Believing that the mind plays as big a part of a battle as her fists, Amanda Bell has set her mind on her next target at Invicta FC 9 November 1st; Denmark’s Maria Hougaard-Djursaa.
Corey Smith: What initially started you on the mixed martial arts path? What were those first few months of training like for you?
Amanda Bell: Well my first sensei, I got started with him when I was a teenager. He was teaching me Shotokan Karate, Tai Chi, and a couple other disciplines all at one school. His basis, I realized later on was almost like mixed martial arts. We didn’t have that MMA idea, but that was how he did it. We had our stand up, we had our grappling, and had our offense and defense.
AB: At the time I had always been really into martial arts, and my mom never let me do it because she assumed I would turn into a bully if I went into a karate class. So I didn’t get to start until I was a teenager, but it was a very traditional class; which I adapted to. You come in and bow, and it was taught in Japanese. So there were a lot of educational things that came from doing that. I loved that.
AB: When it came to cage fighting and the actual competition of it, I used to think cage fighting was stupid. I didn’t get, because I was in that traditional martial arts class. When I actually started paying attention to cage fighting and MMA, I really just started to eat it up. I started to break it apart and really analyze it and observe what was going on. I started to really digest it, and realized it was something I could do. It was everything that I already knew.
CS: You had an extensive and impressive amateur career, was there anything in particular that stood out during your time as an amateur?
AB: Well I had a really good run for a long time. My best win was off of Jessamyn Duke. When I fought her in Kentucky and took her title belt that was my second fight at 145. But really what would stand out about my amateur career was the weight change that I went through. My very first fight was a non sanctioned fight at 195 lbs.
AB: It was this outdoor, backwoods fight and ever since I started building up to bigger promotions. The biggest thing was the win over Duke; I went pro after that because I couldn’t get anyone to fight me. And the fact that I came from almost 200 pounds all the way down to 145 was pretty big.
CS: After your amateur career what led to the decision to turn professional when you did?
AB: Well when I started going through my amateur career Women’s MMA wasn’t such a huge thing. I wasn’t paying very close attention. I didn’t know that women could go professional with it. I’d always watched the UFC, but I never knew there was a spot available for women. I had no idea. For me it was something that I was just doing for fun, I didn’t really expect to go pro. When I realized that there was something more, I kind of questioned if it was for me.
AB: As time went on, I started to weigh myself on the idea of turning pro, and at the end I wanted it. I went pro faster than I wanted to, because I did want to stay amateur for a little bit longer. It was getting to the point though that it was either go pro or get left behind.
CS: Your first two professional bouts were losses against high level competition, before you rebounded with two wins. What lessons did you learn in those first two losses?
AB: I learned a lot of psychology. That was the biggest thing for me was having those eyes on you compared to being an amateur. It freaked me out. With those two fights, they were fights I felt I could have easily won. I know if I had been smarter about it, I could have won those fights. Psychologically though, I shelled up. I knew that it was something that was going to come into play somewhere in my career. That was part of the reason I was afraid to go pro, I wasn’t confident to do something that big. But in my head, I think I made it something bigger than it needed to be.
AB: That was my biggest lesson, was how to get in there, shut my brain off, and just fight. I learned a lot about what I needed to work on in my game. That first fight against Tamikka [Brents], it intimidated me because I had watched her for so long, and she just finished girls in such a devastating way. She reminded me of me, I felt like I was fighting myself. I told myself that if I couldn’t fight her, how could I fight anyone better or bigger? I just bit the bullet, and went in and it wasn’t as bad as thought it would be. I stood with someone who finished people in the first round, and we went all the way to decision so I started to look at myself as having more ability than I gave myself credit for.
AB: If you can handle a loss, you can come back stronger and better for it.
CS: Your opponent at Invicta FC 9, Maria Hougaard-Djursaa, brings an extensive record into the cage with her. How familiar are you with Djursaa? What are you expecting out the bout?
AB: I don’t know a lot about her. I got word of her being a potential opponent and I sat down and starting doing some research on her. I don’t know a heck of a lot about her career or background, but I have been doing my homework.
