Sunday, November 20, 2011
Spotlight Interview: Rachel Dovidio
I try and be impartial whenever I can, but there are certain times I simply can't be. One of those times is when talking about Rachel Dovidio. Rachel isn't just a fighter I cover, she is a close friend, in fact even my occasional lifting partner. I was with her for the days leading up to her last fight and was amazed at how hard she worked having to deal with a bad weight cut. But she cut and she won. Now she is just days away from her 135 pound amateur title fight at NAAFS Night of Champions with Evva Johnson. This is a fight Rachel has earned and worked hard for, and fighting in her home town of Canton she gets the chance to make her mark on the WMMA world.
Q: Can you start out by just talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I worked at Ladies First Fitness as a manager and a girl asked me if I would be interested in Tae Kwon Do, her name was Vickie, I said "Sure I'll try it". She took me to Victory, I sat in on her Tae Kwon Do class and hated it. I thought it was boring, but the class afterwords caught my attention. I asked what it was and they told me, and I said "That's what I wanna do". So I started coming and fell in love with it.
Q: For someone who may have never seen you fight, describe Rachel Dovidio as a fighter?
A: Describe me as a fighter........I'm not... I guess technical. I'm not a very technical fighter. I get in and get the job done. It may not look pretty, but it's how I am.
Q: You just got to spend time training in Las Vegas, can you talk about that?
A: It was fantastic. Jordan McDonald always invited me to come out and I finally took her up on it. We went to Dysdale's for Jiu-Jitsu. Tyson Griffin, Frank Mir and other fighters were very helpful. Robert Drysdale was helping Frank Mir and took his attention away from the big UFC fighter to walk across the gym and tell me what I was doing right and wrong. It meant alot. He is not about making money and having an image, he wants everyone to be good. Frank Mir invited me and Jordan to his gym, it was a great experience. I got to see him train and his coaches. They were willing to help us. I went to Wanderlei Silva's gym and got the crap kicked out of me in Muay Thai class. It was non-stop kick the crap out of you. If you get tired, too bad, suck it up and keep coming. It was one of the best experiences.
Q: You are fighting Evva Johnson, what do you know about her?
A: I've watched very little on her. I had a few people tell me some things about her, you being one of them. That she is more of a ground girl and he Jiu-Jitsu is pretty good. From what I have seen and looking at records, she hasn't fought anyone that seems to challenge her. It doesn't make her not a good fighter, I just think she hasn't been pushed yet and this fight she will get pushed because I know what I am doing, I have a winning record, the other girls didn't. I don't think she has been pushed and this fight will let her know if she is on her game or needs to go back to the drawing board.
Q: What would winning a title in a company like NAAFS mean to you?
A: Having a title for me personally means a lot cause I am not sure if I am gonna go pro. This may be one of my only opportunities. Last year no one would fight me for this, I had to wait a whole year to get this opportunity, so it means a lot to me. 135 is becoming as I get older to make, we all know this. So I am not sure how my fighting career is gonna continue, if I continue at 135 or move to 145, or what am doing. So this opportunity means a lot and for it be be with NAAFS who is a no shit and big name company it means a lot to even have an opportunity with them.
Q: A lot of people say how they would love to fight in their home town, you have before and get to do it again, whats that like?
A: Nerve racking haha. Very nerve racking because who wants to lose in front of their friends and family. I know that if would lose a fight my friends and family would be very supportive and then you have those ass holes who rub it in your face that you lost. Those are things you have to overlook, when its in your home town you have to deal with it a little more. I know I am a good fighter, but I also know there are girls out there who are better than me. I don't think I am the best by far. I am tough and can handle my own but there are always fighters better than you. You have to prepare and hope that you are ready, cause its a challenge whether in your home town or not. It does motivate me because you don't wanna lose in front of friends and family. It means a lot to make them proud of you.
Q: Can having all those people their rooting fro you help you?
A: I think..... like I said, it motivates you to want to win more. You know they love and support you through everything. But you know they are there if you do lose to pick you back up. After the fight your friends and family will be there saying you did great. It is nice to be surrounded by people who do love you if you lose because they do believe in you. Especially good friends like you who always believes in me Jason.
