Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interview: MMA Fighter Cassie Crisano

The absolutely gorgeous Cassie Crisano

Cassie Crisano is a 145lb MMA fighter with a 1-1-1fight record.  A police officer, mother and MMA fighter, Cassie is a determined woman whose ultimate goal is to do what many fighters fear to do...fight Cris Cyborg.  

Will you describe yourself in a sentence or two?
I'm 31 years old and have been training for about a year in mixed martial arts.  I am a police officer in the D.C. area and I have two boys.  So I am a mom, a police officer and a new mixed martial arts fighter.

How did you get into MMA?
I wrestled for several years in high school and continued for several years thereafter on a recreational level.  I was involved in a traffic accident back in 2002 that had stopped me from wrestling completely.  I actually stumbled upon MMA when Gina Carano and Cyborg were getting ready to fight.  I was at work the night the fight aired and I was like "Wow!  I can do that!" I knew there was something else that I could do other than just wrestling because I felt stuck.  Ever since that day I've followed it and started training here and there.

Where did you start training?
I train out of Predator MMA and Commitment Fitness.  I have a private boxing and training coach.

How long did you train before you took your first fight?
I am one of those type of people where if I do something, I just need to get in there and do it to see if I like it.  So it was eight weeks [laughs], which I know wasn't a good idea and it didn't go in my favor, but it solidified that yes, that was something I wanted to do.  I didn't have any striking training, I just went in there with my wrestling background.  [Laughs] A little BJJ and wrestling, but that was the solidification for me.
My second fight was in October (10 months later) and I had a huge advantage over the female that I fought with my wrestling.  After the fight I watched it over and over.  I had trained a lot with my striking but when it comes down to it, doing something that comes naturally tends to come out when you're in a stressful situation and my wrestling played a big part in winning that fight.
Please describe a normal training week
I am currently training six days a week two to three times a day.  I have really high goals with MMA; I am not at the level to go pro yet but I am training with the hopes of going pro possibly within a year.  But my typical training week...I get up at 5:00am and do my cardio for about two hours.  Then I take a nap for about an hour [laughs], then I get up and eat.  Then I work with my strength training, cardio and boxing coach for about three hours.  Come home, take a break for about four hours, then I go in for my evening class which is a mixture of BJJ, striking and everything.

---Brief interruption while Cassie talks to her three year old son, telling me that they come with her to a lot of her training sessions.  She does some serious parenting, then we start talking about training and parenthood.

I am so impressed by mothers in general, but especially mothers who train.  How do you manage training and parenting?
In the beginning it was extremely hard.  I started training full-time in June and it was extremely hard trying to make everything work, but I have a flow down now.  My 11-year-old goes to school during the day and my 3-year-old comes with me.  A lot of people are like "How do you do that" but he does it with me.  He has his own little bag.  When mommy trains, he puts on his little gloves and does his thing.  I try to involve them as much as I can. 
Cassie's October Fight

Do you do a lot of sparring?
I spar with my boxing coach; he has a whole team of guys that do just boxing and I try to spar two to three times a week, but that is just boxing.  At my other gym we incorporate everything

Are there other women who train at either of your gyms?
You know what, there are none.  You would think with the BJJ classes, but I am the only one.  We've had a couple women come in to try that free week but they never come back.  I always try to be a little more outgoing with other women, but they never come back.  It is kind of discouraging to be the only one and think "where is everybody?"

What is your fight weight?
I am 145 right now.  I am kind of teetering between 145 and 135 only because it is so hard to find fights.  In the past six months I have had four girls back out on me and I mean two days before a fight.  I would train hard for eight to twelve weeks and then I'd get a call saying they backed out, that something happened.  So I am trying to get myself between 135 and 145 so I can actually get fights.  It was hard to stay at 145.

Did you hear they are asking the Cyborg to drop to 145?
Yeah!  To be honest that is kind of discouraging to me.  I have a lot of respect for that 135lb weight class and the 145lb weight class.  I think they are two separate weight classes.  I've been following Ronda Rousey since she came out and I am very much into hey, if you got it, then go for it, but stick to the weight class you are in.  Don't drop a weight class just to avoid somebody [laughs].  I am worried because she came in at this 145 weight class and then hyped herself up and when it came down to it, it's 'Oh crap, I have to fight this woman.'  I have a lot of respect for the Cyborg; I think she is awesome, I think she is phenomenal and I hope one day that I get the opportunity to get in the ring with her.  That is actually my ultimate goal in training.  It discourages to see women at that point that I am working hard to get to deviate away from that weight because they are afraid to fight her. 

---Long tangent about my opinion on the MMA industry, blah blah blah

Does your training change when you have a fight on the books?
It gets a little more intense.  I try to stay consistent even when I don't have anything planned, working on technique and building.  But it gets more intense; we work on my strength training and my cardio.  We don't tend to deviate by learning a lot more, we just try to stick to what we know and stick to that prior to a fight.

Do you get nervous before a fight?
To be honest, I don't get nervous the week before or the day of, but just that couple of hours prior.  It's just that last few hours where I start to get nervous, but it is getting better each fight.  I keep my head and try not to think too much about it.  I train hard, so my philosophy is I trained to do this, there is nothing to think about, it is all going to come natural.

What do you usually do after a fight?
My celebration is to go get something big to eat right after because I haven't eaten in about two weeks.  But my goal is to go pro, so one day down is one day down.  So I don't celebrate too much after a fight, but a big meal is definitely my celebration.

But you don't take a week off?
I usually take two or three days off, then I am right back in.

Why do you fight?
I love it.  I love the competition.  I love to train.  I don't see if as a harsh sport; I see it as a very technical sport that takes skill and dedication.  I have a lot of respect for the women who have been doing this for a long time.  I just hope that one day I can get up there and be at that level.  The Cyborg...that is my top goal.  I hope that one day I can fight for that title; that is my ultimate goal.

So you are definitely going to keep pushing and try to go pro soon?
Definitely.  I had a nickname when I was younger...they called me 'crazy.'  [Laughs].  And not because I did crazy stuff but because if they told me I couldn't do something, I was definitely going to find a way to do it.  So my mom always said to push the envelope with everything.  When I want to do something, I put my mind to it and I don't stop until I succeed.  My goals is to get as far as I can with hardwork and dedication and I am not going to start until I get there. 
I keep my head up and I am confident in what I do.  Each time I step in the cage I learn something, so I can only get better and better. 

Is there anyone you would like to thank?
I want to thank my cardiovascular and strength training coach Ted Halloway.  He is the one who has really been pushing me.  You know things get hard sometimes; you get stressed out or tired or sick but he reminds me of what my dreams and goals are and gives me the confidence to keep going.  Also my BJJ coach JuanSanchez from Predator MMA; he has been amazing working around my schedule, especially with my kids.  He's been really patient.  They are the people who have the faith in me.  Having that extra push from people who believe in you is a big, big help. 

Contact Cassie:
Email:  nyfirefox31@gmail.com
Phone: 410-443-6805
Website:  www.cassiecrisano.com  

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