After an extensive amateur career, Colorado’s JJ Aldrich will make her professional debut September 6th at Invicta FC 8, when she quarrels with submission artist Delaney Owen.
Corey Smith: What was your first exposure to martial arts? What prompted you to continue training in martial arts?
JJ Aldrich: I started in martial arts when I was nine. My mom sent my sister and me to Tae Kwon Do, at a local rec center. It just clicked right away. I loved every second of it. Before I was into martial arts I grew up watching Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies, stuff like that. I was always into it as a kid.
CS: You had quite an extensive career as an amateur, what led you to the decision to turn pro?
JJA:I just finally feel like I have enough fights under me, and I finally got to the weight class that I needed to be at. One of my first fights was at 135 pounds, and now I am down to 115. I wasn’t in a rush; I wanted to make sure I learned everything that I needed to learn before I turned pro.
CS: You train out of the 303 Training Center in Colorado. What makes 303 your home? What advantages does training at altitude offer an athlete?
JJA: I train at 303 because they have the best coaches. Tony Basile, a great Jiu Jitsu black belt, turned his Jiu Jitsu into MMA really well. Also my training partners. I get to cross train with a lot of great people. The atmosphere there is great, everyone is so good. They really push you. It’s more like a family than a team.
JJA:The altitude, well today I went up to 1700 feet for running. So it’s a big advantage I feel. It’s a huge difference.
CS: You also cross train with Grudge Training Center members. Among them you have Invicta alum Rose Namajunas, and current Invicta athlete Cassie Robb. What is the team atmosphere like at Grudge?
JJA: 303 helps them out with their Jiu Jitsu, and Grudge helps us out with their striking. We get to cross train with whoever we want. I get to spar with all of their guys, which helps a lot. Cassie Robb, Rose, Stephanie Skinner, I get to spar with some of the best training partners around. I’ve trained with Raquel Pennington before. I have a lot of good training partners here in Colorado.
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?
JJA: Honestly I would say the mental part. Going to class, going to the gym every single day and trying to give it your all. Pushing through injuries, and trying to stay mentally tough and mentally good. If you’re not mentally strong you go to the gym and do it half way all the time, and it doesn’t get you anywhere.
CS: What was the process that led to signing your Invicta FC contract? How has your experience been thus far with Invicta FC?
JJA: My last fight was against Ashley Greenway, who is also an Invicta athlete. After I fought that one and won, it was time to go pro so we made a movement toward Shannon Knapp. Hit her up on Twitter, sent her emails, and really just tried to get my name out to her. She started emailing me back and retweeting me, and before you know it I was signed.
JJA:Invicta has been awesome to me. I can’t believe that I got signed, and the same exact day I was signed I already had a fight. So they have been really good to me. They matched me up with a pretty fair fight. I don’t feel like anyone is really overmatched on either side of the fight card.
CS: Your opponent at Invicta FC 8, Delaney Owen, brings a strong submission game into the cage with her. What are you expecting out of the fight?
JJA: I’m sure she is going to take me down and try to submit me. She is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu, and so am I. I don’t think that it is that big of a difference on the ground. I have a lot of submission victories too, so it will be a good fight.
CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?
JJA:I don’t have any superstitions or anything; I just make sure I’m warmed up. I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to being in the back. I just try to relax, put my headsets on, talk or joke around a bit. I don’t like to take it too serious until it’s time to fight. Otherwise you get tense, which is not good. Everybody has their way of preparing themselves to get ready.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
JJA:Mike Gonzales, my head coach, normally goes with me everywhere. I like them to be calm, I don’t like it when they yell. If they do then I get frustrated, I just like them to tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I need to do better. If they can calm me down in-between rounds, then the minute or so you do get will go slower.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
JJA:As far as for fun, I just like to go for hikes, or do stuff like that. When I am just trying to relax I like to watch movies, or just hang out. I like action movies the best.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
JJA: First of all I want to thank all my teammates at 303 Training Center. Brittany Elkin, Stephanie Skinner, Cassie Robb, Rose Namajunas, and anyone else that I am not thinking of there. They push me everyday.
JJA:I want to thank Rosa from White Buffalo Management, Mike Gonzalez, my corner.
JJA: Brawlin Combat Gear, Outlaw Fight Gear, Clinch Mouthguards, FYU Lifestyles, and Sic Chic Fight Gear.
Invicta FC 8 takes place September 6th live from the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The full card will air live via UFC Fight Pass.