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