You are a new fighter to the scene. What can you tell people about yourself? What are you looking to bring to the women’s 135lb division in the future?
Mae-Lin Leow: Well, I’m new to MMA but not exactly new to combat sports. MMA is a sort of “second chance” for me. Illness and injury forced me out of Muay Thai for a while, but it was during this time that my desire to transition into MMA really grew. It hasn’t been an easy journey and I’m still in the process of increasing my skill-set to the point where I can be considered a well-rounded MMA fighter, but every moment I just remember that what I’m doing now was once just the dream of a sick, bed-ridden woman. I love what I do!
You lost your first fight this last October in a 3 round decision. Having watched that fight I notice it was even going into that 3rd round and it appeared you started to get tired. Do you think nerves played a role in your conditioning late? What did you learn from that fight and how do you think it helped you for future fights?
Mae-Lin Leow: My impression of that fight was actually a little different. I felt that, after being stuck in back control for most of the third round, I was down on points when I came out for the third. I didn’t feel like any lack of fitness or conditioning played a role, as I felt that I won the third round decisively with my striking. However, it wasn’t enough to win the whole fight. I was nervous for the fight, and while I don’t think that my nerves played a role, I think that ring-rust may have had something to do with the fact that it took me a while to settle down and find my rhythm. The biggest lesson that I took from that fight was that I needed to work more on wrestling and scramble situations. You’ll notice in the second round that I scrambled the wrong way and gave up my back, and ended up with the position which cost me time and points. That won’t happen again.
Your second loss, once again things went bad in the 3rd round. This time getting caught in a mount and stopped. Do you take lessons from tough losses or do you like to put them in the rear view mirror and just move on to the next?
Mae-Lin Leow: Of course I take lessons from losses, I’d be a fool not to. It’s demoralizing to lose by any kind of stoppage, but I did show a progression in my skill-set between my first and second fights. I’d been working a lot on my wrestling in the lead-up to my second fight and was eager to land a good take-down and get on top and finish the fight. Unfortunately I was a bit too eager and tried to transition to a double-leg from a loose single and ended up getting sprawled on and mounted.
What are your thoughts on the UFC adding a women’s 135lb division and the fighters they’ve signed? Ronda Rousey? Miesha Tate? Liz Carmouchie? What do you think the future holds for women’s mma?
Mae-Lin Leow: I think it’s fantastic that the UFC has added a women’s division. It will take time to see the level of commitment the UFC holds to this division and how credible it is. At the moment, I believe that Invicta FC is a more established and legitimate organization for female fighters.
Do you envision yourself with the elite women in the world one day and what parts of your game do you think you still have to work on the most to get there?
Mae-Lin Leow: It’s no secret that I’m relatively new to grappling, so my BJJ and wrestling will obviously be areas to focus on.
What are your thoughts on Cris Cyborg refusing to go from 145lbs to 135lbs to fight Rousey and asking for her release? Do you think it was fear or do you agree that it was unhealthy for a woman to cut that much weight?
Mae-Lin Leow: I think it was reasonable. Cyborg is a lean 145lbs, and has stated that she walks around at 170lbs. She may have been able to make 135lbs once or twice, but it is possible that it may have been an unhealthy weight for her to fight at consistently in the long-term. Female athletes do have to bear in mind factors such as bone density when it comes to nutrition and weight-loss.
What’s the immediate future hold for you? Any fights scheduled?
Mae-Lin Leow: My next fight is on March 16th on MMA Downunder 3 in Adelaide. It’s the first time Adelaide will see full A-Class rules in a cage, which I have been campaigning for/with the government since 2008. My fight will also be the first WMMA fight in SA, and it will be the first time I’ve fought in my home-town since a Muay Thai fight back in 2007. That was six years ago, and I’m a different fighter and a different woman now. Make sure you don’t miss it!