October 3rd 2016
Name – Ann Perez de Tejada
Weight – 115 pounds
Record – 0 wins 1 loss
Team – Grudge Training Center
Where are you from ?
I’ve lived in Colorado since 9th grade, came over on the very last wagon train…
How long have you been training ?
Over fifteen years, counting my karate career; I’ve been training MMA and Jiu Jitsu since about 2008.
How did you get into MMA?
My karate instructor wanted me to train Jiu Jitsu in preparation for my second degree black belt test, so I went to a school up in Boulder to do that, and fell in love with grappling. I met the head of an MMA fight team at the school picnic; he said he had heard I had some game and invited me to work out with the team. I stayed with them for a few years, training Muay Thai and MMA.
Tell us about your nickname and how you got it. ?
Don’t have one – that I know about! 😉
What was the defining moment for you when you knew you wanted to become a fighter ?
There wasn’t a moment per se; it was a gradual evolution. After a few months of training, I knew MMA was my love – and it still is!
Were your family and friends supportive when you decided to enter the world of MMA ?
Yes – no one who knows me is surprised at anything I come up with!
What is your current record ?
My first two fights were kickboxing fights. I’ve only had one MMA fight so far; it ended in a tko by ground and pound, so I’m currently 0-1, and looking to avenge myself.
What team do you currently train with ?
I found my home at Grudge Training Center, in my opinion the best MMA training in Colorado. A number of UFC, Bellator, and other high level fighters train there, as does WSOF champ Justin Gaethje. My coaches are Luke Caudillo, a UFC vet with 35 cage fights, and Jake Ramos, the head coach. Every day when I walk in the door, I can’t believe I’m actually training with guys I used to see on TV!
Do you like to stand with your opponent or take the fight to the ground ?
I’m comfortable on the ground, but I’m better as a striker. I do love the stand up.
What does being fighter mean to you ?
That’s a hard question for me to answer, since it’s so close to my heart. I’ve been training martial arts for over 15 years; for the past 8 years or so, it’s been the driving force behind everything I do in martial arts. Beyond that, I’ve had to overcome so much hostility and rejection just because of my age that I’ve become even more determined to show people that age is just a number, that what matters is what you can do. I love MMA because it takes everything I’ve ever learned and more than I will ever be able to learn. Fighting is the ultimate challenge and the ultimate validation – leaving aside the fact that I can’t seem to stop!
What weight do you fight at ?
I prefer to fight at 115, but could do 110 or 120.
What do you think separates you from other fighters In your division ?
Of course, the first thing that most people notice is my age; at 68, I’m the oldest fighter in the country. My hope is that people will look beyond that and see that I am a well-rounded fighter who is definitely competitive!
If you could have one dream fight who would it be against ?
Don’t have a preference; I’ll fight anyone my coach approves.
Who has been your toughest fight to date ?
Only one MMA fight so far, so I guess it would have to be that one!
What is your mindset going in to a fight ?
I think the most important thing is to visualize the fight beforehand; the more time spent visualizing, the easier the actual fight will be, because essentially you’ve already dealt with most things that are likely to happen.
Who are you fighting next ?
Don’t have a fight set up yet.
What promotion are you fighting for?
I fought for Jeff Cisneros’ Sparta Combat League, and I’ll always be grateful to him for bringing me in and treating me like any other fighter.
What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career ?
Whether I like it or not, I’ll be remembered as the oldest female fighter, but what I’d like to be remembered for is persistence in overcoming age discrimination and helping blaze a trail for other fighters who don’t fit the mold.
Who has been most influential to you in your career ?
Mark Baier, my karate instructor, who is not only a karate legend but also a national champion kickboxer, taught me so much not just about fighting, but about pride, sportsmanship, and never giving up.
Who do you feel has had the biggest impact on the sport ?
No one person is responsible, but I’d have to say it was probably Royce Gracie who added the ground fighting and helped differentiate this sport from other kinds of fighting.
How would you describe your fighting style ?
Little bit of everything…
What drives or motivates you to step in the cage and compete ?
My own compulsion to keep improving and keep striving to be the best I can be.
What is something people might not know about you ?
My Spanish is as good as my English!
What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t become a fighter ?
That’s a tough question – it’s hard to imagine life without fighting, but I’d probably still be in karate, maybe doing more teaching.
What gets you hyped up for a fight do you have any pre fight rituals that get you ready to go to step in the cage ?
For me, the most important thing is to spend time visualizing every part of the fight, from the walk in to the end. This has to be a positive thing – you never visualize yourself losing, only handling everything your opponent can throw at you. I got hurt a few days before my first kickboxing fight and wasn’t allowed to do much of anything until the day before weigh ins, but I had done so much visualizing that the actual fight was easy.
Who is your favorite fighter ?
Two of them – Anderson Silva, whose striking skill was absolutely amazing, and Urijah Faber earlier in his career – he was so creative with his ground game and showed so much heart! I’ve never seen anyone fight several rounds with a broken hand like he did.
When you’re not training what do you like to do with your free time ?
Between training, working, and taking care of my horse, there isn’t much free time! I spend time with family and friends, and get up to the mountains when I can.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the sport so far ?
As far as we can tell, I’m the oldest female MMA fighter ever at 68, and probably the oldest active fighter in the world right now. John Williams of Canada took his first MMA fight at 70, so he’s the all time oldest fighter that we know of.
What do you think the biggest challenges are for women in MMA ?
I think being taken seriously by the men is still a challenge, although there’s been a lot of progress in recent years. I’m excited to see how many opportunities are out there now for women.
What advice can you give to young female fighters ?
Set your goals high and believe in yourself – oh, and train your ass off!
Where do you see women’s MMA in the next 5-10 years ?
I believe it will continue to get bigger. I’ve seen a ton of talented 14-16 year old girls who train hard and whose goal is to get into MMA; that didn’t used to happen as much.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years ?
Probably not fighting lol! If I’m able, I’d like to stay involved in some capacity; there are always opportunities.
What are your goals within the sport ?
I really want to do another fight or two; we’re looking for one now.
Is there anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to ?
Many, many people, but especially my coaches Luke Caudillo, Nick Honstein, and Jacob Ramos for their wisdom and patience, and for always going the extra mile for me; my karate instructor, Kyoshi Mark Baier, who’s been my inspiration; my son Daniel, who has always believed in my even when I didn’t believe in myself, and who is my role model for persistence and heart. All the people who have supported me and helped me along the way – you keep me going! And finally a shout out to the people who put obstacles in my path and tried to discourage me – you made me stronger!