Quickly establishing herself as a force in the flyweight division, Jessica Pene is one of the top prospects in women's MMA today. She talks with MMARising.com about her undefeated career to date and preparations for her upcoming fight.
Believing that it is key to take gradual steps up in competition, Jessica has compiled a very impressive record of 6-0-0 with four wins by stoppage since debuting in mixed martial arts in November of 2006. With solid striking skills and an even better ground game, she is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the women's flyweight (115-pound) division. Coming off of a dominant TKO victory over Tammie Schneider at Bellator Fighting Championships 5, Jessica looks forward to returning to the promotion for its second season, but will face a very tough challenge when she battles fellow rising star Angela Magana on September 25th.
MMARising.com: Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Jessica. To begin, when did you first take an interest in martial arts and which disciplines did you initially train in?
Jessica Pene: I started training a little over four years ago. I thought it looked like something that I would be interested in. I train in jiu-jitsu, wrestling, Muay Thai and boxing.
MMARising.com: As a member of the Subfighter Mixed Martial Arts team in Laguna Hills, California, what is a typical day like for you at the gym and which aspects of training do you most enjoy?
Jessica: A typical day of training starts at 4:00 A.M. I run with my boxing coach, Jimmy Jackson, and then I hit the focus mitts. After that, I go to class. We start out with drilling and sparring, then strength and conditioning with Brandon Bovee. I take a break and come back in the evening and train again. Adam Lynn and Russ Miura run the majority of the classes.
I most enjoy the coaching during training. Everyone is really on the same page and we all work well with each other. Everyone at the gym works well together. We all want to see each other improve and we have all known each other for many years, so it's a good environment.
MMARising.com: You have said that your male counterparts at the gym have all been very supportive of you, but are there any other women who train regularly at Subfighter or are you currently the only female who trains full-time?
Jessica: Currently, I am the only female at my gym. I think it's great to train with the partners that I have. They really are very supportive and they push me.
MMARising.com: In addition to training, you also teach women's classes at LA Boxing. What is most rewarding about teaching skills to others, and do you find your own skills improving when you are showing new techniques to students?
Jessica: I really enjoy teaching and I have noticed that, in trying to help others to develop their skills, my own skills have improved as well.
MMARising.com: You are a very well-rounded fighter, but are there some areas of MMA that come more naturally to you or do you find it easy to improve your skills in all aspects?
Jessica: Thank you, I have been working very hard to become a well-rounded fighter. I think the fact that I have always been involved in athletics has made it easier for me to improve and learn techniques. Although some take more work than others, I enjoy the challenge in all aspects.
MMARising.com: Some fans may not yet be familiar with you, but you hold a perfect professional record of 6-0 and have stopped four of your opponents, including three inside of one round. Do you find that it has been more beneficial to your career to make gradual steps up in competition as you progress from fight to fight?
Jessica: I really think that taking time off after fights to make adjustments and improvements really helps. I wish there had been an amateur league to compete in, but fighting at a professional level was the only option besides smokers and submission tournaments. I think that, in any sport, to make gradual steps up in competition is the right thing to do.
MMARising.com: This past May, you made your debut for the rising Bellator Fighting Championships promotion and picked up an extremely impressive TKO victory over Tammie Schneider. Bellator is set to begin their second season next year and is rumoured to have a major television deal in the works. Do you intend to compete for Bellator again in 2010 or are your sights set on fighting elsewhere?
Jessica: I am looking forward to fighting for Bellator again next year, but until then, if other opportunities come up, I will look into them.
MMARising.com: You are next set to compete against another rising star, Angela Magana (8-3-0 and the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women's Bantamweight Champion), on September 25th in Hollywood, Florida. Like you, all but two of her victories have come by stoppage. What are your thoughts on facing Angela?
Jessica: I think that it will be a good fight and I am looking forward to the challenge that Angela presents.
MMARising.com: A win over Angela would be one step closer to competing for a major title in a larger promotion, whether in Bellator or elsewhere. What would it mean to you to be a champion in a well-known promotion, especially one where you can compete on television?
Jessica: I am not really one for a lot of attention. I think that it would be a cool experience to fight on TV so that my friends and family can watch because I rarely fight close to my home town.
MMARising.com: Outside of MMA, you are a Communications major at Cal State Fullerton. Is it difficult to balance school responsibilities with training or have you worked out a schedule that allows you to devote enough time to both?
Jessica: I always try to schedule school and work around training. Maybe I would have made it through school a little faster otherwise, but I love to train and compete and it makes me happy. I try to make as much time for school and work as I do for training, but I do favor one over the others.
MMARising.com: Do you intend to compete in mixed martial arts for many years to come or would you like to move into a new field once you have graduated?
Jessica: This is what I want to do, and it's a great time to be involved in the sport. I can pursue other avenues when I am done competing.
MMARising.com: Looking ahead, what are your main goals for the remainder of 2009 and what would you like to accomplish next year?
Jessica: Well, I am in my last semester of school, so I am stoked about that! I hope that it will give me more time to train, improve and compete.
MMARising.com: Do you have any final comments or shout-outs to fans, family or sponsors?
Jessica: I would like to say hello to my family and friends, and thanks to my coaches for being so supportive.
MMARising.com: Thank you again for your time for this interview and we wish you the best of luck in your fight with Angela.
Jessica: Thank you!
MMARising.com would like to sincerely thank Jessica for taking time out from her extremely busy schedule for this interview. We look forward to seeing more of her exciting fights in the future.