Continuing with the tradition of sharing the stories of a few fighters on Tuff N Uff's January 24th fight card, we're going to take a walk to the side of Woman's MMA. Tuff N Uff has bred solid foundations in fighters as Amateurs building their way up to professional promotions and even the UFC, such as Ronda Rousey. …Our next interviewee is no exception. Cheyanne Vlismas, "The Warrior Princess", is ready for war. After an unfotunate injury causing her original opponent to back out of the card, she's re-matched up and ready to bring an exciting fight to the Tuff N Uff banner come the 24th!
Jason Przewoznik: Cheyanne, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. I like opening up my interviews by learning more about the men and women behind the gloves so we can get a better understanding of who we are watching step into the cage; care to tell us a little bit about life growing up for young Cheyanne and what led you into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Hey there! My life growing up as a kid; I was always a sweetheart to everyone I carried around my little pink bible everywhere (lol), but at the age of 3, I found a love to martial arts because of the movie The Karate Kid. My father was a former boxer and he knew head no choice other than to start me up in Karate. By the age of 4, I was running around the house trying to fight everybody, especially my sister.
I stayed in karate till age of 7, then we moved a little ways away. Finally getting settled in by age 8, I started up again, but this time Tae Kwon Do. By the age of 9, I was on the demonstration team and by 10 I was a volunteer instructor. I sustained my black belt by age 12. I kept teaching, but I also started up cheerleading in middle school. I stayed a cheerleader from 8th grade till all the way to my senior year in high school and was also an all-star competitive cheerleader for Cheer Express Allstars, winning nationals my last year till I had to stop due to a dislocationing my elbow and got a mental block. While all of that was going on, I was still in Tae Kwon Do, but at the age of 14, I decided to quit Tae Kwon Do and try something else. I loved to spar, so I looked up Mixed Martial Arts; I wanted to try something new. I looked up a local school and found one called Omega Mixed Martial Arts in Clearwater, FL. I stayed there for 2 years and the cool thing about that school was it was mainly a Tae Kwon Do school, so I was teaching those classes there! After the 2 years of being there and teaching, it killed me to go but, I knew if I wanted to fight, I needed to step up my training. I left my junior year and my senior year in high school I was bullied pretty bad by some of the cheerleaders on the squad. It got to the point where I had enough and retaliated. The principle knew of my background in the Martial Arts and expelled me from the school. 'Til this day, I can't understand why if bullying is such a big deal, why give the one being bullied the punishment? …But this all worked out in my favor. Even though I was not allowed to participate in anything my senior year; no more cheerleading, no dances, prom, senior awards… no more flag football that I got MVP for junior year – I was very depressed. But I tried finishing school on virtual, but it got to stressful for me. Waking up at 6:30 AM, staying on a computer until 2pm, going to work, then to training.
My parents told me I should get my general education and take all this anger and train my butt off and prove nothing can bring me down. I started light weights training 3x a day. I got new training camps and the week I turned 18, I took a fight against 33-year old Olympic Wrestler, Ingrid Medrano; lost by decision and kept pushing. Now I am training with her for my strength and conditioning, Robson Moura for my BJJ and my home gym UFC Gym Clearwater for my Muay Thai. I've had quite a journey so far and I'm still going.
Jason Przewoznik: Wow, that definitely is quite the journey! Kind of funny, as a kid I got teased for carrying my little bible and cross in my backpack, fortunately the bible wasn't pink though! (haha) – you have quite the story and a pretty extensive background in some form of martial arts; what was the experience like moving from a background of defensive arts such as TKD and Karate to a more intense training such as a complete MMA gym?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Switching from Karate to TKD wasn't much of a difference for me. Karate is more about forms and technique and Tae Kwon Do was more kicks, ALOT OF KICKS (lol) and self defense, which I liked more. The switch for Karate and TKD to MMA was a huge difference there were times when I would want to give up in the Jiu Jitsu because I would always get tapped out by these guys. I was the only girl in the gym for the MMA classes. I kept trying, I liked the flow of the ground work. It was different for me, but I always got frustrated. After I did my first tournament, 6 months into training, that's when I found my love for it. Weird, but true.
