I’m happy with my MMA fight career overall.

When I first decided I wanted to fight, it was because I thought it would be best for me to challenge myself to the utmost. I wanted the ultimate challenge. I had been doing only Brazilian Jiujitsu.

I wanted to become stronger and better. How could I call myself a martial artist if I didn’t try the most difficult thing? I decided that MMA was the most difficult thing.

So I debuted in MMA in Japan in 2003. Loved it. Found success. I wanted to implement my jiujitsu style, but wasn’t afraid to slug it out on the feet, bravely, unflinchingly.

vs Jen Howe 2, 2005
2004 Cross Section, Japan

I set a goal: to become the first woman in the UFC, which was the highest-level promotion in the world. Then Ronda Rousey had that honor, and I cried tears of sadness at my loss, buy joy for the gain of all females in the sport.

I changed my goal to “fighting in the UFC.” The joy I felt at finally achieving this goal was incomparable to anything else. It was mind-blowing ecstasy . Through hard work and perseverance, after ten years made it into The Ultimate Fighter Season 18, later 26 and then got officially signed.

Finally, I was good enough.

I had alternating wins and losses in the UFC until recently.

Last week was awesome. Since I had announced my retirement, it let fans and media ask me about it and celebrate my career. I hadn’t really thought of MMA as a career until I quit my English-teaching job in 2013 to focus on training. I wasn’t making money to live on and save until the UFC in 2018. The twenty-one year old girl in the past could never have imagined what her adventure in MMA would lead to. I tried to keep my goals simple so that I could achieve them and never thought about what it would be like in the end. Last week, I had reporters reminding me of my awesome fights, where I used to live, and all that I’ve done.

I was just fighting. I didn’t really think that I was paving the way for other women, but I guess it happened. I never intended to inspire others, but it happened. Apparently my efforts helped other women enter into the sport, too, gain acceptance, courage, and inspiration. It honors me to be told that I had a small role in that. I’m certainly not perfect, but I always try really hard.

So my fiance Chris went with me to Texas, followed by one of my coaches Jonny Persons, and first coach EVER Kirik. Thank you for coming, guys. Your support meant the world to me.

2005 with Kirik
Chris, me, Jonny, Kirik

Lots of people came to watch me fights. Thank you, fans who I don’t know personally. I had a friend from high school, Invicta friends, former training partner friends, my future in-laws, and more come. It was wonderful.

I felt very loved and appreciated.

Chris told me, “We get paid to fight, not to win. We get bonuses to win. You can’t have glorious battles if you aren’t challenged. If you have losses on your record, it means you fought badasses.”

I like that way of thinking. I’m so hard on myself for my losses, probably more than I should be.

But last week I was able to look back and give myself credit for all my hard work over the years.

My cosplay for weighins was All Might. I’m thrilled a lot people understood the reference.

And at ceremonial weigh-ins I forgot to step on the scale. I pointed at the audience, I pointed at Casey, and walked right up to her to face off. Oops. I got excited. She got REALLY close to me. I thought to myself, “Gosh she had pretty eyes.” *facepalm* As we were walking away Chris said something about the scale and I was like, “….omg oops.” lol

My friend Candy said, “It was kind of badass but you robbed me of my last gddammed picture of you on the scale. wtf lol”

All Might

I was really anxious on fight day, but Chris’ family came over to hang out while I was getting my hair braided. Brandi’s chatting helped keep me relaxed. That was really cool.

When I walked out for the last time, I heard my walk-out music play. “My Story” from My Hero Academia. It was perfect. “I know what I have to do now. It’s my life, one and only!” are the lyrics.

Casey was walking out and they told me to wait in the entrance. I stood there, kind of in the zone, trying to clear my mind and get ready to battle. I could see fans in front of me behind the barriers, to the sides of me, above me, leaning over the railings. I looked up and saw Rob, then Katie and some of my other friends. I raised my fist to the sky. About 100 fans raised their firsts. I gave a thumbs up. They also gave the thumbs up.

