GA: How did you get started in MMA fighting?
Nicole: Unlike most, I had no background experience in any martial arts, but I was always fairly active – coming up on 5 years ago, I got interested through a friend that boxed for hobby. Then, I happened to see an ad for a local MMA gym on Facebook, and decided to try it out. I really had no plans of it becoming much more than form of exercise, but 6 months later I found myself walking into a cage, making my amateur debut.
GA: What do you do for a day job?
Nicole: I think most people who meet me in the gym are usually surprised to find that I have a totally normal desk job working for Mark A Stephens, CPA – and the clients who meet me in the office are always surprised to find out what I do in my free time. Unfortunately, fighting doesn’t pay the bills for me quite yet, but I am lucky enough to work for a great company with very flexible and understanding bosses who allow me to pursue my dreams, and don’t mind too much when I walk into work with the occasional black eye.
GA: What do your friends and family think about you being a fighter?
Nicole: Everyone has been really supportive… I’m sure that it’s hard for my mother sometimes to see her daughter compete in combat sports, but I know she’s proud and is always cheering me on. Finding time for friends and family between my work and training schedule can be a challenge, but I have a truly wonderful support group, and they are definitely my biggest fans.
GA: What would you like to see happen with your fighting career?
Nicole: Obviously, the most important thing is to know that I put my best into this, and gave it a genuine shot – but as a competitor, I am hungry for the biggest and best. I had an amateur record of 5-1, I am currently 1-0 as a professional – I have won more medals in BJJ tournaments over the last 4 years than I remember… I know that I am more than capable of reaching the next level of this sport; I just have to keep at it. I want to see the UFC add the women’s atom weight division, and I want to be on that roster. In addition to being a professional MMA fighter, I also hold a purple belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu. I want to compete in as many grappling tournaments as I can, win gold at the IBJJF World’s competition, and continue my journey to black belt.
GA: Do you think of yourself as a girly girl, or a fighter, or both?
Nicole: I’m probably about as girly as one could be in this sport. There’s just about nothing I love more than dressing up, and putting on makeup, and wearing the highest heels I can find. However – long, beautiful, painted fingernails, and perfectly pedicured feet are just not a reality. I spend most of my time in a gym sweating, (and getting sweated on), and punching and kicking and choking people… so you can imagine it’s hard to maintain that “Stepford Wife” look – but I sure try! Fortunately, I at least have a wonderful hair stylist here in Gastonia, James Summey, who helps keep that part of me presentable.
GA: I know you are looking for sponsors- tell us about that…
Nicole: It is no secret that sports are expensive. Anyone who has competed in one, or has a child that competes, knows the struggle. Most fighters will obtain business sponsors to help offset the costs of gym dues, tournament fees, gear expenses, supplements, and healthy food to keep up a proper diet during a weight cut. In return, these businesses get the benefit of ‘shout-outs’ on social media, and logos on a fighter’s competition uniform for exposure to potentially thousands of people. It’s a great form of advertisement for them, while also supporting a local athlete. I was able to pick up a supplement sponsor, Inner Armour, but I am currently focusing on finding sponsors to help with my tournament fees, gear expenses, and potentially a meal prep company for weight cuts.
GA: What weight do you fight at, and what do you normally weigh?
Nicole: I am currently fighting as an atom weight (105lbs). My normal walk around weight is 120-125lbs. Now, I know that sounds like a huge amount of weight to lose, but keep in mind it is done over a period of about 6 weeks and most of it comes off by just cleaning junk out of my diet and eating really healthy. Over the last week I will begin to shed off water weight to complete the cut, but I have an excellent coach, Michael Allen, who is very experienced in this area and makes sure I am safe. I have to be capable of cutting the weight off, rehydrating intelligently, and having plenty of energy to potentially fight for a total of 15 minutes, (3×5 minute rounds), or 25 minutes for a title, (5×5 minute rounds).
GA: How often do you train, and what is that like?
Nicole: During a camp, I am training 6 days a week, sometimes multiple times a day, if possible. Even outside of a camp, I am still training 4-5 days a week. MMA is short for “Mixed Martial Arts” – This means I have several disciplines I must work on. My main focuses are boxing, BJJ, and wrestling. As I stated before, I had zero background in any martial art until I started training 5 years ago – So, to learn, and be GOOD at this many sports is a tough and time consuming job. I work full time during the week, and train in the evenings. It can be very exhausting – but if it is worth doing, it is worth doing right. I watched one of those motivational videos the other day that said “Don’t do what makes you happy, do what makes you great.” I would compare my MMA career to a marriage – You love your spouse all of the time, but they do not make you happy all of the time, it’s impossible. I love this sport, I couldn’t imagine my life without it… but am I happy about my training or performance ALL of the time? No. But, that’s ok – I won’t let that stop me from being great.
GA: What would you say to young girls that are interested in MMA?
Nicole: MMA is definitely not for everyone, and it’s not a sport I would particularly encourage anyone to do. It’s something you really need to try out, weigh your pros and cons, and decide if you love it enough to deal with the consequences. However, I would stand on a mountaintop and proclaim that all women and young girls should take Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lessons. There is no punching involved, so outside of the occasional stray knee or elbow, you are safe from facial injury, and it is an EXCELLENT form of self-defense. BJJ teaches you that you do not have to be the bigger, stronger opponent to win. You will learn in a gi, which simulates using a person’s clothes against them. I cannot describe the feeling of realizing how amazing you have been all along. In a world where women are generally considered the weaker sex, BJJ will show you what you are truly capable of, and provide a confidence boost that no other sport could offer. If any women/girls/moms/dads (anyone!) have further questions about this, or if you want to keep up with my fighting career, please find me on Instagram and Twitter @nicolehunt_423 J
“The Anvil” Nicole Hunt
Gym: Checkmat/Real American Grappling – 3226 Nevada Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273