ONE FC 22 takes place on November 7, 2014 in Singapore, and Singaporean Kirstie Gannaway will make her MMA debut in front of her home town crowd.
Gannaway was brought onto the Evolve MMA Fight Team as the next talent for the stellar gym. The boxer will be taking her first MMA fight against fellow MMA debutant Adek Omar of Malaysia.
At just 23, Gannaway has a huge future in front of her. In this interview leading up to her ONE FC debut, she spoke about the people in her life who have contributed to her development, her training, and the game plan she intends to implement come fight night.
Asia MMA: How did you get involved in martial arts, specifically your first combat sport, boxing?
Gannaway: One of my biggest inspirations is my older brother. We are very close and grew up together sharing almost similar interests and I looked up to him as my role model. When we were very young, my brother was a trouble-maker but he turned his life around when he picked up boxing. It made me sit up in wonder when I realized what a great example he had set when he took control and got his life back together through such a great sport. When he competed and performed so well at his first fight, I was inspired to want to do the same.
I picked up boxing effortlessly because I grew up as a tomboy and have always been a tomboy even until today. It was only recently that I started embracing my femininity. While I enjoy the soft and feminine side of me, I will always be a tomboy deep down inside my heart.
Asia MMA: How did this lead to MMA for you?
Gannaway: I started training in MMA only about three years ago and it was initially a challenge for me as I didn’t have any foundation for ground skills then, but I did enjoy picking up new skills. I always knew I wanted to compete since I started training in MMA. Going pro as an MMA fighter was something I had talked about for a while but I never imagined it happening this fast or in this manner. However, I am really happy with these opportunities that have been presented to me.
Asia MMA: You are a pioneer Singaporean female in fighting with ONE FC. What are your thoughts about that?
Gannaway: It’s great to be a part of this generation of female fighters in Asia and Singapore, especially because MMA has just begun to boom very recently in this region, and ONE FC constantly having sold-out events. I’m excited to inspire others alike and being a part of ONE FC and a member of the Evolve Fight Team is really huge to me. It’s an honor for me to be able to debut at Asia’s biggest MMA promotion and particularly right here in front of my home crowd.
Asia MMA: What have you done to prepare for your fight?
Gannaway: I train 2 to 3 times a day, two hours each time. In each training session we will cover wrestling, BJJ, Muay Thai, boxing or strength and conditioning. We have been covering all areas, working on improving techniques and then putting it all together to work my entire skill set to be a well-rounded MMA fighter. With all the training and support I’ve gotten from my coaches and team mates, I feel great and I am looking forward to fight night.
Asia MMA: What are your opinions about your opponent and how do you anticipate the fight will go?
Gannaway: I’m looking forward to getting in the cage right here in Singapore. I have respect for my opponent but I’m definitely looking to finish the fight and give the Singapore crowd a fight to remember! I have been training really hard, with the very best guys in the business, and I’m feeling confident and strong.
Asia MMA: What strengths do you bring into the cage?
Gannaway: I am a confident striker. I have power and speed in my hands and I’m going to use those attributes on the night of the fight. Although my focus is in striking, I’m also very confident on the ground and have worked on my game a lot, so don’t think for a second that I won’t be looking to finish on the ground if I get the chance.
Asia MMA: What are the biggest challenges you face?
Gannaway: The fact that this is my professional debut is in itself a challenge. The experience is all so new to me. However, nothing is going to stop me in my goal to win this fight.
Asia MMA: For other up and coming female MMA aspirants hoping to fight professionally, what would your advice be?
Gannaway: Make sure you’re there because you want to be there, and not because you think someone else wants you there or because you want to prove something to someone else. Do not allow the your fight to be about proving something to others, because in the end, all that matters is what you want and why you want it.
Asia MMA: Which MMA fighter are you inspired by most and why?
Gannaway: I really admire Jose Aldo for his technical ability and level of focus when he steps into the cage. I have never seen a fighter so into his own zone as he is. I remembered him fighting late last year and he was so in his own zone and was so confident throughout the entire fight.
Asia MMA: You are in relationship with fellow fighter Herbert Burns. What are the dynamics of being in a relationship with another fighter? Is it smooth sailing, or are there specific challenges to overcome?
Gannaway: What most people don’t realize is that although Herbert is into MMA as well, it was actually harder for me to pursue a career before now because Herbert was having his own issues settling professionally in MMA. In Brazil, there’s a lot of competition and a lot of guys going after the same thing. Talent there is very often brushed aside or passed by, which is a real shame.
Since he was able to settle with Evolve MMA and pursued his MMA career in the ONE FC, cage it gave me more time to focus on what I really want to achieve. So the biggest challenge was having to prioritize Herbert and being patient about the way I was managing my personal life. It was really stressful for me because naturally, no one likes to have to subside going after something they know they really want. Ultimately, these experiences made me more appreciative of what I have now. I’m glad to have made the decision to compete professionally and having Herbert as my partner has really helped. I have not looked back since.
Asia MMA: Beyond being a professional MMA fighter, is there another job you have or see yourself having?
Gannaway: I have just started out as a pro MMA fighter. I have a lot to learn and I want to be great at what I do, so that is my priority right now. I have already experienced and learned a lot in a short amount of time, but I’m looking to improve myself as a complete martial artist.
If I was not a fighter I would most likely be into something artistic. I love to draw, paint and design so I would most likely pursue something in that field.
Other than that I would like to inspire others alike and promote the wellness of a lifestyle that anyone can obtain from training in martial arts. MMA is something I believe in, and I’m confident it will have a positive impact on anyone’s life.