I smiled.

That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. Then my music started, and fans started screaming and cheering. I walked and all around me, everyone smiled and cheered for me. It was amazing. I felt so excited and empowered. They all really cared about me?!

Mike Beltran gave me a knowing smile as he checked my gloves, nails, etc. I went into the cage for the last time.

We had a glorious battle. I’ve never had so much success with my striking! I felt the most crisp I’ve ever felt. I felt amazing. Jonny had helped me so much. I’m really glad I mixed my lessons with him with my head coach John Wood, too. I realized I had leveled up and I was so happy. I was hitting her. My lead hooks were landing. I never threw many hooks before! My straights were landing solidly. I jabbed a lot. She threw back. My right hand got bruised from hitting her so much.

I landed a couple take downs.

When the fight was over, I thought I might have won, and was disappointed to have lost the decision. I went back and watched again. The commentators hardly mentioned anything about me hitting her – everything was about Casey. It made me wonder if I was actually landing anything! Then I remembered my bruised knuckles and her bruises. That is one of only pictures I found on the internet of me hitting her.

Whatever, I saw from the video that her strikes seemed harder because they made me move and jostle a bit more than when I hit her. I guess that’s why she won because she got more “significant strikes.” I would like to see the total punch count.

I’m disappointed in the result but the fact that in my heart I was happy with my fight, that’s what’s important. I’m pleased with my decisions leading up to the fight. I accomplished most of my goals.

Back in the doctor’s tent, I was sad….I got really emotional and started to cry. And then I realized I did everything I wanted to in the fight (except finish her). I threw the Kabosh (my secret attack) and she smiled at me because it’s a stupid move. lol I landed spinning attacks. I was able to fight with a super clear head! I could hear my cornerman Jonny well and react off his instructions.

I stood up and hugged Jonny, who had been working so closely with me for the past four months. I hugged him and cried happy tears. “I did it!” I cried. “I did the moves! I felt so sharp! I felt so good. My head was clear. I hit her so much! Thank you!” I just couldn’t stop crying. I was so happy.

After my last fight, I had wanted to say, “I got better.” Well, I had gotten better! I knew it in my heart so I was satisfied with myself. It’s such an honor to be able to fight in the UFC cage. After the fight, Casey got interviewed and booed, so she cussed them out and flipped off the crowd. o_O; Alrighty then. Chris and Jonny helped me take my gloves off. Chris wanted to lift me on his shoulders. I said, “No, I didn’t win so it’s not appropriate.”

“Do you hear them booing her?” he shouted over the noise. “The crowd wants this!” Alright.

Everyone cheered so loudly for me! ;_; Thank you, everyone! What a dream come true!

“No Matter how scary or (or sad) it gets, (a hero) must wear a smile that says ‘I’m fine!'”

Despite being sad I lost, sad I was retiring, I gave the thumbs up to the fans to show it was okay.

My Hero Academia

I got stronger.

My friends/family/ loved ones hung out with me in my hotel afterwards.

Chris took good care of me. He carried my luggage. I took a picture to commemmorate. Because I’ve been a single women for almost forever. I never had a man to do anything for me. I took care of myself. This is the end of my single-woman-ness. Now I have a wonderful man who is literally in my corner and it’s wonderful. Thank you, Chris Roman.

I feel a great sense of relief. Now I can train for fun, rather than my life depending on it. Being a professional MMA fighter has taken me around the world and brought so many amazing people into my life – my best friends literally started out as my fans.

Thank you to all the fans who are messaging me on social media, telling me they loved watching me and they’ll miss me in the octagon. Thank you to Team Syndicate, John Wood – who is the single most influential person in my career, Lorenzo, Mike Pyle, Jordan Monkey King, and Hannah. Also thanks DeAnna and Lauren for coming out to train!

Don’t stop following me yet! I promise, I will keep leading you on adventures if you are willing! 🙂