Competing at EBI was an incredible experience despite my loss. It was an absolute honour to be invited to the first female only card and compete amongst 15 other badass women.
The EBI prep was quite brutal on the body. As soon as I got back from Worlds, I trained no gi every day, twice a day. The leg entanglements hurt my shoulders when I bridged off them, and the overtime rounds specific training pretty much killed my arms, neck and back. A lot of the training took place with our ADCC team of purple-black belt guys who certainly didn’t go easy on me. It’s fair to say my body was thankful when it was time to taper and get ready to compete.
I flew in to LA on Friday and met good friend Erin Herle at my hotel. Erin was kind enough to drive me around for the day and keep me company. Originally she was one of the first fighters to be invited, but a persistent knee infection meant she had to withdraw from the competition.
We spent the day playing basketball (as you do) and generally being loud and obnoxious. It was a perfect way for me to move around a little, but not waste my energy on being too nervous.
The next day, all the other fighters started arriving at the hotel so Erin and I met up with Kristina Barlaan and continued on with our crazy. There was plenty of laughter, sun-baking and terrible dancing to go with Kristina’s lovely signing.
The brackets came out that night. I felt so well prepared that I did not really care who I would fight first. I was happy with my bracket and went to sleep calm and relaxed that night.
I worked extremely hard at bulking up in the last 2 months by being disciplined with eating more and often, lifting and taking creatine. It was pleasing to see that I was nearly on weight after a full dinner and breakfast and that I wouldn’t be too teeny on the night.
We got driven to the venue and went through the rules meeting before it was time to warm up. Seeing the Orpheum Theatre and the whole production team setting up made it all feel very real. Although my nerves were at check, I won’t lie and say I felt no pressure. I am aware that the pressure I feel is what I put on myself, and I know it is actually a privilege of an emotion. However it doesn’t make it any easier. I wanted to perform well. I wasn’t there to make up the numbers nor did I considered myself an underdog. I have trained EBI/ADCC rules for a while and have good knowledge of leg locks. I also wanted to represent my club Absolute well and follow in the footsteps of Lachie and Craig who both made it to the semis at EBI. I wanted to make my club and the Aussie community proud. So many people gave up their time to help me prepare and I wanted to fight well as though to say thank you. I knew my family, friends, teammates and my competitors would be watching and I wanted to put on a show. These are all the things I had to block out when I put the headphones on to warm up. I needed to do all of it for me.
I was so grateful to have some top people in my corner – Al, Erin and Jason. Since no Aussies were able to come with me to LA, it made it all a little bit easier to know that someone had my back.
I stood on the platform listening to Bruce Buffer announce my name and I knew there was nowhere else I would rather be. Eddie asked if we were ready and we tapped hands. I pulled quickly and ended up in closed guard. After trying hard to work my Williams guard, but failing to set up a triangle, I opened to try to enter to a leg entanglement and aim to finish the fight quickly. Erin was doing a great job keeping her hips low and making it difficult for me to attack her legs, but I found an opening for a kimura. In fact, during the fight I did have a few kimura attempts of which none I finished. I will be working hard on this in training to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Probably 3 minutes into the fight, something happened to my breathing. I’m unsure if it was a massive adrenaline dump, but I could not control my heart rate or my breathing rate for the life of me. This made me panic and as a result I made some terrible choices like going to turtle to catch my breath… I somehow managed to recover and get on top and pass Erin’s guard, but again couldn’t find a sub or in fact, I couldn’t even think very clearly. I eventually saw an opening for a heel hook, but when we rolled off the mats it was way too loose and I lost the position. The last minute of the match was a blur as I tried attacking the kimura again and then nearly got arm barred in the last 10 second of the fight.
I re-focused quickly and chose the arm bar for the overtime rounds. Erin escaped my attempt and I escaped hers. Next overtime round saw Erin start from the back where she eventually subbed me. I tried to hold off as much as I could to buy some time and had 1 minute 30 sec to sub her. I started from the arm bar and as I tried to wind up my hand, I didn’t control Erin’s posture and I got stacked. In a split second, my hand slipped from my hip and I lost the arm completely. And that was it.
Erin went on to win the whole thing in a very impressive manner. She showed a lot of good jiu jitsu and amazing control and maturity.
The girls and I watched majority of the fights backstage. Most of us were supporting each other and really enjoyed the night together. I heard Talita coach me during my fight and we managed to turn our losses into smiles by the end of the show.
Unfortunately I hurt my back badly during the fight, but I didn’t it realise until I walked off the stage. In the end I don’t think it contributed to my loss as I’m not even sure at what stage of the fight I got injured. The pain only hit me as soon as the adrenaline wore off and it was excruciating. I haven’t experienced anything like it before and even though I treat patients with acute disc bulges every day, it was super scary. Thank you to Erin, Kristina, Al and Dawna who looked after me, got me off the floor and even dressed me. Flying home was absolute hell, but I’m happy to say that after 2.5 weeks of rest and a whole lot of back rehab I am back to rolling this week relatively pain free. It is so good to train again and I have been focusing on fixing the many mistakes I made at EBI.
Understandably I was sad to lose first round and not show my best form. I was well prepared and ready and I know I have a lot more to give. At least I know I left it all on the mats that night, but the only way forward is to improve more and do much better next time.
I’m very grateful to have been invited by Eddie – the whole experience was incredible. I can’t wait to be back on the show in the near future in a more comfortable weight at 115lbs. EBI is such an amazing production and I am stoked they are now supporting female fighters and offering the same prize money as they do for men. Make sure you tune in to UFC Fight Pass and support the next show.