2.19.2009

Chevelle Hallback is Keeping an Eye on Carano and Cyborg


As part of my coverage of the upcoming XFC 7: School of Hard Knox event, I interviewed Chevelle Hallback. What follows is a press release on Hallback sent to me by the XFC in which, among other things, Hallback discusses where she discusses her place among the top contenders in women's MMA.

Check after the jump for the press release.

-PreView


From the Press Release:

When you’re a four-time female world boxing champion, having captured titles with the IBA, IFBA, WIBA and WBAN, you’re going to be held to an extremely high standard. When you’ve won fights on FOX Sports, ESPN and Pay-Per-View, the audience will expect to witness blazing hand-speed and thunderous punches whenever you compete. And when you’re so dominant in prize fighting that EA Sports has even featured you as a playable character in its “Knockout Kings” video game franchise, fans will expect you to deliver a dominating performance from the moment the first bell chimes.

Even when you’re trying to master a brand new sport.

And when – in your Mixed Martial Arts debut – you utterly decimate former EliteXC fighter Melissa Vasquez, stopping her after a barrage of punches in just 41 seconds, the expectations of fans and industry experts changes once again.

Now, it’s not just a question of whether or not Chevelle “Fists of Steel” Hallback will eventually battle the likes of Gina Carano or Cyborg Santos. It’s a question of when.

And also, whether or not she’s already the best female fighter in MMA.

“I try not to get caught up in the expectations game,” said Chevelle Hallback from her training camp in Tampa, Florida. “I’ve learned that the only expectations I can fully control are my own – and my personal expectations aren’t influenced by outside opinions. All I’ve got to say is, I’m working nonstop to learn all the nuances of MMA, and when those big fights happen, believe me – I’ll be ready."

Before stepping into the cage against Carano or Santos, Hallback will face Sarah Wilson, a Muay Thai expert from Waterloo, Iowa. Wilson brings an amateur record of 7-0 and a professional record of 1-0 to her fight against Hallback on the undercard of XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox,” the first-ever professional MMA fight card in Tennessee state history. The event takes place on Friday, February 20 at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Since signing with Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) in November of 2008, Hallback has trained full-time with XFC trainer Mike Yanez, a Popovitch black belt in BJJ. Yanez’s fighters have won 80% of their professional and amateur bouts, and Hallback credits Yanez for her accelerated MMA development. “Mike knows the game, but more importantly he knows how to teach,” said Hallback. “He’s so well-versed in MMA’s intricacies, every minute I’m learning something new. The submissions, the counter-holds, the ground game – I’ve learned that just a subtle change in body position can literally be the difference between winning and losing. And I don’t plan on losing.”

According to Hallback, MMA training is significantly more challenging than the training she undertook for boxing. “Boxing is primarily preoccupied with footwork and hands,” Hallback explained. “MMA is about the total body – from head to toe. And the flexibility training is completely new to me! Retraining my body for MMA was difficult at first, but my body eventually acclimated itself to the sport. And now, rolling on the ground is as automatic as firing a three-punch combination.”

Speaking of punches, did Yanez try to tweak Hallback’s boxing technique? “No, he left that pretty much alone,” she laughed. “My fists are a proven commodity. And I don’t want to sound arrogant, but any girl who wants to trade punches with me is absolutely crazy. And if she does want to trade, she won’t be trading very long, I promise you.”

And does Hallback think she’s now ready to fire those punches at Gina Carano or Cyborg Santos? “Yeah, I’m ready now,” she immediately replied, “but I’ll be more ready one month from now. And even more ready one month after that. I’m still improving, and within six months, I don’t think anyone will be able to talk about the top female fighters in MMA without mentioning my name. I respect the world out of girls like Gina and Cyborg. They’ve already done so much in the sport – and I’m still learning. They’ve earned their right to be at the front of the line. I’ve gotta wait, just like everyone else.”

Hallback then flashed a wide grin and added: “That means that Sarah Wilson and all the other girls waiting in line with me should be on the lookout. ‘Cause I plan on shortening this line, one fight at a time.”

XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox,” the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee state history, takes place on February 20 at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena. Undefeated heavyweights collide in the main event when Scott “The Bear” Barrett battles Chad Corvin in a showdown between two of the fastest-rising prospects in the sport. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.

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About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the next generation of MMA superstars, XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox” will take place on February 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee. XFC 7 will make history as the first-ever pro MMA event in Tennessee state history. For more information about XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.

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