Friday, January 28, 2011

Shawnee Merrell Interview

Every once in awhile I refer to someone as "stuck with me". What that means is they impress me so much, I will go over and above to promote them. Not always what kind of fighter they are or competitor they are. But what kind of person they are. Shawnee is an incredible person, who also happens to be a talented fighter. On January 8th she fought and lsot to Liz McCarthy. She got caught in an armbar. Happens to everyone. But Liz is a talented fighter with huge potential, just like Shawnee. But the mark of a great fighter is learning from mistakes and to adapt. Shawnee learned from this, and will learn from each fight, win or lose. I implore fringe fans who may not know about a lot of fighters to find out more about Shawnee Merrell.

Q: First, Shawnee I want to thank you for taking the time to do another interview.
A: Thank you for having me do one. The last one was so much fun I couldn’t resist doing another

Q: For those who missed your first interview can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Of course, I’m twenty years old, and a full time student at Western Wyoming Community College. I’m the middle between two boys. I moved around a lot as a kid. But I was born in Payson Utah, then moved to good ol’ Wyoming and have been here for the past eighteen years. I’ve been fighting for about two years now, and I’m the only female on an all guys team, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: OK, let's talk about your recent fight on January 8th vs Liz McCarthy. You lost by armbar. Before we talka bout the fight. let's talk about leading up to it. How did you feel about the fight leading up to it?
A: Leading up to the fight was almost a train wreck. Training was hard, the cardio workouts I did were something I wasn’t physically used to so it took a lot out of me at the beginning. But father into the camp I seen great improvement. I was lucky to have Ty backing me all the way through training.

Q: Was their a specific game plan at all and were you able to implement it? Why or why not?
A: A specific game plan is understatement. We had a plan set up that I was not to stray from. I was supposed to stand with Liz and make her kick and box with me, because we knew my stand up would hurt her. If the fight ended up on the ground I was supposed to stand up and make her get back up. At the beginning of the fight things were great. I came out unbelievably aggressive, I brought the fight right to Liz. I turned my back into the cage because I’m to work a better take down defense from there. Unfortunately, Liz got her take down, but I transitioned just in time. Then when we hit the ground I realized I had half mount and got over zealous and decided I wanted to ground and pound that was a bad idea. I heard my corner yell at me to stand up and as I did so I ended up leaving my right arm out which Liz transitioned like a Gracie and caught me in a ridiculously tight arm bar. All in all, I had a game plan, and tried to stick to it, but own needs got in the way of winning that fight.

Q: What did you know about Liz as far as her style and what her strengths are?
A: First off, I want to say that during my workouts all I did was watch Liz’s previous fights on youtube for hours on my phone, as did my coach. I realized that Liz loved head kicks. She set them up with a one two combo and would through it. She had quick stand up, and loved to back her opponents up so she could throw her combo’s. Then I saw that she had a few grappling video’s on there as well, and saw that she is very good on the ground, and most of her wins were by way of flying arm bar and flying triangle. That I reported back to the coaches and we worked on staying out of them, and not setting myself up to get caught in one.

Q: Did she do anything that surprised you at all?
A: During the fight no. I knew that the minute I hit the ground with her she would be transitioning for a submission or something to that extent. After the fight and before the fight however she did surprise me. She was a huge sweetheart! I almost couldn’t see her as a fighter, at least not an aggressive one.

Q: As mentioned she got you in an armbar. How was she able to do that?
A: When we went to the ground the moment we hit she was already transitioning for a submission, while I was getting impatient and trying to ground and pound. My coach yelled for me to stand up, and as I did so she had her guard pulled on me, and I left my right arm out and she got it. I tried to stand up and slam her rather than fall into her and as I stood both hand were being used for the slam, and she popped her hips just in time and I tapped.

Q: Is there anything you can learn from this fight?
A: There is a lot I can learn from this fight. I realize now, that just because I don’t like the ground game, I need to perfect it to become a great fighter. I did however learn that my stand up needs work as well. I smothered my punches in this fight. I need to learn distance for sure.

Q: If you were to fight her again, what would you want to do differently?
A: First off, I’d love to fight Liz again. It doesn’t even need to be for the belt. I just know I can do better then what I did. But I would definitely train my ground game a lot more and a lot harder should she get the take down again. I would also work on my stand up as well, so that I’m not always rushing in and smothering my punches by not having enough distance.

Q: What did you think of her over all as a fighter?
A: Liz is a good fighter. She’s going to go somewhere in this sport. And I personally wish her the best of luck in it. She’s also a great person all around. She’s a sweetheart, like I said I was really taken aback by how nice she was.

