May 27th 2016
Name – Gina Begley
Nickname – JellyBean
Weight – 135 Pounds
Record – 0 wins 1 loss
Team – AFS Academy of Martial Arts/10th Planet Jiu Jitsu
Where are you from ?
I am currently residing 10+ years in Richmond, KY. However, I grew up in Burning Springs, KY. It’s in a county in Southeast Kentucky.
How long have you been training ?
I began Muay Thai kickboxing in January of 2009. I started Jiu Jitsu the following November.
How did you get in to MMA ?
I initially only did kickboxing for fitness. But I began training in Jiu Jitsu because that is what my son did. I had a Muay Thai fight & entered a jiu jitsu tournament to test out the things I’d been learning in class. I decided to try MMA after attending an all female MMA event in Kentucky. I didn’t really get into at that point. But after training for a while longer, I felt comfortable and tried it again. I’ve been fighting primarily MMA since that time.
Tell us about your nickname and how you got it ?
I struggled with weight cutting because I love sweets. particularly I enjoy Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly jellybeans. I’ve been caught in excessive consumption of them a time or two.
What was the defining moment for you when you knew you wanted to become a fighter ?
I never had a singular moment when I knew that was what I wanted, to become was an MMA fighter. Becoming an MMA fighter has been a natural progression and product of the training I do. If I couldn’t fight, I would still train.
Were your family and friends supportive when you decided to enter the world of MMA ?
My family has never felt very passionate in a negative or positive way about what I do. Sometimes my mother will express concern that I could be upsetting my son with black eyes and stuff. But, he does the same sports so, he understands what it means and is not upset. I think he actually feels more bonded to me because we are both competitors in combat sports.
My friends from back home think it makes sense. I’ve always been a little rough around the edges. My current friends do the same thing so they are all about it.
What is your current record ?
What is your favorite strike or submission ?
I like heel hooks and ankle locks. Toe holds are great too. I particularly like the shin to shin to single x sweep to ashi.
I also like to work my jab. I’m long so it’s a great tool for me.
Who is your biggest inspiration ?
My son. I feel like he looks up to me. I never want to disappoint him with a poor outlook on fighting or training. He is a competitor in Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing as well as a wrestler on his school team. I feel it is always important to do my best because he is watching.
What team do you train with ?
I’ve always trained at the AFS Academy of Martial Arts/ 10th Planet Richmond under coach Scott Elliott.
Do you like to stand with your opponent or take the fight to the ground ?
I like to stand but most of my wins come from when it hits the ground.
What does being fighter mean to you ?
I’ve always felt MMA was very symbolic of life. Each fight isn’t a WAR, it’s a single battle. You win some you lose some. At the end of it all, winning the war is improving yourself as an individual mentally & physically. Stepping in the cage takes a lot out of the person but pushes them to new limits they never thought possible in a lot of cases. In the event of fighters that never train or prepare, it goes along with that. If you don’t prepare, your sabotaging yourself, setting yourself up for failure. Being an MMA fighter means preparing and testing myself and my will to keep improving, learning to accept my success and failure but always improve.
What weight do you fight at ?
I would like to fight at 125lbs but every time I turn around I’m fighting at 130 or 135.
what do you think separates you from other fighters ?
I tend to be a lot taller than most of the fighters in my division. I am an active competitor that also has a son as an active competitor in the same sports.
If you could have one dream fight who would it be against and why ?
I don’t know that I dream of fighting anyone. I feel like the opportunity to fight anyone in my division is out there so I don’t feel like I need to wish about fighting anyone there. There are plenty of people I would like to go train with though.
Who has been your toughest fight to date ?
I can’t remember the names of my kickboxing opponents. But I would say that those fights have been the toughest. Kickboxing is so cardio intense it has always been the toughest for me to do.
What is your mindset going in to a fight ?
I’m always uncomfortable. There are tons of emotions running through my head. I’m usually trying to focus on being prepared and how great it will feel to win the fight.
Who are you fighting next ?
I will be fighting Marissa Caldwell from Vision MMA out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
what holes or weaknesses do you see in her game that you can exploit ?
