Recap: Women of UFC panel hosted by Megan Olivi

As a part of International Fight Week, Megan Olivi hosted a Women of UFC panel featuring some of MMA’s biggest stars and top contenders. On the panel was undefeated strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, number six ranked strawweight star Michelle Waterson, strawweight fan favorite Paige VanZant and number one featherweight Cris Cyborg. Read some fun takeaways below, or watch the full exclusive at the bottom!

  • They start by each sharing stories of how they got started in martial arts. Cyborgs says a friend begged her to take a class and she fell in love when she did, Paige says her dad’s love of martial arts spread to her and that  her first pro-fight was to help pay for school books, Michelle says martial arts has been a lifelong passion she shared with her brother and that she wasn’t content doing anything else, and Joanna realized her love for Muay Thai in Thailand where she diverged herself in her training.
  • Megan asks the girls if they watch UFC. Joanna said she “still doesn’t watch”, Michelle says she used to see the DVDs at Blockbuster and think it was WWE, Paige says when she never saw a fight prior to signing with the UFC, and Cyborg says she watches with her teammates.
  • Paige says a success for one woman is a success for all women in the sport– “We’re here and we’re taking the stage by storm”
  • Megan asks the women about the difficulties of being women in a predominantly male sport. Michelle says the things that “pull you back are what make you stronger” and that “setbacks build her character”
  • Paige says she enjoyed being surrounded by men at the gym, she remembers being bullied by girls growing up. Training with men gives her confidence. Cyborg says she was the only girl in her gym as well amongst forty guys, and she used to go home and say, “today I’m gonna cry, the next day I’m going to make someone cry”
  • A member of the PR staff informs Olivi that two of the highest rated FOX shows were headlined by women– VanZant vs Waterson, Holm vs Shevchenko
  • Paige says the biggest moment of her life was her UFC debut, walking out and how her debut led her to other opportunites such as a Reebok sponsorship. Michelle says moving to Albuquerque and submersing herself in training and the lifestyle, says how she made a vision board that inclded fighting for the UFC.
  • Michelle says they are not female fighters– they’re fighters. Period.
  • JJ says if you are dreaming about being a champion or fighting in the UFC than it is all up to you
  • Cyborg talks about her opportunity in the UFC and that she is thankful for her fans for making this happen
  • Olivi says she remembers young girls crying when meeting Joanna in Dallas for her last title defense
  • Paige says her UFC career is a a platform to inspire people
  • Paige reveals she has a book coming out next year
  • Cyborg tells a story about how a fan was surprised that she was really nice when she met her
  • Michelle says they put themselves out there for the world to see at thier most vulnerable, and that that garners respect. Fans who are there through the ups and downs make her appreciative.
  • Cyborg says nothing is easy in life if it comes easy it goes easy.
  • Michelle agrees with all the ladies and says you have to be persistent. “Can you keep going? is it worht X amount of time of your life?” JJ says it is, she agrees with Michelle and says you have to keep moving no matter what, you can slow, but you cannot stop
  • On what they would be doing if they weren’t fighting– Paige says shed be a profesional chef or a Nascar driver, Cyborg says a veterinarian, and that her  mom wanted to be a dentist–she says she can take out teeth, but cannot put them back in. Joanna says she wants to be a good businesswoman, and Michelle says anything that involves martial arts.
  • Paige says she knew WMMA would blow up, Michelle says the “raw emotion” of the women is what people are drawn to
  • Megan asks them who their favorite male fighter are. JJ says Robbie Lawler and Conor Mcgregor, Paige says her teeammates and Forrest Griffin, Michelle says her teemates are her family and she cannot miss them, Cyborg says she can’t miss Joanna’s fights and that she enjoys watching Damien Maia and Fabricio Werdum amongst others.
  • What are your favorite things to do outside of the gym? Michelle sheepishly admits that she likes to scrapbook, Paige says she’s outdoorsy anda likes to dirt bike and paddleboard, Cris says she likes to hike and watch movies and spend time with family, Joanna says she likes to shoot some hoops
  • McGregor vs Mayweather? Michelle says MMA all the way, JJ likes Conor, PVZ says she’s excited tor the attention it will bring to MMA. Michelle says she is going to bet some money on McGregor and thinks a lot of people are underestimating his chances.
  • Cyborg says shes gonna show her fans and haters alike why shes undefeated for ten years, she says the day will be her day
  • Paige shouts out Chael Sonnen for bringing her into a new camp, says there will be a fight announcement very, very soon
  • Michelle says that it was snowng while she was shootig the Body Issue photo shoot. She says the things that scare you are what makes you stronger. She wants the body to be something other than sexual, an “atheltc piece of  art”.
  • JJ says she texted dana but is enjoying her vacation. She is relaxing but is happy to be back. She wants to fight in MSG in NY in September

What was your favorite moment from the panel? 

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