Sheena Starr is a rising Mixed Martial Artist hailing from Michigan. This woman has fight in her blood, not only competition, with over 30 bouts under her belt, but has also fought and defeated Thyroid cancer! Those that personally, professionally, or even those that know Sheena through social media; know that she is outspoken and an all around awesome person. While most of our Q&As are cut and dry when it comes to getting answers out of fighters, Sheena let us know that she wasn't going to hold back let us into her world. She wanted to be as in-depth as possible and finally tell her story with the guidance of our template and we are excited to share it with you, as it's definitely an interesting one! Keep an eye out for Sheena as she continues her MMA career with a current amatuer record of 18-12-1 fighting across 4 different weight classes (110 ,115, 125, 135)
Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up and what was life like growing up? (Family, school, friends)
I grew up in south east Michigan. I lived in a few places, seeing we moved a few times.. And well, life growing up wasn't full of rainbows and unicorns like I see many of these interviews. My mother was a hard working lady she was always gone and well, my dad really wasn't there, even when he was. He had a drinking problem, leaving me to care for myself and my two younger brothers most of the time. I had a lot of responsibility at a young age; I never was able to go to school functions or school dances or anything like that. Any friends I did have were close or on my street. Seeing I had to take my siblings with me everywhere I went, it wasn't until my last few years of high school when I had a bit of freedom. I was a band dork. I played the drums and it felt great to belong and be a part of something like other kids. I felt normal then.
Were you involved in any sports as a youth in or outside of school?
I ran cross country and track and field and played softball, but was unable to become competitive until my high school years because I had to be home to help there.
What is your favorite child-hood memory?
Building forts and huts with my brothers and friends in a small patch of woods behind our house, it was like spending time in another world. Being in the city, there wasn't much woods, so playing in there was great… taking a break and escaping and using our imaginations. Kind of like our own bridge to Tarabithia!
Any interesting child-hood stories and/or fun facts?
When I was born my hips were displaced/out of socket and I was in a brace for some time. I was not able to walk well until I was almost three years old… But I can twist in a pretzel and I can scorpion kick! lol
Getting involved in MMA:
How did you get involved?
My ex fiancé was really big into Boxing and MMA. He was an amateur fighter as well. It was our dream to become professional fighters one day. I had just almost finished with my chemo treatments as I was battling thyroid cancer at the time, so I was not healthy enough to compete yet or even train for that matter. I fought for two years with it, but beat it!
..Shortly before my youngest daughter turned 3, he was murdered tragically for the prescription medication he had. I never went back to an MMA event for a while. It took a ring girl friend of mine to get me to return to them. And I have since been been working towards that first dream for the both of us!
What discipline did you begin with and care to share a bit about your early experiences learning the sport(s)?
My first gym was a Karate dojo. I was only there for a few months and then I went about an hour away and trained Muay Thai for about two years while training at the Grind House MMA in Traverse City, Michigan. I live in a rural area, so I visited gyms across the state. I guess I don't have one dominate discipline… I'm one of the new breed MMA fighters, learning the traditional disciplines, but with applying them to an MMA situation.
At what point did you know you were ready to step in the cage for the first time?
I was always ready and always felt I was ready I was just waiting for my health to allow me to do so.
When the cage locked behind you in your first fight, can you recall what went through your mind? How did your first fight turn out?
I was young and cocky and thought I knew it all. I felt great, actually. Besides I didn't even have a corner man because mine bailed, so it was just me. And.. Well, it didn't go so well. I held my breath and I gassed very quickly and about passed out of exhaustion. I took one hit to the temple and it was lights out for a second.
What are 3 things you've learned while being involved in this sport?
The sport of MMA is like that TV show, Survivor. You pick your alliances and you play the game and hope to make it to the end.. and maybe make a few friends in the process.
