Inspired by Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano’s bout in 2009, Invicta Bantamweight Kelly McGill believes she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. First up; defeating Maegan Goodwin at Invicta FC 9 November 1st.
Corey Smith: Your first foray into martial arts came at age fifteen when you dabbled in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. How were those first few years for you? What were your initial struggles?
Kelly McGill: The first few years of just jiu jitsu was awesome. Jiu jitsu will always be my first love. I learned a lot and it definitely helped discipline me as a teenager. Since starting the sport I have become a lot more respectful and self motivated. My initial struggles starting out with just jiu jitsu was how technical it all was.
KM: It definitely isn’t like kickboxing where you can kind of make it your own, you have to do the move right otherwise it doesn’t work. Eventually as you become more experienced you can make jiu jitsu somewhat your own style, but in the beginning remembering hand placement and body positioning was very new to me and challenging.
KM: Also I think getting use to training with mostly males was something very new and different for me.
CS: You have stated that Cyborg v. Carano in 2009 was a catalyst for your belief that MMA must be a lifestyle for you to be successful. What led you to that conclusion?
KM: I really admired Cris Cyborg’s work ethic and self discipline. Cyborg was definitely the reason I wanted to try mixed material arts just because you could see all her hard work pay off in her fights.
KM: Watching the Cyborg vs Carano fight kind of set this “girl power” thing in my mind and I knew that I could do anything I could set my mind to and I thought MMA would definitely be something fun to try out.
CS: How long did your amateur career last? What were the main lessons you learned during that time?
KM: I only had 3 fights as an amateur over a five month time period. I was literally going training camp to training camp. By doing that I learned a lot about myself, such as how much drive, determination, and competiveness I actually have in me.
KM: I also learned fight at Flyweight was way too hard of a weight cut for me and was taking a toll on me and decided to move up to Bantamweight. Most of all, I learned just how much work fighting actually takes and the enjoyment it brings me.
CS: Amateur MMA can be a bit of a mixed bag. Were there any strange or unusual events that occurred during your amateur career?
KM: My second amateur fight was suppose to be at Bantamweight (135), but 24 hours before weigh ins my opponent backed out and they found me a replacement, which I was grateful for, but the fight would have to be at Flyweight (125). So, in 24 hours I dropped ten pounds and I did make weight on time. That was definitely an experience I will always remember because of how torturous it was. Besides that and lack of finding opponents, nothing too crazy happened.
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?
KM: I have a lot of goals I hope to accomplish throughout my Invicta FC career. Of course, become bantamweight weight champion someday. I hope to drastically improve myself each fight throughout this journey.
KM: I hope to become a positive influence to those watching. But as of right now, all I am focused on is my fight on November 1st.
KM: Working with Invicta FC has truly been a dream come true. I literally cried the day Shannon called me because of how much of a dream come true this is for me. Everybody that works with Invicta FC has been so amazing and welcoming toward me and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
CS: Your opponent at Invicta FC, Maegan Goodwin, will be making her professional debut. How familiar are you with Goodwin? What are you expecting out of the bout on November 1st?
KM: I’m not too familiar with Maegan, I have watched a couple videos on her but I don’t really like to focus too much on what my opponent is going to do, rather what I am going to do.
KM: Fighters change and grow after each fight so strictly focusing on video or what she is up to is kind of pointless because I am assuming she has improved since that fight, which could mean her style is different.
KM: The only thing I know for sure is this is the first time I will be fighting somebody taller than me, which I am honestly extremely thrilled about, for the fact that people will be able to see that I have so much more to me than my reach as seen in previous fights, so I am very excited and thrilled to be faced with this height disadvantage challenge.
KM: I’m expecting the fight to stay standing majority, if not the whole fight. It seems like she wants to hit me or something. Haha. Regardless where the fight goes I feel very well prepared. I predict it will definitely be one of the best fights on the card. I am expecting it to be a fun fight!
CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?
KM: I like to be very calm the whole day of the fight. I don’t treat it any differently than a regular day. I like to think of it as just another day at the gym. As the fight comes close the day of the fight I like to joke around and just have a good time.
KM: I’m not one who gets angry or upset to fight, I just like to be how I am on every other day. I like to use the same bag to carry all my stuff in, I don’t know if that counts as a superstition or not. Besides that, not really.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
KM: My corner men for my last fight were amazing. I had my father/manager, Devin McGill, my head coach, Professor Tom Theofanopoulos, and my boyfriend/trainer, Rolando Velasco in my corner.
KM: This time in my corner I will just have Professor Tom and my boyfriend Rolando Velasco in my corner. Throughout my whole camp I prefer criticism in a nice way. I have to have positive feedback, otherwise I have breakdowns like Jessica Penne did on TUF this season. I am a very emotional person and extremely hard on myself so I prefer positive feedback majority of the time.
CS: You have spoken about how important it is for you to be a positive role model for others. Many athletes try to distance themselves from such a role. Why do you embrace it?
KM: I am by no means saying that everybody should look up to me because I am such a good influence, because I am human, I have made mistakes just like everyone else. What I meant by that is I believe God has given me these opportunities as a platform to spread his word and encourage others.
KM: I hope to not only show the younger generations the word of God, but also show them that anything is possible if you work hard. I truly adore kids, I am going to school to be a special education teacher, so any opportunity I get to talk to kids, I’m all for it.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
KM: Besides training, work, and school, I love just spending time with my family and boyfriend. Movie nights with the family and my boyfriend or his family is my favorite thing to do.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
KM: First and foremost, I would like to thank God for providing me these opportunities and all the amazing people in my life.
KM: I would like to thank everybody at Oakdale, Sonora, and Merced MMA who have not only helped me for this fight, but have helped me from the beginning.
KM: I want to thank Professor Tom and his wife Lori for treating me like their own and always believing in me.
KM: I would also like to thank Full Force Personal Training in Modesto for getting me strong and ready for all my fights.
KM: A huge thank you to my boyfriend/main training partner, Rolando Velasco, for helping me prepare for all my fights, even when he has a fight of his own to prepare for, he has provided me with not just the technical aspect of the sport, but the mental aspect as well.
KM: I want to give a special thank you to my parents who have always supported me and helped me throughout this journey.
KM: Last but definitely not least, a huge thank you to Shannon Knapp for having me join the Invicta FC family, I am truly honored to be apart of this organization.
KM: To keep in touch and follow my journey, follow me on Twitter: @KillerKellyMMA
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.