Invicta newcomer and UFC alumni Peggy Morgan will test herself against fellow Invicta rookie Irena Aldana September 6th at Invicta FC 8 in a pivotal Bantamweight bout.
Corey Smith: What initially drew you to Mixed Martial arts? Was there a specific moment that you realized you had the talent and desire to fight professionally?
Peggy Morgan: I came to MMA by way of boxing and kickboxing. I boxed and kickboxed as an amateur for a number of years. I stopped in 2008 when I got pregnant with my son. I didn’t plan to return to fighting, but I started learning BJJ for fun and it wasn’t long before my training partners convinced to take an amateur fight.
PM: There wasn’t really a moment that I decided to become a pro fighter. It happened more or less by accident. I took my first pro fight because an amateur fight I’d been preparing for fell through and a promoter called to offer me a professional fight.
CS: How long had you been training before going into the TUF house? What was that experience like for you?
PM: I’d only been training for about two years when I went into the TUF house. I knew going into it that I was still a little rough, but it was a great experience and a great opportunity.
PM: At the time the whole thing seemed just incredibly surreal. I never imagined that women would be on TUF and I certainly never imagined that I would be. At the same time, it was definitely difficult to be away from my family and friends. I missed my son, and it was hard to be separated from the people I count on for support.
PM: I think it was especially difficult for me because I didn’t really know any of the other contestants going into the show. Most of them knew each other and many had already fought, and I felt like a bit of an outsider.
CS: After the filming of TUF, you lost a decision to Jessamyn Duke. What lessons did you take away from that bout?
PM: To be honest, the bout with Jessamyn reaffirmed what I already knew about myself as a fighter. I knew I was incredibly tough but also very inexperienced.
PM: Skill wise, I had a lot to learn and a lot to refine. Following the loss, I got right back into the gym and started working to improve every aspect of my game.
CS: On the subject of lessons, you are also a professor of composition and literature. How do you juggle the two vastly different careers?
PM: Well, I’m not teaching right now, so I’m not really juggling them at all. It was really quite difficult to do both well. I ended up having to make a choice, and for the moment, I’ve chosen to fight.
CS: How has your experience been like thus far with Invicta FC? What do you think the Invicta/UFC FightPass does for the future of WMMA?
PM: So far my experience with Invicta FC has been very positive. I’m excited to be working with such an outstanding promotion. Before signing with Invicta, I heard nothing but positive things about the organization and about Shannon Knapp.
PM: The Invicta/UFC Fight Pass deal is awesome for WMMA. It gives women’s MMA more exposure and will lead to greater opportunities both for Invicta and for female athletes.
CS: Your opponent on September 6th, Irene Aldana, steps into the cage having secured all of her victories via KO or TKO. What are your expectations of the bout?
I expect a war! Obviously Aldana is a tough woman and a good fighter. I don’t expect it to be an easy matchup, but I do expect to come out on top. I’m not easy to put away, and I don’t think you’ll find many athletes physically and mentally tougher than I am.
PM: I’m also hoping to show everyone how much I’ve grown since my UFC fight. I’ve put in a lot of work and I really feel I’ve improved in every way since November.
CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?
PM: I’m usually calm and happy. I enjoy fighting. No routines or superstitions.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
PM: I’ve had many different corner people in my short career. Probably the most consistent corner person has been Chuck O’Neil from season 13 of TUF. I’ve only been training with my head coach, Nate Ryan, for the past year and a half, but he’s become essential to my corner. His style of coaching works very well for me. He’s calm and low key; he doesn’t scream and climb the side of the cage or anything.
PM: I also like to have Jimmy Quinlan from season 17 of TUF because he has a great eye for the sport and he’s one of the best wrestling coaches around. Since I only have two corners for this fight, Nate and Jimmy will be walking with me to the cage.
CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?
PM: I don’t watch a lot of MMA. I enjoy it when I do watch it, it’s just I don’t have a lot of time. When I’m not training or taking care of my son, I’m usually sleeping.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
PM: I don’t have a ton of spare time, but when I do, I like to read. I’m a huge nerd. There aren’t many things I enjoy more than curling up in bed with a book
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
PM: Okay, this is going to be a huge list. Firstly, I want to thank my coach, Nate Ryan. I also want to thank Jimmy Quinlan for agreeing to corner me/trying to teach me how to wrestle and Chuck O’Neil for pushing me.
PM: Everyone who trains with me and helps me to get better, but especially Tara Tremelling who comes in to spar with me religiously even though she isn’t currently fighting and has nothing to gain from it personally.
PM: Mike McCandless from Smartpowders.com for helping me in more ways than I can ennumerate.
PM: Linda Weenan Kriner for being an awesome manager.
PM: All of my sponsors for their support.
PM: Kyle Breire from Strength Lab NH.
PM: My family for putting up with me, particularly my son, Oliver, because it can’t be easy to have a crazy fighter mother.
PM: Invicta for giving me this opportunity, and the fans for supporting WMMA and making it what it is now and what it will be in the future.
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. Click below for tickets, or to subscribe to UFC FightPass.