Jason Przewoznik: I could understand that completely; training is rough, especially when green, but when you see your potential unfold in a tournament style – it sheds a completely new light and discipline in the arts. You have mentioned that you had a fight at 18 years old, although experiencing a loss, you knew this is what you wanted to do… Care to share a bit about how you felt and the experience of stepping into the cage for the first time?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Yes, I had my first fight 4 days after I turned 18 and lost via decision. I came back a month and a half later and won my second fight by first round arm bar to a US Marine who looked like a straight man (lol) …then I fought a month after that and won via decision, but then the opponent challenged the tape which came back as a draw. A month after that, I had my first kick boxing fight and won by dominant decision; which was a great experience for me because it brought me back to the Tae Kwon Do days and competing and doing my sparring matches. After that I fought again a month later and won by first round arm bar again and then 2 days after that fight, I got asked to fight for Tuff N Uff on 8 days notice for a title fight at 105. I am a 115lb. fighter and I took the fight knowing I wasn't prepared for her, but I couldn't turn down this opportunity. I had to cut 20 pounds in 8 days. The hardest weight cut I've ever had to do; I passed out in the sauna, the doctor had to see me, I told her I don't care I came up here to fight. I wasn't myself in the fight, I was weak and unprepared, but you can't turn down a opportunity like that. Now I'm going back to fight for Tuff N Uff next week and this time I'm very well prepared. I am excited to go do what I love. I'm very young in this sport, I'm still 18 with 6 fights under me and unlike most people, I'm not rushing to go pro for a little while.
Jason Przewoznik: Well that's respectable, there's no need to jump into the professional fighting game (besides the pay) when you are still learning to master your game. I do want to dive into the details of your upcoming fight, but would like to know a bit more about your current training situation (home gym, how often you're training etc).
Cheyanne Vlismas: My training right now; I'm with 3 different camps. My home gym is my Muay Thai school, UFC Gym-Clearwater… I also work there teaching kids kick boxing. Other schools are AOL MMA which is with American Olympic Team Ingrid Medrano, my first opponent being my wrestling coach and her husband Beijing olympion Frankie C. being my judo and strength and conditioning coach and my other camp is my BJJ school, Robson Moura one of the best in the world. I'm training everyday, 3 times a day. Morning cardio, wrestling, and muay thai some days… Then cardio and BJJ other days. I get no days off mon-sun, but now that it is close to fight night, I get Saturdays off (lol) and train 2-times a day light.
Jason Przewoznik: Haha, and as an 18 year old, full-time fighter; what would you say is your biggest motivating factor in this sport?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Motivating factor would be I'm young with talent and with the right mind set that can take me far, that always keeps me going.
Jason Przewoznik: Excellent, do you currently have any goals that you'd wish to accomplish, say in the next 5 years?
Cheyanne Vlismas: My goals just to be the best fighter in every aspect I can be. And one day open my own gym.
Jason Przewoznik: That's great, hopefully in the future I can do my part by promoting this said gym! One more question before I dive into your upcoming news… For aspiring fighters beginning their journey to the cage such as yours, do you have any advice for them from what you've experienced so far?
Cheyanne Vlismas: For young fighters, all I can say to them is just have fun with it. We have a whole career ahead of us if you play it right.
Jason Przewoznik: Definitely agree; if you're not laughing, you're not living – and if you aren't enjoying the life you live, find another route! Alright… Let's get into your next fight, which happens to be a few days away: January 24th. A few questions; How has Tuff N Uff treated you and how has your experience been with them? …. Also there's been a little issue with your fight, tell us about that and what's changed since the original fight card, did this effect your training at all?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Tuff n Uff has been great I love the way it is set up and ran smoothly. And yes I have 3 different switch ups with opponents. But either way I'm mentally and physically ready for anyone they put in front of me. I think as a fighter after having at least 5 fights you should not care who is put in front of you. And my training I'm training everything I have 4 camps I have everything I need for this one. I'm coming prepared.
Jason Przewoznik: So you're definitely prepared to bring a battle to the cage on the 24th; I like to see that! Even when changing opponents, you stay prepared and ready to bring your A-game. We're at about a question a day with your busy schedule and I do not want to hold you up too much… Is there anything you'd like to share or any special thanks you'd like to say? Also, is there a contact in case anyone would be interested in sponsoring you or booking you for a fight?
Cheyanne Vlismas: Nope I think I've said enough (haha)! And yes you can contact my coach dom via Facebook name being Dom Muay Thai or email my sponsorship manager Maria Elizabeth at: email@example.com
Jason Przewoznik: Awesome, thanks a bunch Cheyanne and sending you the best of luck for your upcoming fight!
Cheyanne Vlismas: Thank you for your time!!
You can purchase tickets or the iPPV for Cheyanne's upcoming fight @ www.tuffnuff.com