Interview with MMA Fighter Jody De Simone

Jodie De Simone

Jody De Simone

Rumble at The Roseland is one of the top, most consistently entertaining Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events in Portland. Every month a packed crowd is treated to a full evening of fights (typically 13-15 bouts). Fighters come in at a wide range of experience levels and fighting styles.

One of the great strengths of Rumble at The Roseland is that it's become a showcase for some of the most young and promising fighters in the area. It gives Portlanders a unique opportunity to see some of the future UFC, WEC or Strikeforce fighters up close and personal as they begin to make their name in the sport.

Jody De Simone is one of these bright and talented fighters on the rise. Her debut in December was an explosive fight that left a strong impression on the crowd and snagged her a cover on the Willamette Week.   De Simone returns to the ring on Saturday June 13th 7pm at The Roseland Theater for Rumble at The Roseland 44.  Expectations are high and her opponent Jana Piper is a tough one.

On Portland interviewed Jody as she prepared for this important fight:

How did you first get started in MMA?

I wanted to fight a long time ago. I was offered a sponsorship for underground fighting years ago but it was too dangerous. Back then they fought until someone got knocked out. The cage fighting that is going on now is much safer. I have been interested in martial arts for a long time. I have pictures at age seven in a ninja outfit. I was using nun-chucks by age eight, I competed with them by age 12. My brother Daryl was the one that brought martial arts into my life. Daryl got a ninja outfit so I had to have one. Daryl used the nun-chucks so I had to learn them. Daryl could use throwing stars and blow dart guns so I had to learn how to. I had to be like him for some reason… he's still my hero.

How did you select the gym that you fight with and what kind of impact does a gym have on how you train and how you fight?

It's funny that you ask this question. Two months ago I wouldn't have had an answer but now I do.I was a member at G.I.RL.S Gym for about six months. I found an add on Craigslist for an all girls gym and contacted Sarah Oriza the coach/owner of the gym. The reason I selected this gym was because Sarah offered me free lessons if I would fight for her. I also did all the marketing, brand identity including the logo and made rash guards (t-shirts) for them. I hate taking something for nothing so I felt like I had to do something in return that's why I did the marketing.

Long story short Sarah and I were two completely different people with way different communication styles and Sarah did some things on her end that were extremely unprofessional so I left G.I.R.L.S Gym (the same week that four other girls left) and went over to Rise Above MMA. I have had to unlearn a ton of bad techniques that I was taught. I have never had such a great coach as I do now! Ron at Rise Above MMA is incredible he has a very unique teaching style. Ron is able to communicate in multiple styles and teach in a way that leaves everyone in the gym understanding what he's doing. If I had done anything different I would have attending multiple gyms before selecting one. If I had done that I would have never picked G.I.R.L.S Gym.

What's been your biggest challenge as a fighter to date?

Well I have had to learn that a lot of people don't understand the fighter lifestyle. I lost a relationship because I was spending a ton of time training. No one seems to understand the not drinking or strict eating lifestyle. My friends complain they don't see me often enough. So my biggest issue is just finding people who understand or support this lifestyle.

photo David Lawrence

photo David Lawrence

How was the experience of your first fight. Walk us through the thoughts and emotions.

Well my right shoulder was hurt and I knew I only had ONE good take down in me, I was nervous about it hurting. I got to weigh-ins and when I got my vitals taken the guy kept commenting on how calm I was for a first time fighter. I always get calm when I should be all amped up… it's strange. I spent the next hour staring across the room at Janna Piper thinking she was Christa Shaffer. I had no idea what Christa looked like so I just assumed Janna was Christa. I mentally prepared myself to fight Janna and then they called Christa's name for wheigh-ins and she wasn't in the room. I was so confused for a second and then after another half hour Christa came in and it took me a second to readjust my thoughts. Then I digested the fact that Christa was a giant and went home to eat some fish and vegetables!

I was calm most of the day then got back to the Roseland for the fight. I didn't really warm up or anything I just sat downstairs and watched everyone prepare. My coach didn't bring any pads or anything for me to warm up with. The hardest part was that is was my first fight so I never knew what to expect next.

