Last week, I covered Gulf Coast Mixed Martial Arts Presents Brawlroom Beatdown III, from Biloxi, Mississippi. On that fight card, Sierra Seifert faced then undefeated Bailey-Ray Jackson, in her MMA debut. From the first moments of the very first round, Seifert displayed immense cage presence and performed in such a meticulously aggressive manner that the fight would not advance to the second round.
So, I figured this would be a great time to speak with Sierra and ask her about how she put together such a dominant performance in her first MMA fight, and about what she has planned for the future.
I thought that you had a great performance last week against Bailey-Ray Jackson. I was surprised when I found out that it was your first MMA fight, and that you had a hard time finding an opponent. Why was it so difficult for you to find someone to fight against?
Actually, I have a 5-0 Muay Thai record with three finishes. Because of this and my height and size, it was difficult for me to find opponents. People would either say no, or just pull out of the fight. I’ve always wanted to do MMA, and I’ve trained MMA for as long as I’ve trained Muay Thai. The reason it took so long to find an MMA fight wasn’t for lack of trying, but lack of opportunity. So, I was happy when I had the opportunity to fight Bailey, because she is a really skilled and technical fighter.
How long were you looking for a fight?
I had been looking for about four years. It actually took me a long time to find a Muay Thai fight as well. There aren’t a lot of girls my size. I’ve fought in a bunch of different weight classes. I’ve fought higher and lower than I am now, but I had some bad weight cuts when I was fighting too low.
In your fight last weekend you were very aggressive. Where did that come from? Is it something that you train, or is it natural?
Its kind of just my style. Once I get in there, I’m very goal oriented. I’m unhappy with a decision, and I’m always looking for the finish. It’s something that has progressed from overly aggressive to now technically aggressive. Also, I’m grateful for my Muay Thai experience. If you’re getting beat up in Muay Thai, there’s nothing to do but to fight your way out of it on your feet, you can’t go in for a takedown. So, I think it made me a tougher and more aggressive fighter.
Where do you come from, and what got you into fighting?
I was born in Chicago, but I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. What got me into fighting was that I had some really bad health issues. I struggled with eating disorders, and I was an athlete, so those two things didn’t go hand in hand. When I finished high school and I stopped competing, things got really bad with my weight and my health. I woke up one day and decided that I just didn’t want to live that way anymore. One day I was driving, and I had been looking for self-defense classes, and I passed an MMA gym. I randomly walked in, did one class, and there was a one week trial. And after that one class I was like, screw the trial, sign me up. And five years later, here I am.
“And after that one class I was like, screw the trial, sign me up.”Seifert on her first MMA class.
What’s a typical week like for you? How often are you training and what do you typically train and when?
I am incredibly blessed to have a family and support system that encouraged me to do what I want to do regarding combat sports, and encouraged me to follow my dream. Monday through Thursday I’m doing strength and conditioning during the day, and during the evenings I’m doing jiu jitsu, kickboxing and MMA. On the weekends, I’m doing more cardio-based stuff like running. I’m starting to incorporate more wrestling training now that I’m fighting MMA, because obviously when I was fighting Muay Thai, the focus was more on striking. But, everything that I do is focused on fighting.
Where are you training? Are there any notable fighters training there that you’d like to shout-out?
Ive been with Zero Dojo for four and a half years. That’s the first gym that I walked in to. I do striking and BJJ there. I work at Guy Mezger’s, and I do boxing there. Also, I plan on working more with their wrestling coaches.
As far as a shout-out, I’m a big fan of all my training partners at Zero Dojo. At Mezger’s we have Audrey Wolfe, who’s been training with Guy for 20 plus years. She’s got such a unique style, and she’s a bad ass. We also have Brandon Bennett, who’s a very technical fighter. He’s an amateur right now, but he’s looking for pro fights at 155. Im surrounded by people who are just really good at MMA, and they’re not worried about the brew ha-ha of fighting, they just love MMA and teaching and learning and self-improvement. I’m blessed to be around the fighters that I am.
What do you like most about fighting? What do you feel is your biggest strength?
I never thought that I was an adrenaline junkie, but I love performing in front of the crowd. It’s just really cool, after going through the issues that I had, to feel so empowered and to realize that your body is capable of really cool things. It’s like hey, that’s me doing that stuff, that’s my body doing it. I feel like the reason I do it may be different from the reason that other people do, but’s so freeing to work your ass off, and finally have it pay off, to be in the moment, and to do your best to succeed.
My biggest strength I would say has to be my mental toughness. Throughout my life, I’ve always been tested so rigorously, that for me, to lose a fight, it would either have to be a 3 or 5 round war and, it would be split decision, or me getting knocked the fuck out, because there is just no way that I’m quitting, ever!
