Analytical mind Jenny Liou Shriver debuts for Invicta FC Novermber 1st at Invicta FC 9, squaring off against fellow Strawweight Jamie Moyle.
Corey Smith: You began studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at age ten. Were you training on a consistent basis from that point on?
Jenny Liou Shriver: I started training Jiu Jitsu consistently after I graduated from college. Until then, track was always my primary sport, and BJJ was one of a handful of sports in the background.
CS: Along with BJJ, you were also an elite level track and field star, earning a college scholarship for your skill. What parallels are there between track and BJJ?
JLS: Both running and BJJ require immense amounts of mental toughness and cardiovascular conditioning. But I think my favorite thing about BJJ is that it’s very different from running.
JLS: By the time my college running career ended, I felt that I had found my limits as a track and field athlete. Jiu Jitsu is such an intricate sport, and one to which I can really apply my scholar’s curiosity. It feels endless to me. I’m always learning. I love that.
CS: For many years, your only combat sport experience was with BJJ. When a nearby gym needed a sparring partner, you volunteered and fell in love with other aspects of MMA. What was that experience like for you?
JLS: My transition into MMA was immensely humbling. When I started taking Jiu Jitsu seriously, the movements came to me almost automatically, maybe partly through natural inclination, but I also think my years of dabbling in BJJ familiarized me with the sport’s cadences and basic motions. Especially at first, striking wasn’t like that.
JLS: As you can probably imagine, I felt like a total badass when I realized I could submit a pro fighter my very first time in the cage. But at the same time, I realized immediately how much she, and the rest of my training partners had to teach me.
JLS: Also, the black eyes I got in that first sparring session didn’t show up immediately. I left the gym exhilarated and rushed back to UC Irvine to teach an English class. Midway through, I realized that my students were looking at me with strange faces, and it wasn’t until I got home and looked in the mirror that I realized why. That took a little explaining.
CS: You parlayed your college education into an eventual PhD in English. What form has your career taken in that area?
JLS: I teach English at Northwest Indian College. It’s rewarding work, but let me be frank—for a long time during graduate school, I balanced the demands of being a combat athlete with the demands of my PhD work. Right now, I want to see how far I can follow my dreams in the cage. I figure the scholarly pursuits will still be there when my fighting career’s over.
JLS: In addition to my other classes, I get to teach MMA classes at Northwest Indian College. That’s a dream come true. I actually get to say, “OK class, let’s just finish up reading this sonnet, then grab your gloves and let’s head to the gym.”
CS: After signing with Invicta FC, what goals do you have within the organization? How has your experience been like thus far with the company?
JLS: My first experience with Invicta was watching IFC 1 and wishing I could be on it. Now that I’m here, I want to climb Invicta’s Strawweight rankings and win the belt. Invicta has done so much to build women’s MMA. I’m honored to be part of what they do.
CS: Your opponent on November 1st at Invicta FC 9, Jamie Moyle will be making her professional debut that night. Do you view this as any kind of advantage? What do you believe is the key to your matchup?
JLS: I’m not predicting or hoping for any psychological weakness on Jamie’s part. I think the fighters who come up through Tuff-N-Uff are already equipped with many of the skills that the rest of us have to pick up as pros.
JLS: And anyways, I don’t want to beat her on an off-day. I want to beat her in the best fight of her career. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jamie, but I don’t think she’s ever been tested in the cage against a highly skilled grappler. Also, I’m a much bigger Strawweight than she is. I’m curious as to what she’ll do when she realizes she can’t throw me around. It’s going to be fun.
CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?
JLS: I don’t have any fight night routines or superstitions. I like to stay as relaxed as possible. I usually warm up aggressively, and pretty early, with a lot of cardio and some snappy mittwork. And then I like to go regain my calm. I always wish that time would just disappear. I don’t like waiting.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
JLS: My coach, Frank Arnett, will be in my corner. I tend to think of my corner as an additional pair of eyes. I want to hear whether or not I’m likely winning the round, and how much time is left.
JLS: I also like knowing if there’s some crucial piece of the game I’m not seeing—whether it’s a defensive error I’m making, or an opening in my opponent’s game that I should capitalize on.
JLS: I like my corner to be calm and precise. I don’t like a lot of talk between rounds. Unless there’s something major to communicate, I view that minute as a time to calm down and to regain my center.
CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?
JLS: I watch a lot of MMA, but for me, there is no such thing as watching it purely for enjoyment. Or rather, the most enjoyable thing about watching MMA is seeing slick moves and learning them for myself. I love GIFs. They let me watch the same little detail over and over until not just the motions, but their cadences are seared into my brain.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
JLS: I have a ridiculous number of hobbies, and one of the hardest things about committing to fighting was putting some of my other passions on hold. I like riding mountain bikes and climbing and getting out on backpacking trips in Idaho’s mountains. I’m a haphazard but happy telemark skier, and I play the guitar just well enough to sing sad country songs.
JLS: I’ve had to put my craft beer and whiskey interests on hold, but I have been indulging in some cinematic obsessions. I’m rewatching Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly,” and I’m making my way though Hayao Miyazaki’s anime masterpieces.
JLS: And I’m always reading. I never go anywhere without a book.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
I’d like to thank my coach and teammates at Team Execution in Lewiston, Idaho and my manager Chris Vender.
JLS: Many thanks also to Rosa Freitas and Sam Wilson who have been my friends and allies in the WMMA world. I’d like to thank Angelo Todaro for getting me on weight and in shape for November 1st.
JLS: A big thanks to Machina Boxing and Halfbreed Clothing Company for keeping me geared up and dressed up for training.
JLS: And lastly, boundless gratitude to Phil Shriver, who has been the best training partner imaginable for a very long time, and the best husband imaginable since we got married in July.
Invicta FC 9 takes place November 1st live from the RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa. The full card will air live via UFC Fight Pass. Click below to subscribe to UFC FightPass.
Tickets will go on sale at the following link later this week.