait to get back in there with them again.

W.S.: Your fight with Miranda Maverick showed some innovated BJJ we haven’t seen in a MMA fight. What did you think of the bout and what did you take out of it?

G.R.: I’m not quite sure how to answer that really. I don’t think I necessarily have a normal style in MMA or BJJ. I attack in different ways. I knew I’d have the advantage on the ground by far and think it was pretty clear. But getting her down to the ground proved to be harder than expected. And the armbar I still have no clue how it isn’t broken. But it became obvious after that fight I need to stay at Strawweight. I’m too small for Flyweight. It isn’t an excuse but it’s just where I need to be and makes a big difference. I don’t think it was scored correctly at all. I know I won the first round; second I lost; but third should have been a toss up. I do regret falling for the arm and not just maintaining the back and punching. I will correct that in the future with more ground and pound, wrestling, and standup/footwork. It’s a fight. Anything can happen. And I learned from it.

W.S.: What was it like to get the invite to EBI? Was it something you were looking to compete in?

G.R.: I’ve known since around April that I’d be in it. Of course it was. It’s the first one of its kind. We’re essentially setting the precedent in it for Women later on. It’s the best girls in the world at that weight. I love a challenge and BJJ is where my heart is. So I’m totally looking forward to it.

W.S.: EBI has a different rule set than most BJJ competitions. Have you fought under them before? Have you had to change up your training for the tournament?

G.R.: It does. And I love the rule set. It leaves no questions asked really. Especially with the overtime rules. And not really. Maybe working the back and spiderweb attacks/defenses a bit but that’s it. I don’t want to change my game up a ton cause it just messes with the head and slows my natural transitions down.

W.S.: This is probably the highest profile women’s no-gi tournament we’ve seen. Anyone you would like to face going in? Any opinions on the field and you are looking out for?

G.R.: Obviously the main girls I want to go against cause I want to challenge myself and see where I stand. I know who the main ones to look out for are. But would prefer not to say.

W.S.: How do you think this tournament will impact the women’s BJJ community?

G.R.: It’s just gonna demonstrate that women are just as technical as the men if not more so. And I’m all honesty we’re meaner and attack more I think. We are legit. And it will just grow the Women’s aspect of BJJ so much more and hopefully open a lot of doors not just to us as competitors but to all the girls coming up in the future.

First Half 2017 Pro WMMA Stats by the Numbers

Photo Courtesy Scott Hirano, Invicta FC

It’s been our bi-yearly tradition to compile data from the women’s divisions to show where we are at in terms of expansion, plus current trends and changes.

The past 6 months has seen a shift in some major categories and expansion to other countries continues.

Here are some of the women’s division’s stats for the first half of 2017, ending on June 30. Continue reading First Half 2017 Pro WMMA Stats by the Numbers

InvictaFC 24 Primer

Never say that Invicta doesn’t have back-up plans.

After several lineup changes, InvictaFC’s 24th edition will have a solid set of eight fights, with an international main event and a co-main which will serve as the people’s main event.

UFC vet Milana Dudieva will make her flyweight debut against Italy’s Mara Romero Borella in the main event, while fan favorite Jinh Yu Frey battle decorated police officer Ashley Cummins.

The anticipated bout between Mallory Martin and Tiffany Masters has been scrapped as Martin was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed illness.

Two of the 4 featherweight fighters missed weight as Pam Sorenson (149.6) and Amy Coleman (149.5) will be fined 25% of their purse fr missing the mark.

The complete card will stream on UFC Fight Pass Saturday.

Here is a breakdown plus  the weigh-in results.

(Photos Courtesy Scott Hirano/InvictaFC) Continue reading InvictaFC 24 Primer

Bellator’s Emily Ducote – Home Field Advantage and Perennial Underdog

With the influx of Bellator flyweights, no one has had a bigger jump in popularity than Emily Ducote.

The 5-2 fighter is coming off a win over Katy Collins back in March and will look to continue her run at Bellator 181 in Oklahoma this Friday on Spike TV.

It was suspected Ducote would be face Valerie Letourneau, but Letourneau has an undisclosed injury and is out. Jessica Middleton (2-1) will be stepping in. Continue reading Bellator’s Emily Ducote – Home Field Advantage and Perennial Underdog

IMMAF champ Joanne Doyle’s US Trip Proves Fruitful

Many fighters dream of taking some time off to travel and train at different places. Joanne Doyle and her husband James just took their third annual trip to the United States to do just that.

We caught up with the Doyles in Las Vegas to talk about their travels.