“It would either have to be a 3 or 5 round war and, it would be split decision, or me getting knocked the fuck out.”Seifert on her biggest strength.
What was it like the first time that you stepped into the cage/ring? What was going through your mind?
Actually, I was so nervous. Not nervous because I didn’t think I would do well, but the nerves of newness. The butterflies I was having, I hadn’t had since my first Muay Thai fight. My legs were shaking so bad that I couldn’t really feel them underneath me. But, once my opponent came into the cage, it was like a calmness washed over me. When the ref said go, I knew I was ready.
What are your short-term goals? What are you doing to help you get there?
As for short term goals, I’m always wanting to improve. I love learning. I guess if we’re talking about small short term goals, I want my purple belt. I’m a blue with a few stripes, so we’re getting there. I’d like to do some more jiu jitsu tournaments as well. I just want to become as well-rounded as I can be. So, the next time a fight rolls around, the nerves that I have will be nerves of excitement, and never nerves from not doing all that I could to prepare. Hopefully my next fight will be sometime in the summer, but I always hope to find fights earlier than I actually do. We’ll see.
Anything else in store for the future?
The next step we are looking for is to go professional. After my last Muay Thai fight, I felt like I was ready. But, I wanted to have that one amateur MMA fight, just to have it under my belt. I had so much experience with Muay Thai and jiu jitsu, but I felt like I had to do the one amateur fight. It was already so hard for me to find fights, and now that I’m undefeated in Muay Thai and MMA, it’s going to get harder and harder to get amateur fights. So I feel like moving up to professional is the way to go. I want to move up to the next level in this.
Let’s say it’s fight day. How does it begin for you? What do you do leading up to the fight?
Throughout the fight camp, I don’t get nervous until probably three days before the fight. I didn’t get nervous this time until after we drove the ten hours, got to Biloxi, got to the hotel room, and it was like OK, we’re here. But, I want every fight day to be like a regular day. I make breakfast, watch TV. In Biloxi, I went and relaxed at a coffee shop with my coach.
Also, I’m the type of person that needs to have a long warm up. I know some people don’t like to, but I feel like I need to really blow my lungs up beforehand. My warm up usually starts when there are at least three to four fights ahead of me. I need to have broken a sweat before I get in. Usually we’ll get up, do a couple of rounds on the pads, rest, and repeat. I know it might be different, but I feel like I always benefit from a longer warm up.
What has been the highest point of your career thus far?
The highest point, I would probably say, was my last Muay Thai fight. I was coming off of a fight that I really wasn’t happy with. I won it, and it was definitely a war, but I’m somebody that likes to fight technically. So, I spent the following months obsessively trying to correct everything that I thought went wrong in that fight. The buildup to the next fight was really dramatic, and wining it the way that I won it, that was probably one of the happier moments of my life.
How about the lowest?
The lowest point of my career was definitely the fight that I was talking about before. It was ugly and gross. I had lost somebody that was very close to me two weeks before that fight, and I had sponsors that had already paid me, so there was no way that I could have pulled out. I guess the stress of going through that and training caused me to get a stomach ulcer, and I was in so much pain.
When they closed the cage, it took a while for me to get turned up for the fight, and I didn’t perform the way that I wanted. I wasn’t happy at all with that fight. After they announced me as the winner, I went to the back and just cried. It was a lot to be going through, working through the death of someone so close to me and a fight where I thought I performed terribly. That was my lowest point, I don’t think anything will ever go lower than that.
In 20 years when you’re looking back on your career, what would you have had to accomplish in order to think of it as a success?
The thing about being bigger is that there’s really not any kind of belt or world championship that we can win. There’s opportunity to fight, but most people aren’t willing to give us as much of a chance. So, I want to just give it my best, without promoters telling me that they’ll never put me on their cards, like they did a million times before. If I could make it easier for girls that look like me, make it easier for them to fight, honestly that would be a success for me. I’ve already come to terms that there’s not going to be any UFC or Glory kickboxing dream, it’s just going to be me fighting against whoever, whenever.
“It’s just going to be me fighting against whoever, whenever.”Seifert on fighting in the future.
Do you have anything that you’d like to plug, or hopes for upcoming fights? Would you like to shout-out your school/coaches?
I’d love to shout-out my school, Zero Dojo in Rockwall, and Michael Wright, who’s been with me and who’s believed in me since the very beginning. I’d also like to shout-out all of the other teachers there. I’d like to say thanks to Mark Madole from Studio Fit Performance in Dallas. He’s my strength and conditioning coach. And Audrey Wolfe! She’s an incredible teacher and mentor, and a bad ass fighter. As far as upcoming fights, we talked with some guys at Gulf Coast Mixed Martial Arts and they said they would keep me in mind for their August card, but nothing is settled yet. But, when something comes up, I will definitely let you know!