AB: I don’t go into the fight thinking what I’ve seen in the past is what she is going to come in with. She might be better than the video I watched or she fixed this or that, but I come in thinking she could be completely different from what I’m studying.
AB: They are probably studying you, so you have to do something different. It’s the yin and the yang.
CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?
AB: My rituals are kind of strange. Music is a big one, but it depends on the type of music. I used to listen to a lot of heavy stuff to get you pumped up, but I realized that it got my energy on a strange frequency. I was as chaotic as the music. I realized the right type of music puts you in the right type of rhythm. My coach teaches that, music we put on at the gym it’s something that keeps us in the right frame of mind without over amping us up.
AB: I have some spiritual rituals that I keep private, but it does have a lot to do with meditation and things that I believe in. I do pay attention to omens, good or bad, so I break them apart and read them. Elements and signs are a big thing I pay attention to. I can feel that beast inside me wake up, and if I don’t I know something is wrong.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
AB: I’ve switched a lot of different coaches since the time I was an amateur to pro. With my coach, Enoch Wilson, I feel like we have a connection. When I get in that cage, it’s like we are synced. He gets that believe it achieve mindset in me. Coach Enoch isn’t super complicated; he’s very simple, very direct. I think that’s what coaches need, is to have that mental connection with their students. That comes from the student trusting the coach, trusting their advice.
CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?
AB: I probably don’t tune in as much as I should. It’s one of those things where if someone has the fights on, I’ll sit and I’ll watch. But I miss more PPV’s than anything; I don’t really watch that much TV. I don’t indulge it too much MMA on the outside. I live, breathe, and sleep this life, so if I am watching a fight it can get me overexcited; like if I am fighting. It’s more than just a mundane sport, it’s a connection, and I feel the fight. Sometimes I have to walk away, because it’s a lot of energy that I expel for no reason at all.
AB: I keep my MMA life my MMA life, and my outside life my outside life. When I come home or go out on the weekends, I don’t really like to talk about it. It also helps me to judge when I meet new people who is worth knowing and who is not. If I throw the fighter thing out there right away, you don’t know if that’s the reason why they want to be friends.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
AB: I used to do a lot more, but I guess the fast pace of the life because of MMA has mellowed me out on the outside. I try to take part in things that are a little more low impact on my mind. I like the longboard, so if I can find an area where the streets are really empty I like to just skate and cruise. I like to sit down and watch movies; just be around people that I love and am friends with.
AB: I think the biggest the thing is I have to sacrifice time with these people, and I like to do things with them when I can. I’ve gotten real into reading, or I will take the bus into downtown and walk around just for the hell of it. I take a lot of quiet time.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
AB: First and foremost I want to say hi to my mom! I put her through hell with all of this, and she has come around a lot since I started doing it.
AB: Thank you to all my friends back in California that I don’t see very often. They are always my biggest supporters and always checking in on me.
AB: Jason Ellis, my manager, of MMA United Sports Entertainment. Him and all those guys have been great to me.
AB: All my teammates, we grind it out together, and support each other. We really try to teach each other.
AB: My sponsors: Unique Kennels, Alkame Water, MMA United, Americana, Bearcat Tactical, US Crane and Hoist, Animals MMA Fitness and Nutrition, and hoping to have NuBreed Nutrition come on for this fight.
AB: My coach Enoch Wilson, a brother from another mother.
AB: Thank you to Shannon Knapp for putting me back into the line of the army she is creating. I owe a lot to her for giving me all I have.
AB: Everyone that has donated to my FundMe page, I want to say thank you to everyone that has supported me there.
AB: Doc Howie XionX band, he’s a great guy, who just started sponsoring me.
AB: All my friends and family that have supported me over the past few years, thank you.
Invicta FC 9 takes place November 1st live from the RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa.
Tickets are on sale via the Ticketmaster link below.
The full card will air live via UFC Fight Pass. Click below to subscribe to UFC FightPass.