Joanne, the IMMAF European featherweight champion, has been active this year with two wins in 2017 and hoping to keep her undefeated 6-0 record in tact as she faces Louise Hiller September 9th at Almighty FC in Leeds, England. Continue reading IMMAF champ Joanne Doyle’s US Trip Proves Fruitful

Miesha Tate on the Record Part 3 – Future Outside of MMA and Her Message to Fans

This part 3 of a series of interviews with Miesha Tate. You can read Part 1 – Coaching, Commentary, and Charity” here & “Part 2 – Retirement and Rivals” here.

Even in retirement, Miesha Tate has stayed busy.

As we discusses in part 1 of our interview, Tate has one foot still in MMA, hoping to start commentating more often. That isn’t her only focus nowadays, as she wants to expend her growing media empire.

In our last in our series of interviews, we discuss Tate’s life outside of MMA and her message to her fans as she starts a new chapter in her life. Continue reading Miesha Tate on the Record Part 3 – Future Outside of MMA and Her Message to Fans

Video: Jessy Jess Rose Clark & Wimp2Warrior USA Season 1 Cast

The global phenomena has made it to the United States.

Wimp2Warrior brings ordinary people and trains them to be mixed martial artists. The original series started in 2013 with MMA fighter and coach Richie Cranny in his native Australia and has expanded to nearly a dozen countries, with the US jumping on board this year. Continue reading Video: Jessy Jess Rose Clark & Wimp2Warrior USA Season 1 Cast

Miesha Tate On the Record Part 2 – Retirement and Rivals

This part 2 of a series of three interviews with Miesha Tate. You can read “Part 1 – Coaching, Commentary, and Charity” here. “Part 3 – Her Future Outside of MMA and Her Message to the Fans” will be posted on Tuesday July 4th.

It was a shock when Miesha Tate immediately announced her retirement last year after her loss to Raquel Pennington. The former champ had no warning going into the fight she was going to hang up the gloves.

In part two, we ask the question why she retired and cover her Hall of Fame worthy careers, including candid comments about her fieriest rivals. Continue reading Miesha Tate On the Record Part 2 – Retirement and Rivals

InvictaFC President Shannon Knapp Talk Titles and Contenders

With most of the InvictaFC titles in a state if flux, InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp took some time Monday to update us.

  • With Megan Anderson now signed to the UFC, Knapp confirms that the InvictaFC featherweight title has not been vacated. They are still waiting for the dust to settle after the Anderson versus Cyborg match in July.
  • When asked about the Tonya Evinger and Helen Kolesnyk possibly being an interim title match, Knapp state “it’s on the table”.
  • The strawweight title will finally have an owner coming at InvictaFC 25. A date, location, and participants has yet to be announced.
  • The reason the Jinh Yu Frey verse Ashley Cummins fight was booked was because Ayaka Hamasaki has yet to contact Invicta on when she is ready to come back. Even after losing to Livia Souza, Hamasaki has still shown her insistence to stay at 115. Until Hamasaki gives Invicta a definitive thumbs up for the move, the atomweight title will stay around her waste. The Frey versus Cummins match is a title eliminator.

Some other things of note we discussed:

  • The UFC is definitely interested in getting some Invicta talent on their upcoming “Contenders Series”, but have yet to book any.
  • Fans were asking about when and if we would see Daria Ibragimova again in Invicta. Knapp tells us she will be available come the fall. It is not known if she will drop to 135 and stay at 145.
  • Invicta Boxing is taking a little longer than expected, but things are still going smoothly.

July’s EBI 12 Grappling Full Card with Bios

After popular demand, the Eddie Bravo Invitational is giving the females an event of their own.

EBI 12 had been announced months ago with a date of July 30th. They finally released the card with a sixteen woman grappling and a four woman combat jiu-jitsu tournament. The show will take place at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles (get tickets here) or if you can’t make it to L.A., it will be live on UFC Fight Pass. Continue reading July’s EBI 12 Grappling Full Card with Bios

Miesha Tate On the Record Part 1: Coaching, Commentary, and Charity

It was this past November when Miesha Tate suddenly hung up her gloves after losing to Raquel Pennington. One of only two women to hold both the UFC and Strikeforce titles, Tate had a hall of fame worthy 9 year run in MMA.

Seven months after the announcement, I sat down with Tate at one of her favorite restaurants Pot Liquor in Las Vegas for a three part interview.

In the first part of our interview, we discuss what she is doing now in the sport, her receiving the “Inspirational Fighter of the Year” Award from the WMMA Press Association earlier this year and the possibility of a comeback. Continue reading Miesha Tate On the Record Part 1: Coaching, Commentary, and Charity

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