Q: For an opponent, can the crowd supporting you so much intimidate her?
A: I think ti does weigh on them a bit, but at the same time it may motivate them. They wanna prove that they earned their spot and say "You may not like me, but I am here and am here to destroy your home town girl". It could go either way depending on the person. It would motivate me.
Q: What do you expect from her?
A: Just because I think she is a ground girl, she might wanna come out and bang. Leave the ground for later to prove she is more than just a ground girl. So I honestly can't completely prepare for that. I fought Sara McMann who is a total wrestler, and her whole plan was to come out throwing and use the wrestling when she needed to. So who knows. If she is a ground person and wants to stand with me and feels my heavy hands, instinct might kick in and she may decide to go to the ground. If that's where she wants to go, I might not be the best Jiu-Jitsu person, but I am strong and know enough to get out of there or make it boring enough to make it be stood up.
Q: Whats they key for you in this fight?
A: Everyone knows if they have seen my fights that I like to bang. I am not scared to get hit or eat a punch from you to get close to do what I need to do. But I have been working with Tony (Castillo) on my wrestling and working more with my kicks, getting my confidence up. So I might be willing to branch out a little bit, but like I said instinct kicks in, and my instinct is to beat your face in. So I cant say I have a huge strategy, I hit her, test her out, see how she likes it and if she don't like it, I hit her some more haha. Keep my distance, if she does try and take my down, try and defend it, and if she does I am confident and not worried about being down there.
Q: Any prediction on how it ends?
A: I would love love a KO, that would be ultimate. But honest to God I don't see it going all three rounds. If it does, its slack on my part cause I feel much better than my last fight. So either she is one tough son of a bitch or....I don't know. I see it ending in first round or beginning of the second.
Q: Assuming you win, any idea what you want next?
A: If I win this fight, since I got my weight cut under control, I was thinking of doing Eve of Destruction at 135. After that I am not so sure on the weight situation. As I get older 135 is getting harder. I might go to 145.
Q: I am friends with a lot of female fighters as you know, many of the young ones, like an Ashley Hawkins, mention you as a fighter they like or respect or look up to. Does that mean anything to you?
A: Honestly, I don't think I am good enough to look up to. I appreciate it but ya know..... I grew up kinda in the ghetto, grew up with all boys ya know. I grew up tough. I am not a very technical fighter, if you look up to me, don't always do what I do. I am not always in there doing it correctly, getting wrapped up in the hands. But I appreciate it and am willing to train with anyone if they wanna train with me and show them what I know and learn from them cause you can always learn something, even if they didn't do it as long as you.
Q: Anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: There are a lot of people. First and foremost, I have to thank Jason Adams. You always get jipped. Every time we get to mention you its taken aways from us or mention you in the paper they leave it out, its quite frustrating. My last fight you were there for me through everything and did everything with me and I really wanna thank you and never got my opportunity. So first and foremost I want to thank you. You always support me and do everything for me and when I doubt myself, you never do, which means a lot to me. For this fight I have to thank Todd McGonigal and Jimmy Mikstay, two guys from Powerhouse gym who have been in my ass about my weight, they remind me of you. "Where is your weight, why didn't you come for help". In my ass and supportive, the nicest people in the world. Of course Victory for taking me back. I was gone for a couple years, and they took me back with open arms and let me where the Victory logo and represent them. They didn't have to cause I have only been back a couple months. Pat Schottenheimer is gonna corner me as well as I believe Terry Blackwell. They put in good work with me along with Tony, Josh Kissinger has helped with my hands. Strong Style for letting me come train with Jess (Jessica Eye)and thanks to Jess. She beat the shit out of my legs haha. It showed me I can take it and don't want to take it haha, so learned to defend it better. My sponsors, Freedom Fighters and Tussle for sponsoring me this fight. Thanks to Nichole (Long) for that one. Nichole is not just my manager, but one of my really good friends and means the world to me. NAAFS for giving me this opportunity. If I left anyone out I apologize but there are so many who have helped me.