When they called my name I had a moment of terror and then it passed. I heard my music playing and my heart started to race. I kept feeling like I had to go the bathroom which must be a nervous thing? Then the moment I had spent so much time being scared about… the cage door closing! I was so nervous of being locked in the cage?

photo: David Lawrence

photo: David Lawrence

The fight started and Christa circled me a bit then threw her first punch it was in slow motion in my mind. I remember thinking throw another one because I'm taking you down. Then she threw the second punch and I took her down and landed in mount. I started punching and she slowly turned (everything was in slow motion in my head). All of a sudden I though she's giving me her back it's OVER! The next moment I remember was reminding myself to get my hooks in then the ref was telling me to let go and it was over. I started jumping up and down and then realized she might be hurt so I was concerned. She got up and it was all over.

The best moment was when I went downstairs and no one was around Christa came up and genuinely told me good fight. It was at that moment the I realized I wanted to be like her… a good sport no matter what happens in the ring. Christa left me with something… a good example it was really motivating.

There are still naysayers (like Matt Lindland) who aren't convinced that women's MMA is equal to the level of Men's MMA.  What do you say to those critics?

Keep watching me!

Do you notice that compared to a male MMA fighter that you have to do things differently because you are a woman, In terms of eating, training, making weight, etc?

The only difference is the monthly friend. When a girl is on her period she can gain five pounds overnight. Gaining weight like that can make weigh-ins kind of tough. Other than that the hardest part is just being taken seriously. Sometimes guys go really easy and I have to say hit me harder. I have a great team around me so I don't have to deal with most of this stuff.

Jody De Simone in Action

Jody De Simone in Action

When you take a bruising after a hard workout or fight, how do you pull yourself together the next day and not look like you were in a brawl?

I don't mind looking like I'm in a brawl. I put my Tussle Fight Gear shirt on… the one that says "I'm not abused I'm an MMA fighter" and I go out feeling proud of myself. As far as the pain I have a great masseuse and fantastic chiropractor. My doctor is amazing too! Like I said I have a great team around me.

What advice would you give to other women who are thinking of possibly fighting in MMA?

I would tell them it's a HUGE time commitment if you want to fight and win. It takes a ton of time and sacrifice. I don't really go out anymore. I'm in bed on Friday and Saturday nights getting ready for the next days workouts. If you have a family make sure that they are willing to support the neglect that they are going to receive. In order to be good you have to be selfish with your time. If you're not working out you're usually tired or sore so you're not 100% for anyone else. I would say get a good strong team around you… you'll need the support.

You do a tremendous amount as a semi-pro fighter to promote yourself, you're on Twitter, Facebook and do meet ups.  What impact has this had on you and your career?

I have met a ton of people who support me and that is an absolute necessity. My fans keep me motivated when my mind is fighting with me. My fight has been the biggest promoter of my career. So long as I point people to my fight I seem to get a positive response. It is so important to do self promotion because women are easily overlooked in MMA. Promotion has really helped me establish myself as a serious female MMA fighter. It has also gotten me a lot of sponsorships! I met the most amazing man through this, he owns Tussle Fight Gear and he and his wife have supported me immensely.

After Saturday's fight at Rumble at The Roseland, what are your plans professionally?  What's the career path for a female fighter?

I want to go pro in the next year. I will fight four to six more fights and then when my coach Ron gives me the go ahead I'll go pro! The career path isn't set in stone for a female MMA fighter. The possibilities are TV shows and an established name in female MMA. I would love to coach at some point as well! I teach fitness boxing at LA Boxing in Hillsboro on Mondays and Fridays so coaching isn't that far fetched.

What's you favorite thing about fighting in MMA?

Punching people in the face and the physical challenges I get to face on a daily basis.

Rumble at The Roseland 44 is on Saturday June 13th 7pm at The Roseland Theater. Tickets can be purchased at TicketsWest.com.

For more information about Jody De Simone and Rumble at The Roseland:

Geoff Kleinman

15 Comments

  1. I have a question, who was your coach/camp when you fought and beat Christa Schaffer in the FCFF? AND, isn't that your only MMA fight?

    If I recall, it was GIRLS gym was it not? . . . With all the "bad technique" wouldn't you have lost the fight if you were not properly trained?

    – Just food for thought. . And a truely professional attitude would be to thank your team and coaches, past and present, and just move on. the MMA community really is not that large and it is always better to leave bridges un-burned ;P

  2. I am the owner of GIRLS gym. The gym Jody trained out of. I am not going to get into all that Jody said.

    However I will say Jody trained with us for 4 weeks prior to her first fight, which we provided a good game plan for and she was able to take out a much more experienced opponent with this gameplan and no prior MMA experience.

    Beyond that she barely came in to train. So whatever "bad technique" she learned was not learned from GIRLS gym. Our coaches have over 13 years experience each and have trained at some of the best gyms in Portland through out that time, Impact and SBG, very technical MMA / BJJ schools.

