As a fan and writer I am guilty of the cardinal sin of focusing on superstars who have already arrived and only glancing at some of the hot prospects coming up through the ranks. In an effort to atone for such behavior I’m turning my focus to an amazing WMMA fighter, Katlyn Chookagian.
Katlyn has never tasted defeat as a either a pro or amateur. She just had her first fight in WSOF on the same card where Marlon Moraes fought a catch-weight battle with Cody Bollinger.
Take a moment to listen to what this fighter has to say because it’s not going to be too much longer before she hits the “big time”.
Aaron Robbins: Hey Katlyn! Thanks for talking with me. How about we start by having you tell the fans about yourself and how you ended up in MMA?
Katlyn Chookagian: “Ok, I grew up in Quakertown Pennsylvania and I started Karate when I was four years old. My older brother did it, and I always tried to do what he did, so that’s how I got involved in martial arts. In High School I started boxing, and no Gi grappling. When I was 16 I won the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves and I also won a tri-state kickboxing title. Throughout college I continued doing some no Gi grappling, and I was competing in both boxing and kickboxing. I started training at Renzo Gracie BJJ and took a year and a half off from stand up, and when I met my head coach, Jamal Patterson, at Allstar BJJ we started putting it all together and I got into MMA.”
AR: Tell us about your amateur MMA record.
KC: “I went 7-0 I won three different titles, one in New Jersey, one in Louisiana, and one in Ohio. I fought as much as I could, seven times in 13 months. My coach and I were definitely on the grind. I was trying to pick up as much experience as I could in the amateur ranks before I went pro. When you go pro there aren’t as many fighters in each division, so your career can kind of go fast.”
AR: Ok wow, seven fights in just over a year! When did you turn pro, and how has that gone for you?
KC: “I turned pro in June of 2014, my first one was with Cage Fury and my second one was in the World Series of Fighting. I fought Brigitte Narcise in my WSOF fight. She had a Sambo background. She was a strong grappler, but I train at Renzo Gracie’s so I go with strong grapplers every day. I was a lot taller than her, so I used my reach to keep her at distance. In the third round I was able to get a TKO with knee strikes. When she was trying for a take-down I shot a knee up and connected and was able to get the win that way. Coming from Renzo’s everybody assumes it’s going to be a grappling match, but I have a lot of stand-up experience and I’m comfortable no matter where the fight goes.”
AR: While we are on the subject of training at Gracie’s camp, tell us about your camp and training partners.
KC: “I feel like I’m so lucky and there is no reason for me not to continue to improve because of all the people I’m surrounded by every day. I train half the time at Renzo Gracie’s in the city, I have Sapo (Rafael Natal), Renzo Gracie, and John Danaher is there. I also train at their affiliate with Ricardo Almeida in New Jersey and it’s just a room full of stars there, Frankie Edgar, Edson Barbosa, I’m surrounded by people who have been in the sport for a long time. I try to pick up on what they do, their habits. I try to mimic them, and I feel that’s what is leading to my success. I feel like I learn every day.”
AR: Being surrounded by a talent pool that deep, I think it would be impossible not to get better.
KC: “Exactly, and they are all so humble. Frankie will fight and the next week he is in the ring sparring with the other guys. Everybody takes time to give me sparring rounds and prepare me for my fights. I’m super grateful for everybody I train with.”
AR: What’s next for you?
KC: “I’m just going to try and stay active and fight as much as I can. I don’t like to take time off. I fought on Saturday and on Monday I was back in the gym doing no Gi grappling. I live in the gym; I just want to keep going. The goal is to get another fight before the end of the year, so hopefully I’ll get the call for November or December. That would be really nice.”
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Main Photo provided by Katlyn Chookagian