From being the kickboxing world champion to facing Ronda ‘Rowdy’ Rousey in her debut MMA match, the current Invicta FC Featherweight Charmaine “Not so sweet” Tweet has come a long way. Charmaine Tweet always wanted to get into boxing, and went on to becoming the world champion in kickboxing, and later made a transition to Mixed Martial Arts. With Invicta FC reaching an agreement with UFC for streaming their fights on UFC Fight Pass, the UFC fans will get to see her fight live on September 6th.
My colleague Ratish Menon and I caught up with Charmaine to talk about her kickboxing and MMA careers, her first fight with Ronda, what she thought about Cyborg challenging the current UFC women’s Bantamweight champion, and also her time in India, when she fought for Super Fight League (SFL). Charmaine was gracious enough to have taken 40 minutes out of her day, and below is an excerpt from the interview.
Ratish Menon: You trained with Duke Roofus, who is a legendary figure in the Kickboxing world. Tell us about your time training with Duke at his gym and do you still train there?
Charmaine Tweet: I started with Duke in 2001 and trained with him till 2005. I used to teach a bit there, when I first started teaching there. I was really shy and didn’t talk a whole lot, and that has to change when you’re teaching people (Laughs). I am so thankful that I started there. You see so many people who don’t start at that level and learn from instructors who aren’t at Duke’s level, and it’s so hard to watch (them fight), because they’re not learning the basics and fundamentals. I used to go to places and people would use thigh pads and they wouldn’t even know how to hold pads! I am thankful that’s where I learnt, because I did; I learnt a super good base from Duke. I was sad that I had to leave the gym, with the move back to Canada, and there wasn’t much choice. At least I got that super good base, and I was able to build from there. If I hadn’t gotten that, who knows where I’d be right now?
Akhilesh Gannavarapu: In your debut MMA match, you went in against Ronda Rousey who is the face of women’s MMA in the world. What are your memories of the match and of her?
CT: Ronda and I actually didn’t have a lot to do with each other. Ronda didn’t make it to the weigh – ins because she had some problems with her passport and getting into the country. We ended up doing the weigh – in at one o’clock in the morning, and the only time we were face to face was during the fight, so we were standing across the cage from one another. It was interesting, because we didn’t particularly like each other. I’ve heard Ronda being asked about opponents she didn’t like, and there were basically two – It was me and Miesha Tate (Laughs). But what had happened was, we had tried for months to find a fighter for me, and just because of my kickboxing pedigree, which was good, but wasn’t super stellar like those who’ve had over 100 fights. I’ve had 13 fights, but that was it, and two world championships. So no one was ready to fight and that was when Ronda Rousey was on her way to superstardom. She wasn’t there yet, you know? So she was just another girl. So she signed up for the fight, and that was at the same time Gina Carano was supposed to make a comeback and fight Sarah D’Alelio in Strikeforce. It was supposed to happen sometime soon after my fight with Ronda, so Ronda and I were scheduled to fight. So a week out, Carano pulled out of the fight, and my husband was like, “Oh, I’ll be getting a call now!” and fair enough, the promoter gave us a call, and said they were interested in Ronda fighting Sarah, and asked me what I thought. I said, “No, absolutely not”, because we were just a week away from my fight with Ronda, because they would not be able to find another girl for me. We had signed a contract so unless better things come along, you do not let things go and let Ronda fight for Strikeforce. And that’s when it went really sour and got really heated between Ronda’s manager and my manager, but Ronda did call my house and begged me to let her go to Strikeforce because it was her dream. So I said Strikeforce will be there even after I beat you, and if I win, I can probably get into Strikeforce (Laughs). She had 4 or 6 straight arm bar victories by then, and she didn’t particularly like me for that reason.
RM: The hot-button topic for the past year or so has been the perceived rivalry between Ronda, the UFC champ and your fellow Invicta FC teammate, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, the Featherweight champion. Do you think that fight will ever take place and who would your money be on?
CT: I would put my money on Cris for sure. She’s an animal, and wow, I don’t think Ronda could handle the bruises that Cris will be dealing out. Especially given that Ronda hasn’t been beaten by a striker who just doesn’t let up, and everyone who fought her (Cris) knows that she just doesn’t let up. It’s just a constant barrage, so I would definitely put my money on Cris. Do I think it’s going to happen? Possibly, hopefully, maybe eventually. Maybe at the end of Ronda’s career, when no one is scared of her, and she has nothing to lose (Laughs).
AG: Talking about Cris facing Ronda, as a fighter, do you think it would be healthy for Cris to cut down to 135?
CT: Honestly, I don’t think it is healthy for most girls who are fighting at 135 to cut down to 135. I’ve always taken a sharp stance against cutting down to 135. I fight at 145 because I have to, and I’ve also fought at 155 and 160 in my kickboxing career, and I was pretty happy there. As I said, I don’t think it’s healthy for most girls to cut down to 135, including Ronda herself. Yeah she’s a bit shorter, and Cris is shorter too, but she’s a muscular girl, and she’d lose a lot of muscle mass (if she cuts down to 135). We were talking about it last week, and I said if Cris cuts down to 135, she will lose a lot of muscle. What else is she going to lose, bone density? There’s not a lot of fat on this woman, so it has to be muscle mass. Those are terrible things to your metabolism, so I don’t think it’s healthy for her. Do I think if she can do it? Yeah, probably, with the right diet, but as I said, it isn’t healthy for anybody. As far as I’m concerned, we should all be fighting at our natural weight.
We also talked about various things such as Invicta FC being telecasted on UFC Fight Pass, what she thought about Ronda beating Davis at UFC 175 and much more. You can follow Charmaine on Twitter and on Facebook, and be sure to support her for her fights on UFC Fight Pass, staring on September 6th, along with her first boxing match in August.
You can hear the full interview here.
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