Tuff-N-Uff Debut

On August 26th, McDonald will compete for her first amateur MMA title. After spending much of her career fighting at higher weights, she will compete at 110 pounds; a weight that she believes is ideal.

“I wish there was a weight class at 110 because it’s perfect for me,” she says. “I’m walking around at about 114 pounds now. Once it gets close to the fight, just from training and eating healthy, I’ll probably be around 111 or 112 pounds. There really is no weight cut. I’ve fought at 115 before, but just to get fights, and I’m going to do my best not to fight at 115 anymore because I don’t even walk around that heavy when I’m training.

“110 is what I would like to do as an amateur,” she adds, “and once I turn pro, I will look to cut to 105. I walk around really lean, so I don’t know how that cut [to 105] is going to go because I’ve never tried it before, but I would rather fight at 105 than face girls who are cutting down to make 115 while I eat more to get there.”

McDonald’s goal is to win the Tuff-N-Uff 110-pound title and defend it once before joining the pro ranks. However, standing in her way is undefeated prospect Liz McCarthy, who has never been to a decision in four career fights. McDonald has studied the limited fight tape that is available on her opponent, but as with many amateur fighters – and particularly women – fight footage is scarce. McDonald sees this as both a positive and a negative, but believes that her key to success is in not making any mistakes.

“I know that Liz is well-rounded, but I don’t know what level of fighters she has fought before,” she says. “There is video of her last fight against Sarah Lagerstrom, and that girl has really good standup, but she is a lot shorter than me. I think that Liz is probably going to be the best and most well-rounded fighter that I have fought yet, and I am excited about that because I want to gradually step up the difficulty of my opponents.

“I like the fact that we’re going to be the same size, and she doesn’t really have a lot of holes in her game. There are little nuances that I have tried to pick up on from watching Liz’s videos, but as with a lot of amateur female fighters, there’s not a lot of video available and it’s kind of hard to really study my opponent. That has pros and cons as well, though. She can’t really get into my head if I don’t know that much about her, and then I can just focus on my game. That is what I think that I should do, regardless.”

McDonald is expecting a tough fight and is keeping her training balanced. Rather than focusing on new techniques, she is making small changes to improve upon her existing skillset. Now working part-time, rather than 40+ hours per week in South Carolina, and with experienced coaches and training partners within a short driving distance, McDonald is finally able to train adequately.

“This is the most challenging fight that I have faced yet, but I am going into it more confident than for any fight before,” she says. “To be honest, for all of my past fights, I always felt underprepared and stressed out because it was hard to get to the gym and I didn’t have that much time once I got there. Now, that’s not a problem.”


Making A Living

In addition to the support from her friends and training partners in Las Vegas, McDonald has also been able to network with Nevada-based companies to set up sponsorships for upcoming fights. Though she is not paid to fight as an amateur, she still faces the same costs of training and everyday life that professional fighters do, and sponsor support has been welcome. Groups such as The Gun Store, The Fight Dentist and a division of TapouT will all be sponsoring McDonald in August.

“It was always easiest to get sponsors when I fought in my hometown because their market was where I was fighting,” McDonald notes. “I was a little bit worried when I came out here that I would lose that [advantage], and I did lose that, but I’m in a much bigger market now and I’ve been able to meet some people and some much bigger sponsors. While I’m an amateur, they can only do so much, but once I turn pro, I think that if we continue to develop relationships I will be doing pretty well sponsor-wise.

“I definitely need more,” she continues, “but I’ve been pretty happy with being able to find sponsors. It’s all about getting out there and showing your sponsor that you can get them some exposure. It’s about what you can do for them. Since I moved out here, I’ve gotten a lot more exposure, like in Fighters Only Magazine. I’ve also been in talks with Fight! Magazine and they might do a feature.”

The photogenic McDonald has not given up on modelling, either. In fact, her weekends have been steadily booked with photoshoots since moving to Las Vegas. This has aided in boosting her profile as she looks to develop her name, and McDonald believes that her careers in mixed martial arts and modelling have been mutually beneficial.

“The only times that one makes the other difficult are days like today,” she laughs. “I have a photoshoot and I’ve got a huge gash on my knee and a fat ankle from training. That’s the only time that it has become an issue. Obviously, if I had a big fight, I wouldn’t be able to schedule a photoshoot right after that because there’s always a chance that I would have a black eye or something, but other than that, one really benefits the other and it’s just a way for me to set myself apart and get my name out there.”


Personal Goals

Now one month away from the televised Tuff-N-Uff fight, McDonald is excited. She only just recently found out that she would be competing for a title, which fulfils one of her primary goals that she set when moving west. She sees a title victory in Tuff-N-Uff as the pinnacle of an amateur fighter’s career.

“I’m just really excited to see how much I can grow now that I have the time and resources to do so,” McDonald says. “I was able to do as much as I did before despite huge time constraints, so now I’m just really excited to focus my drive and motivation on just fighting. Of course, I would love to become a world champion as a professional, but right now I am just focused on seeing what the best fighter that I can become is. I’m now at a time in my life when I can really go for it.”

McDonald has messages for other people – especially women – who might also be considering an unconventional path in life, such as her decision to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

“We’re groomed to take a very conventional path towards ‘success.’ Go to college, go to law school, work 60-80 hours per week behind a desk. It was really difficult for me to take the jump and take the risk to pursue this unconventional fighter lifestyle. One thing that I hope to show other people is just to do what makes you happy. Don’t do what you think is the ‘right’ thing to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

“I’m not making very much money now,” McDonald admits. “I’m kind of living the life of a poor person, whereas I had a great job before but I wasn’t happy. I hope that I can instill in people the importance of not having to follow a conventional life plan. And for girls, as a female in a male-dominated sport, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Just follow your heart.”

Jordan McDonald will take the next step in her career on August 26th when she faces Liz McCarthy for the inaugural Tuff-N-Uff 110-Pound Women’s Championship. The event will be held at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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