Campbell McLaren’s Combate Americas is looking to generate a buzz around the women’s atomweight division by headlining Combate 11, on February 16, 2017, with an Eddie Bravo pupil in the form of Kyra Batara and Spain’s Vanessa Fernandez. Before heading into battle, Batara linked up with Bloody Elbow to discuss training under Bravo since the age of 13, how Phil Baroni made a lasting impression, and what Combate Americas is doing to build up a women’s atomweight division.
Combate Americas -> RIZIN FF -> Combate Americas:
“I’ve been signed with Combate. I’m on a multi-fight deal with them and I was selected out of a pool of fighters to go represent them in RIZIN. They had guys that they wanted. They were talking about Ricky Palacios also fighting for them, but they ended up taking me to fight their superstar Kanako Murata, who is actually a 125’er and I’m a 105’er. So, we met in the middle at 115…”
“I kind of did it just to get my foot in the door. Combate really wanted me to do it. Combate always talks about me being the Ronda Rousey of the organization. So, it’s a give and take, I know that. They wanted me to fight for them, so I was about it. I believed in them. They told me that it would be a really good fight for me, good exposure, so I was definitely all over that, knowing that it was a potential loss for me. I did go to a decision. I have that loss on my record now, but I learned a lot from it. It was a great experience. Me and my mom got to go to Tokyo Disneyland after. It was a lot of fun; I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
The Twister TKO:
“It definitely is one of my go-to moves, being that it is a wrestling move and a Jiu-Jitsu move. I like to say that my style is a ‘scrappler.’ I went with the TKO, but I have the Jiu-Jitsu and I feel like the Twister was my go-to. I can eliminate as many moves as possible, and still get the submission, or I could go for the TKO. No-one really believed me that I could finish the fight like that, but when I got in that position I was like, ‘The Korean Zombie already finished the Twister, Angela Lee finished the Twister. I need to do something fresh, something that everyone is going to be hyped over, and Eddie Bravo was in my corner. Eddie Bravo is known for the Twister. I’ve been repping 10th Planet since I was 13 years old, so I have to do my 10th Planet move, but put that little “Mogwai” funk on it. So, I hit her and like, 20 punches deep I hear Herb Dean, ‘You got to protect yourself; you got to protect yourself.’ They called it at about 48 punches, I think they counted.”
Training under MMA veteran Phil Baroni:
“Phil Baroni definitely put that wrestler grind into my mentality. I come from a wrestling background, which Eddie [Bravo] kind of forced me to wrestle all through high school. Working with Phil again, being back in the wrestling room, he was one of the coaches with Kevin Randleman. He was very good friends with him, so after he [Randleman] passed away, he started coaching more at Monster Wrestling. So, being in the room with all the kids, the wrestling room, I did a lot of striking with him for that fight. I felt like it gave me that hunger to get that TKO finish, too, in that fight.”
Will we ever see Baroni fight again?
“He was trying to fight. He was actually trying to get on the same card as me in Japan. That didn’t fall through. I know that he went to Thailand for awhile. I haven’t talked to him in a little bit, but I think he’s trying to fight again. Honestly, I don’t know.”
Making Bravo proud:
“He’s always so proud of me regardless. Like, he’s been in my corner since I was 13. he coached me at my very first world Jiu-Jitsu tournament. So, to get that win, he was just so happy. I’ve never seen him smile so big. He put it all over his Instagram, ‘Kyra invented the Twist and Pound. I’m so proud of her.’ Just to make him proud, being that all of his hard work, all the time and energy. He coaches Monday through Friday, every single week. He does so many seminars, he has a little baby boy Draco, and he’s still so invested in Jiu-Jitsu, doing so much for the sport. So, being able to have these little wins for him, it means so much to me, to make him proud.”
Bred for battle by Bravo:
“He’s always in my corner when I’m in L.A. Definitely, he raised me. I was 13 years old when he met me. He helped me grow my dream. He was one of the first people that I shared my dream of being a mixed martial artist with. I told him from a very young age, ‘Eddie, I want to do this. I want to be a fighter.’ He looked at me and was one of the very first people that told me, ‘I think you’re going to be a champion one day. I know you’re going to be a champion one day.’ So, for a 13 year old kid to hear that from a name like Eddie Bravo, it just sparked a fire in me and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to show you. i will be a champion. I’m going to work my ass off, and I have ever since that day.”
Facing Kanako Murata at RIZIN 2 in Japan:
“I honestly thought a lot had to do with the weight. It was a heavier weight for me, so I was the smaller fighter going into it. I didn’t have a lot of time to bulk up for that fight. I was preparing for a 105 fight… I was also coming off of an injury, so I couldn’t run. I couldn’t do a lot of the cardio that I was doing, so I had to swim a lot. I had to do a lot of just easy, light movements, a lot of kettlebells. So, I wasn’t as prepared as my body should have been going into that fight. I think that my striking was good, it was the ring, it was Japan, the travel, the rules… I honestly feel if I fought her again, here in the States in my cage, my town, any town really, if I fought her in the States, in a cage, it would be a completely different story.”
Combate Americas atomweight queen:
“So, for this fight, we called out the top 10 girls. We called out Julia Jones. We called out Tessa Simpson. We called out Bi Nguyen. We called out the girl that Alyssa Garcia just fought in Japan [Kanna Asakura], so all of these high level names. We called out a lot of hyped atomweights right now, and they didn’t fall through, so we had to look elsewhere. We went to Spain, so that’s where Vanessa Fernandez is coming from. She’s from Spain; she’s a 8-time Judo champ, but she does only has 4 fights. So, Combate believed she wasn’t ready for a title shot with me, or deserving of a title shot with me, but they said that after this fight, I will be presented the belt inside the cage, after I win.”
Vanessa Fernandez at Combate 11 on February 16:
“She is from Spain, and I only found 2 fights on her. There’s not a lot to study on her, and one of the fights, it was very choppy. I couldn’t really see a lot and the one that was a very clear recording, ended in the first round. There wasn’t any strikes thrown. She got a very beautiful fireman’s carry early in the first round, but then she ended up in an ankle lock by a boxer. So it’s like, it’s kind of confusing. She got submitted by a boxer, but she does have submission wins, but she did have a beautiful throw. So, it’s kind of like, where do I want to take this? I know she has a very strong Judo background, but I believe in my Jiu-Jitsu so much. I have Eddie Bravo in my corner; I’m coming from Carlson Gracie.”
You can catch Kyra Batara taking on Vanessa Fernandez at Combate 11 on February 16, 2017. The event will air live on Azteca America in Español and on UFC Fight Pass in English. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your MMA coverage including news, interviews, analysis, and more!
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