It was 2007 when an 1-0 Kaitlin Young stepped into her first mma tournament and became the Hook’n’Shoot champion, fighting three women in one night.
Over 13 years later, she hopes to repeat that success in the Professional Fighters League. They announced she will fight fellow InvictaFC vet Cindy Dandois in the regular season opening round May 6th in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which will air live on ESPN.
“I feel I am in the right place in my career for a tournament right now,” Young expressed.
Young is no stranger to tournaments. Besides her Hoon’n’Shoot win, she has competed in two other MMA tournaments in her career. Young told us this one is unique in many ways, especially the round robin opening round matches.
“You got this set of fights and it’s not all just riding on one fight. It takes the pressure off a bit. You can go out have have good performances heading into the playoffs. It’s a cool structure.”
The move to lightweight was strategic for her. While having fought at bantamweight most of her career, she moved to featherweight in her return to MMA in 2018 after a four year hiatus from MMA. It took her a few years to get her body ready for lightweight.
“The PFL had asked me a couple of years ago to be a part of their tournament and at the time I felt 155 was too heavy for me. I had just gone up to 145. I think its important when you go up weight classes you do it slowly.”
Young feels comfortable at the weight and feels it an advantage in terms of her training for the tournament.
“I have always been slightly envious of the guys where there is one ‘eat and train hard division’ at heavyweights and there is not one for the ladies. At 155 I don’t think I will be ridiculously over sized…This is an awesome opportunity to let your body develop the way it wants to and hard training instead of worrying about being lighter.”
“One of the benefits of the weight being higher when you can’t be out (when in a bubble). I like to run outside and I obviously can’t do that.”
The PFL announced they would be putting Covid protocols in place for the opening events, with a bubble similar to other promotions. Young fought for InvictaFC last year, joining Kayla Harrison and Taylor Guardado as the only ones in the PFL women’s tournament to go through the experience.
“The cool thing is while I am handicapped, we are all similarly handicapped,” Young observed. “I think it is harder on extroverted fighters to be honest. I am pretty introverted and I like to isolate before a fight, so I actually kind of love it. I know it is hard for some people being locked away with their thoughts before they fight. For me it is something I really enjoy; being locked up before a fight.”
Currently one of the favorites to win the tournament, Young is excited about testing her skills once again against veteran and rookie talent alike.
“They way I like to say it, fighters bring different puzzles to the table. There is some really fun fights to be had in this tournament. In a tournament type situation the experience in a helpful thing – not just technically but mentally and emotionally.”