Being a mixed martial artist is far from glamorous, and the training is grueling.
Hours are spent learning takedowns, evasive maneuvers and how to recover from kicks and jabs to the face as well as building up the stamina to endure three, 5-minute rounds.
But the eight Twin Wolves MMA fighters traveling to Houma, La., to battle it out at the “Caged Warrior Championship 3” on Saturday are ready.
“If they weren’t prepared, I wouldn’t put them in the cage,” said Hector Ruiz, owner of the Twin Wolves MMA Studio in Harker Heights.
Despite being a male-dominated sport, female fighters can hold their own in the cage and Ruiz is bringing three to compete.
Cat Genarro, 32, and Jessica McCormick, 32, will fight in their debut matches, along with Faith Charsauros, 34, who is looking for her first win.
“I started training in September, and one day after class I was looking at all the guys and I decided I could do that and here I am today,” McCormick said. “I’m a little bit nervous and a little bit excited.”
Dubbed “twinkle toes” by her gym mates, her strength lies in her powerhouse kicks and how effortlessly she can maneuver around her opponent.
For Genarro, it’s all about the “take down” and the “ground and pound.”
“I’m nervous, yeah, but if you are not a little nervous, something is wrong,” she said.
Genarro has been training for the past three years and has been looking forward to her debut fight.
“I’ve been doing three-a-days: running three miles in the morning, training in here and lifting weights,” she said of her prep. “I’m training four to five hours a day, with no days off. I know I am ready.”
Twin Wolves fighters compete once a month in grappling tournaments, Muay Tai and boxing smokers.
Mixed martial arts, better known as MMA, is said to be one of the fastest-growing sports around. The term was coined due to the various disciplines of martial arts employed in the sport, including karate, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, grappling, wrestling and sumo, among others.
Ruiz said most of the 150-plus students at Twin Wolves train in the MMA style for fitness reasons rather than aspiring to get in the cage.
“They like the way MMA fighters look,” he said. “They want to look like them, and they want to train like them,” he said adding that only 10 percent of his students want to get in the cage.
Since the gym opened in 2007, the Twin Wolves studio has expanded to a new facility at 704 Edwards Drive in Harker Heights. Call 254-338-1032.