Rios, whose dyed hair and bright eyes belie her age, practices at the Academy six nights a week. Even more than many of the young men I spoke to for this article, Rios has aspirations to grow her MMA career. In other words, she thinks about going pro.

She has an appropriate role model, then, at the Academy, where she trains with Amanda Buckner, a professional MMA competitor who has fought and won in numerous competitions including the Rocky Mountain Slammer, Ultimate Athlete, Grapplers Quest, and the Extreme Challenge. (Buckner is married to Jay Jack, with whom she co-owns the Academy.)

"Like any woman's sport, we're always behind [the male version]" in both training and competition opportunities, says Buckner, who has been fighting for almost 10 years.

Of course, the novelty aspect has both drawbacks and benefits. One of the latter: If there's a women's fight on the card, "it steals the show," Buckner says. Audiences still go crazy for the novelty of catfights, it seems.

Rios, for whom the Fight Night II bout will be her second time in the cage, believes female fighters have a tough time combating stereotypes. "You have to put a lot more out there," she says after a recent sparring practice, where she held her own against Buckner, Jack, and fellow fighter Paul Gorman. "There's more expected of you. You have to prove to people that you can fight even though you're a girl. You have to have more guts. Or balls, if you will."

Mixing it up

Wondering which martial arts are mixed to create this combat sport? Here's a list of some (but not all) of the disciplines employed by those training and fighting as MMA competitors.

• BOXING* Fists only, gloves

• WRESTLING* Grappling, no striking

• JUJUTSU Ground fighting (pins, joint locks, submissions)

• MUAY THAI Stand-up striking, with hands, feet, knees, and elbows

• KICKBOXING Kicking and punching

• TAEKWONDO* Kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes; sweeps and throws

• KARATE Striking art that uses punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and open hands

• JUDO* Emphasizes throws and takedowns

*Olympic sport

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  | 
Related: The local cagefighting scene takes off, Review: Real Steel, Fake It So Real considers the arts of storytelling and bodyslams, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Maine, Boxing, mixed martial arts,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE  |  July 24, 2014
    When three theater companies, all within a one-hour drive of Portland, choose to present the same Shakespeare play on overlapping dates, you have to wonder what about that particular show resonates with this particular moment.
  •   NUMBER CRUNCHERS  |  July 23, 2014
    Maybe instead of devoting still-more resources to food reviews, Maine’s leading news organizations should spend money on keeping better tabs on Augusta.
    Among last year’s 100 top-grossing films, women represented just 15 percent of protagonists, and less than one-third of total characters.
    Former Mainer Shanna McNair started The New Guard, an independent, multi-genre literary review, in order to exalt the writer, no matter if that writer was well-established or just starting out.
  •   NO TAR SANDS  |  July 10, 2014
    “People’s feelings are clear...they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capitol of the United States."

 See all articles by: DEIRDRE FULTON