Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak will enter the Invicta cage on April 5th against Brazilian veteran Vanessa Porto to crown the first Invicta Flyweight Champion.
A well rounded and tough fighter out of the famed Milletich Fighting Systems in Iowa, Honchak is currently riding a six fight win streak into her showdown with Porto at Invicta FC 5. Honchak earned wins at both Invicta FC 2 and 3, and is looking forward to becoming the first flyweight champion in Invicta history on April 5th.
Corey Smith: You have quite the extensive amateur MMA record, even taking on Jessica Eye early on in both your careers. Was it important to you to have a certain amount of experience before turning pro?
Barb Honchak: I wasn’t counting the number of fights I had or anything along those lines. I think there is a point in one’s amateur career when it just becomes difficult to find fights. That is what really determined when I turned pro.
CS: You moved to the Quad Cities area when your husband received a job offer, and it turned out to be a double blessing when you joined Miletich Fighting Systems in Iowa. What is the atmosphere like at such a famed gym?
BH: The atmosphere is great. There are many up and coming fighters at the gym as well as veterans with a strong team atmosphere.
CS: You have spoken about the new skills you have learned at MFS. Can you expand on that a bit and tell us what you have learned there?
BH: There are quite a few fighters at MFS with extensive experience, which brings a lot of knowledge. I have learned a lot of new techniques and philosophies about fighting from them. Sometimes its just small details that make a huge difference, and that is one thing only experience can provide.
CS: You also mentioned in the past that there are several women in your weight class at MFS for you to train with and how big of an advantage that is for you. What makes training with another woman better than with a male fighter?
BH: Women are smaller, more flexible and quick. They rely on skill and technique rather than strength. So training with them has an entirely different feel than training with men. I wouldn’t say that it is better or worse, just different.
CS: You declined an invite to fight at the inaugural Invicta show because of the same move that brought you to MFS. How important to you was it to be comfortable with your new coaches before taking a fight? Do you still feel it was the right decision?
BH: I feel it is important to know my coaches and team, but also for them to know me. I want my corners to know what I am capable of. Yes, it was the right decision.
CS: When preparing for their opponents, most female athletes have spoken on the fact that there usually is not much video of their opponents fights. Is that still fairly common or has that improved?
BH: It changes for each opponent. For my first fight with Invicta against Bethany Marshall, I had very little video. But when I fought Aisling Daly, I had plenty of footage.
CS: You picked up wins at Invicta 2 and 3. After each win you also picked up more fans and attention. What has that part of your career been like?
BH: The fans are amazing and I am grateful for them. I wouldn’t have a job without them. I haven’t really noticed much difference in the amount of attention I get. I suppose I don’t really look into that very much.
CS: What do you think a promotion like Invicta FC means for the sport?
BH: I believe Invicta FC saved the sport for women. I felt like the shows supporting us were really on the outs before them. Now Invicta is women’s MMA. This is the show females should aspire to be on.
CS: At Invicta FC 5 you are fighting Vanessa Porto for the inaugural Flyweight title. What would a win mean to you?
BH: The title would be amazing. What more could a competitor ask for than being recognized at the best? It is what I aspire to be.
CS: Your opponent, Vanessa Porto brings a wealth of experience against high level opponents into the cage with here. What do you think will be your biggest challenge in that fight?
BH: Vanessa is a very well rounded opponent and I expect her to be very strong physically. I believe Vanessa has many tools on her feet and on the ground and I expect our fight to be an absolute battle.
CS: I read that you are a big fan of the Silent Hill video games. Are you a big video game fan in general or only with select titles? What else do you do to unwind after a long day of training camp?
BH: Ha, yes that is a phase I went through. I really don’t play that many games. I tend to be a bit of a homebody. My husband and I started to learn to sail last summer and I spend a lot of time with my dogs, hiking or playing outside.
CS: Most fighters list the weight cut as the hardest part of MMA. Aside from that, what do you consider the hardest part?
BH: The time away from friends and family would be the hardest part. There are many times I would like to do things with or for them, but can not because of training.
CS: Lastly, MMA is equally a team sports as it is an individual sport. Who would you like to thank?
BH: I have so many people to thank:
Mike Reddish, Eli Shetler, Junior Hernandez, Pat Miletich, all my teammates and coaches at MFS, Josh Howat and Brandon Adamson from BPS, Steve Berger and all my former coaches and teammates from Berger MMA, Jay Damato, Brett Atchley and Addison Sports Management, Sam Wilson, Slade Bittler, Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, Cat Zingano, all of my sponsors and last but certainly not least, my husband Timm Beeman.