MMA is a SOLO sport …you can have coaches managers and teammates showing you support and helping you the entire time, but at the end of the day it breaks down to only you being in the cage and how hard you have pushed yourself. The grind knows what you put in and it wont give you anything you didn't work for.
Always remain humble and helpful. No matter how good of a fighter you are, remember there is always someone out there better then you. Never feel you are to good for anybody or to help someone. Always remember yourself when you first started. Uplift and help others around you because in turn it will lift you up as well and that's the key to being successful; is to surround yourself with other successful persons that share your same goals.
What gym are you currently fighting out of?
Active fitness of Cadillac, MI – Home of Vicious Fight Team
Coach : former professional fighter ''Vicious'' Vance Swerdan
What is your current record (ammy/pro) and at what weight?
I've fought 110 ,115, 125, 135 female fighters were not always available so I took many fights at heavier weights
18-12-1 ammy record for MMA
4-2 ammy kickboxing
2-2 ammy boxing
1-2 muay thai
I live in Michigan which is currently a non-sanctioned state, so many fights are not officially recorded
Do you currently have a nickname in this sport? If so, what is it and why?
Yes it is Starr… It was given to me by a local motorcycle club, Harley Crue MC …My name 'SHEENA' was hard to remember by some and I had a good amount of stars tattooed on me so they gave me the nick name starr and its still with me to this day. They were also my first MMA sponsor.
If you could improve one aspect of your game, what would it be and why?
Setting up my strikes and submissions… Because I believe there is always room for improvement there no matter how good you are.
What is your most memorable experience as an MMA fighter?
Fighting for Fight Hard MMA in St.louis MO in front over thousand plus people. You didn't hear the crowd, but you felt the crowd !!!! The roar of the fans could be felt in your chest and the vibrations from their cheers on your feet coming from the floor, strobe lights flashing, boom cameras following you down the walk way, banners and flags waving. Not many fighters get to experience that! I am blessed I was able to and I will never forget it !!!!!!
Any interesting stories to share or learning experiences whilst fighting you would like to share?
I broke a girl's leg in half checking a kick Anderson silva style. I shattered another girl's nose into her sinuses rushing her to the hospital and another, I fractured both her orbitals.. All three never fought again .. I've broke arms, orbitals, legs, noses… you name it! What I've learned is you got to be able to be used to hurting people .. After I broke that girl's leg it was hard for me to check kicks or throw kicks at people for awhile. I didn't want to hurt them bad and I didn't want to get hurt myself… and then I lost 4 fights in a row because I held back at times. We never mean to seriously hurt our opponents, but we are in there to win like everyone else. Don't feel bad or be afraid to get hurt because you will lose that way … JUST FIGHT !
If you could offer one bit of advice to an aspiring fighter what would it be?
You are only as good as your training and your mind. You have to have both a good level head and good training to be successful. Never over think in the cage! Many fighters do this as they get more experience. You will see fighters first starting out whom are killers and then they diminish. The more you know, the more you think. Try not to think and just fight and do what you know how to do and what you drill… If you think you're late… if you're late you end up having to use muscle, when you have to use muscle, you gas and die! LOL
Would you like to give a shout out to any sponsors individuals who have supported you?
#1 is my mother !! She has helped me so much mostly with my children she takes them when I have to work at an MMA show or if I have a fight and sometimes when I'm away training. I wouldn't be where I am without this wonderful woman who's taught me to be so strong and independent and because of her, I am the fighter I am today!
Dr.Howard Fidler, he's helped me out more ways then one could imagine. Whether it's diet or nutrition, Training schedules, supplements to help me be better while only taking all natural non-chemical substances to help with recovery and energy. This fight doctor is an asset to any fighter… Look him up!! There's a reason why top UFC and INVICTA fighters use him!!!
Steve Daher, owner of Hurricane Heating & cooling ( 1-313-570-8440) serving Detroit area and mid-Michigan. Steve has been a long time supporter of boxing and MMA in the Michigan combat sports community and has always supported me!