    Our coaches care about each and every student.

    Her comments were uncalled for and inaccurate. If you are interested in training, check us out before taking the word of an obviously disgruntled former member that barely trained with us. I am surprised she felt compelled to bring GIRLS gym into the picture when her focus should be on her upcoming fight.

    Her great coach, Ron Anderson, claims he instructed at Team Quest which I have been told by coaches at TQ this is untrue. He was the boyfriend of one of our 4 students who left to "do there own thing".

    We are here to be taken serious, to train hard and not just for the glory of being a fighter. I expect the athletes who do want to fight to train as hard as any other fighter, man or woman. Being a girl is NEVER an excuse for not making weight, not training or not fighting well. That is the exact attitude thats holds female fighters back. Athletes at GIRLS gym make weight even on their menstrual cycle.

    If you want to fight, just train or get in shape. We will respect you all equally. Just be ready to train and train hard!

    We welcome anyone to check out GIRLS Gym for free and make your own decision on if GIRLS gym is the place for you. You are more than welcome to discuss our training and professionalism with our current memebers.

  3. I have been with GIRLS for about 5 months now and I would make the decision to join again in a heartbeat. When I started all I was looking for was a way to work out and stay active twice a week so I attended just the kickboxing classes. I came in, did what I could, listened to the feedback and made adjustments each class to get a better workout. Regardless of the fact that I was just there for general health and fitness made no difference to the quality of training or the emphasis on technique. After about two months I decided I wanted more and went from 2x a week to 10+ times per week for kickboxing, grappling, and MMA. I spend a lot of time at GIRLS and it's disappointing to see it misrepresented here. There is so much that could be said, but ultimately what you get out of your training is a direct result of what you put into it and the coaches at GIRLS have done a great job of matching everyone's individual level and goals. I have no concerns with the professionalism or quality of training by the coaches and expect really great things from both the coaches and the the girls that train there. Jody talks in this interview about being a good sport and being motivated by Christa's good attitude but immediately before that shows extremely bad taste in the way she discusses her relationship with GIRLS Gym. The whole situation is unfortunate.

  4. I was stunned at what was said about GIRLS gym. I have been training there for three months with no prior BJJ skills. I have recently started training with a top UFC pro as an adjunct to my regular training (just for more mat time) in preparation for my fight in Las Vegas. He was very surprised I had only been doing this for such a short time, my technical skills were far above what he was expecting. I also have to make the statement that Sarah is by far the most supportive coach I have ever dealt with. Everything she does is for the good of her girls.

  5. So I have a few things to say about this article and the comments Jody made about her training and her coaches.

    I'd like to start by saying that I am a GIRLS Gym member and I absolutely enjoy training under Sarah and Gary Oriza. The first time I heard about GIRLS Gym was from Jody, actually. It was right after her first fight (the one she won) I ran into her at a tattoo shop. She had nothing but great things to say about GIRLS Gym and Sarah. So I went in and checked it out and it really was/ is everything Jody had told me. I’ve been at the gym for 6 months now and my opinion has not changed. Some of the top coaches at very respectable gyms (ALIVE, Quest, IMPACT, SBG) have seen me compete and were impressed by my technical jiu-jitsu stills and thought I had been training for a lot longer than 6 months. It didn’t surprise them that Sarah was my coach and every one of them had nothing but good things to say about her.

    As far as Jody, well in the 6 months I was training I only saw Jody a handful of times and was never impressed with her attitude. She came to training late, left early or didn't show up at all. Then just a few short weeks before her fight she got facial piercings that further hindered her training, who does that right before a fight? At first I thought she had a lot of charisma and was very out going but as time went on I noticed she lacked good sportsmanship and work ethic. And I hope she decides to never enter the cage again because she makes women's MMA look bad.
    The MMA circuit is a small community and everyone knows that Jody is good at marketing herself but in the world of MMA you have to back it with skill which it is clear Jody lacks.

  6. Greetings,

    I have trained with Sarah and her husband Gary Oriza in the past. In fact, working with Gary was my introduction to MMA. I have also trained at Paragon BJJ in Santa Barbara, Megaton/NWMA BJJ in Eugene, Impact JJ, SBGi, The Grand Boxing Gym, and Shamrock Boxing Club in Eugene. I'm currently training at Mata Leao Combat Sports.
    It has been a pleasure to associate with the Orizas since the beginning of my training and they have been encouraging to me as I competed in submission grappling and amateur boxing. They both have technically sound styles and I have used what they have taught me both in practice and competition since then. Sarah Oriza's ability as a teacher is excellent, as evidenced by the results of her girls at Sub League.
    What bad techniques Ms. DeSimone had to unlearn I'm not sure. But, I'm sure, as much of my game is a result of Gary's instruction, that I will have to unlearn them too. Woe is me!