Other than some Jiu Jitsu tournaments and races she hasn’t been competing much in the last few years. I have been very active in both of those things but also fighting MMA and Boxing in the last few months as well.
What promotion are you fighting for ?
The best MMA promotion in Kentucky! Hardrock MMA
Date and time of your next fight ?
July 16th 2016, they usually start at 7pm EST. The promoter does make Internet PPV available through BluegrassMMA.com sometimes.
What do you want people to remember you for at the end of your career ?
I want to be remembered as a strong leader for the up and coming females I have coming up behind me at my gym.
Who has been most influential to you in your career ?
My coach Scott Elliott has been a very influential person for my career. He is great about encouraging anyone to not only pursue their goals but to believe in your ability to achieve them.
Who do you feel has had the biggest impact on the sport ?
probably the Gracie’s if we are gonna look at the biggest in the history of the sport. If they had not started it all way back when, we don’t know where the sport would be. But through the course of time, lots of people have influenced the sport to the current state it is today. There isn’t really one person who deserves all of the credit for MMA as we know it today. Dana White and the Fertitta brothers brought it to popularity today, not to mention spotlighting women they way they do now. Hard to say really where that credit all goes.
How would you describe your fighting style ?
I usually check the Freestyle box!
What drives or motivates you ?
Self improvement, growth as an individual.
What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t become a fighter
Training everyday at my gym while also training others.
What gets you hyped up for a fight do you have any pre fight rituals that get you ready to go to battle
I get hyped up hitting pads to warm up. It makes me feel ready and prepared to go.
your backstage about to walk out your music hits what’s going through your head as you walk to the cage ?
Twenty more minutes to see all of my hard work pay off.
Who is your favourite fighter ?
I like a few of them for different reasons. I have always been a big fan of Cyborg though. I met her at the first MMA event I ever went too. She was extremely nice. After that I attended a seminar she did and loved her training style. Since then I’ve met a lot of fighters. She has by far been the most approachable and nicest. Kind of neat considering what a savage she is when she fights.
When you’re not training what do you like to do with your free time ?
I enjoying hiking, swimming, and riding a bicycle. Summertime is the best. I could sit in/by a pool all day and be happy.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the sport so far ?
I felt very accomplished when Invicta signed me to their roster. Outside of the UFC, which doesn’t even include my division, they are what I consider, as good as it gets!
What do you think the biggest challenges are for women in MMA ?
Some of the challenges, it’s easier to sell a pretty face for promoters. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with marketing yourself in a certain way that borders on tasteful sexuality. But its easy to slap lingerie on it for the pervs. The line is very grey and its hard to tell when you’ve crossed it. Maybe it all depends on the fan base you want to keep.
What advice can you give to young female fighters ?
Research the place you want to train. Ask questions and make sure the coach has reputable qualifications. An unqualified coach is just as dangerous as no coach at all.
Where do you see women’s MMA in the next 5-10 years ?
I hope, we see it showcased a little more evenly to the male divisions at the higher levels.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years ?
Coaching, training, competing, and maybe more involved in judging fights would be fun!
What are your goals within the sport ?
I would like to continue on the path I am on. I would like to stay involved in the local MMA scene. I would enjoy judging, reffing, and commentating on fights more.
Is there anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to ?
I would like to give a shout out to my team, the AFS Academy/ 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Richmond. My coach is very dedicated to seeing his students succeed both in and outside the cage. My teammates are my family and I’m so grateful for them all. I have training partners like Adam Fritz, Emily Bartee, Brandon Campbell, Linda Mihalec, and Renee Taylor that help me prepare. But I also have teammates that train with me but help take care of my son when I’m away. I want to thank them as well, especially Sarah Bowling and Dan & Tiffany Turner. But overall I’m thankful for all of my friends and family at our gym!
Bluegrass MMA always supports my fights and I feel fortunate that they work with me. I’m lucky to have Gary Thomas and his crew help me along my fight journey.
Thank you Hardrock MMA for the opportunity.
Thank you to Keith Cogar, Central Liquor, and Roger Mitterling for the support in my fight camps. I appreciate your continued support of my career.