Interview with Women's MMA Fighter Vanessa Bohleber

In the first in a series of interviews I'm doing with female fighters, I'd like to introduce you to Vanessa Bohleber, a fighter out of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Vanessa has a lot of great things to say about the sport and pilot for a TV show on Women's MMA that she was involved in. She's been involved in multiple aspects of the sport - as a promoter, fighter and even ring girl.

Check after the jump for the full interview.

FightTicker: First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?

Vanessa Bohleber: My name is Vanessa Bohleber I started karate when I was ten and opened my own martial arts school when I was eighteen in Evansville, IN. After 8 years I started MMA and shortly after I moved to Elizabethtown KY to train full time with Josh Johnson at Etown BJJ and Judo.

FT: How did you get into MMA?

VB: I did karate for 14 years and was looking for something a little different than traditional martial arts. So started training with Joe Baize at Nice Guy Submission Fighting, having an extensive background in stand up I soon realized I needed to work more on the ground.

My current record is 2-1.

I've fought for Warrior FC in Elizabethtown KY and Cincinnatti, OH and for Powerkick Promotions in Louisiana.

FT: Are you able to train full time?

VB: I'm lucky enough that my work is flexible and I'm able to train in the morning and evenings, and also take time off to travel.

FT: Average day of training?

VB: I usually do a cardio and ab workout in the mornings, a run or bike around 3 and train gi jiu-jitsu and kickboxing for 2-3 hours in the evening.

FT: What kind of mental preparations do you go through?

VB: My coach has this plan of making me feel like I can't do anything right, so I train harder, then about every week or so he gives me a small compliment, so I train harder, then he makes me feel even worse than I did the first time. And we repeat this over and over, it works for us.

FT: What kind of training do you consider most important?

VB: I consider myself well rounding in my training routine, we focus more on BJJ but have excellent kickboxing and wrestling coaches.

FT: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

VB: My last fight was the first real fight that I had, it was the semi main event in Louisiana, I learned a lot from it and it was a great experience.

FT: What's your favorite technique?

VB: I go for heel hooks mostly but everybody has that figured out by now, so I need to switch up my game.

FT: What kind of sponsorship deals do you have?

VB: Submit MMA has worked with me lately, they are at all my shows and support me a lot.

FT: How have you seen women's mma grow?

VB: There are more women training now than ever, even with recent set backs such as Elite XC going under. Its grown to the point where it's possible to do an all womens' show, and there are more opportunities for women as far as sponsorships and contracts.

FT: Tell us about Hardrock MMA.

VB: In October of last year my boyfriend "Hardrock" Higdon and I started our own fight promotion, we've had 2 shows so far, Dec 13th in Elizabethtown and Jan. 10th in Kings Mountain. Both were a huge success and we have many excellent fight teams such as Etown Beatdown, 4 Seasons, Louisville MMA, and Team Animal. Our next show is Jan. 24th in Campbellsville and March 14th in Etown.

FT: Tell us about the MMA reality show you recently participated in.

VB: In December 8 girls including me, Tonya Evinger, and Mallissa Sherwood filmed a Womens MMA reality show pilot. We went through 7 days of training with Urijah Fabar at Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento and at the Lions Den with Ken Shamrock. After the first few days you kinda forget about the cameras and it's just like another day of training. Sleep was an issue, we averaged about 4 hours a night. Between traveling, interviews and photo shoots there wasn't much time for anything else. If the network likes then Season 1 will be filmed as far as I know.

FT: What do you enjoy the most about the different roles in MMA you've been involved with?

VB: I enjoy fighting the most, but I'm very busy with the promotion lately. That works out because training is kind of a stress reliever for me. I haven't ring girl'd in a while but one of these days I might do it again just for fun.

FT: Who are some fighters that you admire?

VB: I've gotten to see Julie Kedzie fight in Hook N Shoot many times and now she trains with Greg Jackson who I've always admired as a coach. She seems to really enjoy training and I'm glad she has gotten the opportunities that she has, she deserves them.

FT: What do you like most about being a fighter?

VB: I like the incredible shape that fighting keeps you in, but I hate it every morning when I wake up and can't move from the workout the night before. Hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

FT: What is something that you've had to deal with that you didn't expect?

VB: I didn't realize how extensive BJJ is, you can train for years and still only know the basics. That can get frustrating but it's amazing learning something new everyday.

FT: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your down time?

VB: There isn't much down time between running Hardrock MMA and training. If I ever get some I'll let you know.

FT: What do your family and friends think about your career?

VB: Being a fighter isn't the ideal job my parents wanted for me but they've always been supportive and are proud of me in everthing that I do, all of my friends are fighters, and that's nice because they have a better understanding about what I go through.

FT: Are there other female fighters where you train?

VB: There is only one other girl that trains with me, Marie Luttrell, she hasn't had a fight yet but is really good at jiu-jitsu and helps me out a lot when I'm preparing for a fight.

FT: What are some issues that you've had to deal with as a woman in a male-dominated sport?

VB: I get treated exactly the same as the guys in my gym, outside of Etown things are a little different like in Louisiana they tried to schedule my fight as 3-3 min rounds instead of 3-5s like the guys.

FT: When do you think your next fight will be?

VB: Probably spring, I don't control my fights, I fight when Josh Johnson says. So if it's in a month that's fine, if it's in a year that's fine too.

FT: Thanks for everything, Vanessa - is there anybody you'd like to thank?

VB: I want to thank Josh Johnson and my team in Etown and Bowling Green, Submit MMA for all their support, and visit Hardrock Fight for info on our upcoming shows.


So there you have it. You can check out Hardrock Fight at the link above, and you can find Vanessa on myspace here with plenty of pictures from her fight in Louisiana as well as from the Women's MMA pilot.


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