  7. I am now a former member of GIRLS Gym. I am one of 6 women who have left just very recently for unprofessional conduct on behalf of the coaches. Sarah's behavior is very back biting to her team mates on a personal level. United we stand. Divided we fall. Even those who have commented positively on this feed (by her request) has admitted this to me. She will pitt girls against each other during bad mouthing sessions. Ultimately, girls are leaving because of this and Jody was often a target of their bashings. I agree she was given good training before her fight, but even she admits she got lucky. That Christa Schaffer is a great fighter and wasn't expecting Jody to blow her over on a take down right out of the gate. Great strategy thanks in part to Gary and ultimately it was Jodie's heart that won that fight. She doesn't give herself enough credit, but it is her tenacity and aggressive style that I feel has given her a leg up despite lack of training comparatively speaking. She admits she has a lot to learn and that her training is just getting started. Humbly, she told me she's grateful to be athletic and she wishes to continue to grow and learn as a fighter, win or loose, with supportive coaches. Coaches with the maturity level to work for her not against her. Both Gary and Sarah fail to communicate with team members assertively and then behave passive agressive in training with competitive trainees. Jody made the decision to leave the gym, prior to her recent fight, Sara Oriza and Gary Oriza HARRASSED Jody Desimone with disturbing phone calls. They called her terrible names and repeatedly phoned as a psychological tactic to weaken her state of mind and cause her emotional duress. They wanted to make sure she lost even if it meant committing criminal acts. Jody has the phone messages still on record. I stood up for Jody and voiced my concerns having been asked to comment positively on this feed. When I confronted Sarah, this was her response to me and this is pulled directly from my email from her-now accessible to anyone who wishes to view it…
    "Those messages I left for Jody were not annonomous. I thought it was obvious who I was. I said stuff only I would know. I called from my number. I also spoke to her directly and told her exactly what I thought. AND I told everyone what I said. I thought I told you.

    Do you really think I give a fuck? I would have been pissed if she didnt know those messages were from me."..

    Jody had her brother from the military intervene. I on the other hand, would be pressing charges. These disturbing voice mails are still saved on Jody's cell phone.

  8. Monica knows she was communication with my husband at that time. And yes, when people come out and trash you, you respond to them. Especially when they try to defame you. Libel is illegal. Jody never heard anything from me personally. EVen though she unnecessarily brought me into this interview.

    I won't be as immature as to post your e-mail considering yours is very incriminating in the illegal profession you are in.

    If you have any questions as to our professionalism. Talk to former members, current members, and other people in the MMA community, hear what they have to say about us and judge their character. You can come to your own conclusions.

  9. So you are denying your own admission documented on my computer? A nontopical shift to a false accusation regarding the legality of what I do demonstrates guilt and back-peddling. I think that trying to damage my credibility is a good strategy on your end. However, I am not just suggesting, I am encouraging you to take me to court if I am really committing defamation and libel.

  10. OK guys, this isn't the place for you to fight. It's one thing to comment on the article, it's quite another to make it the space for back and forth attacks.

    So if there's anymore back and forth on this I'll close this article for further comments.

  11. @Sarah

    Who said I was ever an instructor at Team Quest??? Its funny that you bring me in to this when ive never said anything about you guys! Real professional!

  12. So yes I'm still alive and tap in once in a while, lol… I was actually checking up on the local girls because I'm ready to train again. To my surprise I find this disapointing bloging. Jodi, please don't let some training and a win go to your head girl. Sarah has been in this game alot longer than you sweety. Let me tell you there are some people not out there for anyone but themselves and male coaches out here are leaches for a female fighter to make a bigger name for themself. Every coach you go to will tell you they can do better than the last and boohoo you have to unlearn everything you had. I bet you one thing Sarah beat all these trainers to the punch on showing you that women can do this.. It's not always the technique a fighter looks for but someone to show them it's about heart first.. Sorry Jodi but I'm sure the trainer you have now is doing something wrong as well. You have to take resposibilty for your lose once you step into a cage, don't forget that cause anything can happen. If you are reading this Sarah, YOU STILL TRAINING?? I'm ready to jam girl. write me jessica.haney@ymail.com

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