Q: What did you think of the Budo Fights people?
A: Well, to be honest with you of all the budo fights people, the only one that Ty and I ever dealt with was Darrick Bruyn, the match maker. Darrick was a great guy. We drove fourteen hours to get to Oregon and hit town about 4 a.m. and he opened his home for us to stay until we were able to get into the hotel. The promotion was a great set up. Everything ran very smoothly. I really enjoyed the fact that budo fights livestreamed the fight on the internet. My families in Wyoming and in Utah were able to watch the fight, as well as my friend in Germany. Granted it was a little late, but he was happy to get to see me fight.

Q: How long after a fight do you like to take off before getting back into training hard?
A: It so hard for me to find fights, so usually it’s a long time span before I start to train hard. This time I was hoping to take about a week off and start back up but after being hit with such a hard arm bar, I need time to recover from that. So as soon as I’m able to stop wearing an elbow brace and throw a punch without hurting my elbow I’ll start training hard again.

Q: This was 105lb title ammateur title fight. How many more fights would you like before turning pro?
A: I personally don’t know. Between having a job and going to school full time, fighting usually takes a back seat. But as I said before my stubbornness gets in the way. I want to have a winning record as an amateur, and a few more fights at 105 under my belt before going pro at 105. My fight against Liz was my first ever fight at 105. But all in all, it will be a while until I go pro. Being a good professional fighter requires a lot of time and dedication, and with school, I don’t have the time for it.

Q: Is 105 a comfortable weight for you or do you ever think you may move up in weight?
A: I’ve had six fights, and all but the one with Liz were above 105. So moving up in weight isn’t really an option just because I’m so small. It would however, be easier to find fights for sure. Honestly though, 105 is a very comfortable weight for me. Anything higher I’m out of my element, but anything lower I’d look like a monster at 100lbs or lower.

Q: How important is support from family and friends when getting ready to fight?
A: I would have to say it’s pretty important. I love having family and friends back in me fighting. However, I would like them all to have a little more understanding about cutting weight and what it’s like for someone like me, who by far has the worst eating habits on the planet. I love Dr. pepper and cheeseburgers.

Q: I often ask what is the biggest misconception people have about female fighters. This time I will ask, what is the biggest misconception people have about Shawnee Merrell?
A: I honestly don’t have an answer to that question haha. I’m pretty straight forward about who I am, what I do, and what I represent. I guess one would be that I am a sore loser, I take losses very hard and have sense I started competing in sports. It takes me a minute to regain composure and present myself the way I know I should.

Q: Finish this sentence. In five years Shawnee Merrell will be__?
A: Most likely be teaching students and will have had at the very minimum two professional MMA fights.

Q: Anybody you want to thank for helping you get ready for the fight and supporting you?
A: I really want to give a huge thank you to Ty Hamblin, he took a lot of abuse while I was cutting weight. And also pushed me to do my best and be ready for this fight. I also want to give a big thank you out to everyone who tuned in Jan 8, to to support me. Twenty one homes across Wyoming as well as three in Utah, tuned into the website. That really means a lot to me to know I have so much support.

Q: So whats next for you? Any idea when you will be fighting again?
A: Right now I’m in the process of getting my elbow healed so I can start to train again. As for fighting again I’m not really sure. I was offered to fight Feb 26 in Salem Oregon which would’ve been great but we had to decline to due this injury. I wanted to be at 100% going into that fight. So right now I’m really just focusing on school which started Jan 19, and making a full healthy recovery.

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: I really want to thank my coach and boyfriend Ty Hamblin for having me ready for this fight. My coach Teno Trujillo for his inspirational words of wisdom for my fight, my family for taking the time to crowd into my big brothers house to watch the fight. My sponsor S&W Welding, the Honda shop in rock springs (Brandon Moses) for our first tank of gas, and of course Slade Bittler for my amazing hot pink tights and new gear that the commission wouldn’t let me wear. Also I want to say thanks to my new friends, Chris and Khia Oddo for being so supportive, and Maylee Siekawitch for being so awesome.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Shawnee Merrell the fighter and person?
A: I’d be open to new sponsors for sure. They can reach me at And they will be getting an aggressive, well rounded, classy fighter. I will do my best and everything in my power to promote them as I travel throughout the MMA world.

Q: Shawnee again, I want to thank you for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: I just want to thank you Jason. I really enjoy the effort in which you promote women in fitness and MMA. You do a great job, and definitely an inspiration to me. Thank you again for the opportunity.

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