And my beautiful children whom always give me praise weather I win or lose. Sometimes I have to take them to the gym with me for hours. They have spent alot of time growing up in the gym and they love it and they are proud of their mommy. They are proud to bring in my awards, medals, belts…anything into their classrooms for show and tell.They keep me going! <3
What are your goals for the future in the sport?
It's my plan to become an asset. I currently also manage pro fighters. I am a judge, a referee, I'm a cutman, I matchmake and fill spots for promoters I work with. I am also an event coordinator. I'm the best in my state! I can glove fighters, stage them and run an MMA show from the back single handedly… and i do! I also make a good cornerman, I wrap hands, and I have even co-promoted MMA events. I can do everything besides announce or be the cage side doctor…
When I am done fighting, after I go as far as I can… I will always have a place in MMA. I am going nowhere! I am a lifer… I'm learning as much as I can!
What are your thoughts on the current state of the sport and where it's headed?
I believe this sport is advancing very quickly and has become one of the biggest, profitable sports today… changing the business along with it. In my opinion, more fighters make it to the spotlight currently by their looks, getting padded records and people they know, rather than their hard work and talent. It wasn't always like that. You used to get to the top by working your tail off and fighting your way to the top, legitimately… not posing half naked to gain exposure and fans. I mean there's nothing wrong with showing off what you have, but we need to remember there is the youth that looks up to us as well. What will they see when they see these top fighters? Will they see hard work and dedication it takes to achieve that goal or will they see something short of a playboy centerfold and reality TV drama antics??
If you could change one thing in the sport, what would it be?
A unified set of rules and regulations and sanctioning for the entire nation to follow by for amatuers… not individual per state or sanctioning body, if the state even has regulated ammy MMA, as some do not. That way everyone has an equal opportunity to progress no matter what state they live in.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself still being involved with the sport, using one of my skills. I have learned throughout the years!
I buy a new pair of socks every time I have a fight and wear them on fight day. It's my favorite feeling, putting on a new pair of socks and the best way to start the day!
Hands down has got to be sushi, and it has to be good sushi! …none of that cheap Chinese buffet crap!
Favorite type of Music:
Anything I can bob my head to. If I had to pick one type, it would definetly be old school rap, and I mean real old school rap… pre-1995, when rap was good!
The harry potter series! Yeah, I'm a dork. Its ok, I'm cool with it!
Favorite TV Show:
"Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon, no matter how right you are or are good at arguing the damn bird is going to strut and shit all over the chess board and walk away like it won anyways"
Do you have any children? Do you plan on having any/more?:
I have two beautiful little girls. One is 10 and the other is 8… and no I don't plan on having anymore.
Best day of your life:
When I found out I was going to live and my cancer treatments were working. Knowing I would be able to be there to watch my babies grow into adulthood, raise them and be there for them has been the best feeling to this date that I have had!
Interesting/Unknown Fact about yourself:
I carry ninja weapons with me everywhere I go unless I fly. At any given time, I have swords, spikes, darts, chain, whips and daggers either on me or close by and I know how to use them! LOL
I am also the co-leader of a girl scout troop my daughters are in.
My daughters and myself donate two Sunday afternoons a month and volunteer at the local united way.
I like to make my own tea, tinctures, soaps and home remedies.
I like to garden and grow my own herbs and spices for cooking and teas and such.
I like to race dragsters and monster trucks. Before I got involved with MMA, I raced circuit Motocross and dirt drag races with dragsters. I have a ton of trophies, I was really good at it!
I like to build stuff and make it go fast. Pretty much, if it will make a good bomb or explosive, I'mma find a way to put it in or on something I can drive! LOL
Who is your favorite super hero and why?
Batman and I mean Michael Keaton, Batman …and why you ask? Well, it's batman, that's reason enough!
Facebook Page/Fan Page:
Manager Contact (for sponsorship/fight inquiries):
Vance Swerdan 1-586-770-8889