A battle tested warrior in the sport of MMA, Kelly Kobold will throw down with fellow WMMA pioneer Tonya Evinger on December 7th at Invicta FC 7.

A finisher through and through, Kobold is ready to step back into cage and provide her signature brand of exciting fights, and will look to have her hand raised when the dust settles on December 7th.

Corey Smith: An original pioneer in the sport, how did you first start down the path to mixed martial artist?

Kelly Kobold: One of my college classmates was a fighter. His name is Sam Morgan. (TUF season 3) I went to meet the team (Bison) of fighters Sam trained with and watch one of his fights in Duluth, MN. While at the show I have a verbal exchange with a young woman in the crowd who was cheering for an opposing team’s fighter.  We really got into the show and challenged each other to a fight. The promoter was all for it!

CS: Are you still currently training out of Team Bison? What makes you call the gym your home?

KK: Team Bison disbanded a few years ago. For the past several years I’ve been training at Spartan Martial Arts out of Oakdale, MN. (Suburb of St. Paul) Spartan Martial Arts is owned and operated by BJJ black belt Tom Schmitz. It’s a state of the art facility with over 7,000 square feet of training space. Spartan really is a one stop shop! It’s got EVERYTHING! I practically live there! I spend 25+ hours a week there. If you don’t count sleeping- that is actually more time than I spend at my house. Even my friends who don’t want to be cage fighters bring their children to kid’s BJJ and Muay Thai classes while getting their own work outs done in the Martial Arts Fitness program.

KK: I get nutritional support, advice, and supplements from the Nutrishop on site. I train BJJ, Muay Thai, and wrestling with a diverse group of students. The strength and conditioning coach, Ben Locken, has really whipped me into shape!  I’ve never been leaner, stronger or more confident in my skills. Some of my coaches and teammates are family to me! Home is where the heart is and mine definitely belongs to Spartan Martial Arts.

CS: What do you think veteran experience helps you with the most inside the cage?

KK: Now that I’m a little older and have that veteran experience under my belt I’m able to stay calm and focused in the cage. I’ve been there; I’ve done that… many times before.

CS: Your last appearance in the cage was in April of 2011. What led to the long layoff? Why was it important for you to step in the cage again?

KK: My last scheduled bout was derailed by an injury. I’ve been beating my body up for over a decade now; injuries are just a part of the game. In the meantime I’ve been focused on building my 9-5 professional career. A huge motivational factor for me to return to the cage has been the success of Invicta and the UFC’s addition of a Women’s division. Maybe someday soon I won’t have to choose between fighting and a career that’ll pay my bills.

CS: Your opponent at Invicta FC 7, Tonya Evinger, brings a similar talent base and veteran experience with her into the cage. How familiar are you with Evinger? What are your expectations for yourself going into the bout?

KK: I’ve got nothing but respect for Tonya. I’ve seen many of her fights. She’s talented and gritty.  Her strengths match up well with my [historical] weaknesses and vice versa. I’m not a big fan of humble pie so I won’t make any cocky statements, promises, or predictions other than to say it’ll be a real war… no matter what happens!

CS: As a respected veteran of the sport, and someone who has fought for a myriad of promotions, what do you think a promotion that features only female athletes like Invicta does for the sport?

KK: A promotion like Invicta brings the ladies to the forefront! We get to come and compete as athletes and not sideshow novelties. I’m just a fighter in Invicta’s cage not a woman that fights. That’s a very important step forward for MMA in general not just WMMA!

CS: Most fighters list the weight cut as the hardest aspect of being a fighter. Setting that aside, what do you consider the hardest aspect of being a fighter?

KK: Being a fighter is a lifestyle. You have to be very dedicated to your training and nutrition. All of my free time is spent at Spartan Martial Arts. It’s a huge time commitment. I’m at the gym while my friends are shopping after work, drinking on the weekends, or seeing movies. I don’t get to eat cake, cookies, or pizza. The hardest part of being a fighter for me is missing out on sharing those experiences with the people in my life.

CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?

KK: I’m impatient on fight night. I can’t wait to get it over and done with! Let me at it! It’s been so long since I’ve fought I don’t know that any routines or superstitions will carry over. I used to eat a lot of PEZ before my fights to get a sugar rush- but I’ve been eating so clean the last couple years that I don’t think it would still have the same energizing effect for me it once did.  I may have to start some new routines for this bout.

CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?

KK: The head Coach from Spartan Martial Arts, Tom Schmitz, will be in my corner along with my former coach from Team Bison, Mike Reilly. Both are experienced martial artists and veteran corner men from top promotions such as UFC, Invicta, Pride, Dream, Shooto, etc.  Tom is familiar with my technical abilities and Mike is very motivational for me. I rely on my corners to provide an outside perspective. They can see things I may be missing and adjust my game plan accordingly between rounds.

CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?

KK: I wish I could say I watched more MMA than I do… but I’m always at the gym or recovering from the gym.  If I hear good things about a fight or need to see footage of a prospective opponent I’ll look it up after the fact and watch the video online.

CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?

KK: There isn’t much free time left after my 8 hour work day and training schedule- but I really enjoy taking my dog to the off leash park and watching her play, jogging on the nature reserve trails near my house, and thrift store shopping!

CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?

KK: I’d like to thank all of my coaching staff and team mates at Spartan Martial Arts, my family, and friends. It’s been one hell of a ride and it’s not over yet!