Makes MMA Debut
There are many different paths to the world of MMA. One of the more unique paths is being blazed by Kali Robbins (0-0), an employee at Roufusport MMA Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Kali started her martial arts journey three years ago and is now taking the next step in her journey this Saturday night at North American Fighting Championships (NAFC): Battle In The Ballroom.
We had the chance to sit down with Kali, and discuss her start in the sport, what its like training with world class athletes on a daily basis, and her thoughts on her fight this Saturday night.
Check out the interview below:
Josh Cardin: So they had some trouble finding an opponent for your debut on Saturday, but a fighter by the name of Angie Jennings answered the call. Angie fought last Saturday at an event in Michigan, losing a tough fought decision. Does that give you an edge in your final preparations, knowing that there is ‘blood in the water’ so to speak?
Kali Robbins: I always figure that if someone loses a fight, they are going to come back in their next one even harder. It just makes me think that she’s probably got a lot more motivation coming into it.
Josh Cardin: Does that kind of light a fire for you in a different kind of way then?
Kali Robbins: Yes, I know how I would be if I lost…I would win the next one, no matter what.
Josh Cardin: That is awesome, you know Kali, you really have an interesting and unique path to the world of MMA, first being an employee at Roufusport MMA Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before making the transition to being a competitor in the cage. How and when did you start at Roufusport?
Kali Robbins: I started at the gym for an increase to my fitness. I heard kickboxing was cool, and thought, ‘yeah, I could do that’ and then, I started really getting into it..the kickboxing, going to jiujitsu, which I didn’t even know what the heck it was when I started. I just wanted to add to my workout schedule, stay in shape and I just fell in love with it. I was finishing up school at the time and I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do. I was bartending and almost training full time with school. Then one day I happened to walk past Scott Joffe’s office and I said, ‘You know, I was looking for something…I’m in marketing, and I don’t really know what kind of job I want to get, but I’d love to anything that is related to MMA or jiu jitsu and kickboxing’ and he said, ‘why don’t you work here?’. I then asked him, ‘Just like that?!’ and I started around 2010.
Josh Cardin: Nice. What is your official title with the gym?
Kali Robbins: I help manage the gym. Basically Duke [Roufus] and Scott [Joffe] own it, and I just started there and basically started filling the position, doing a little bit of everything. From sales, to basic clean up, stuff like that. It then just warped into a whole lot more. I make the schedules, I have employees now, I basically help them run the gym so they can do what they are good at as well…Duke can train the fighters, cut deals, you know, do all of that important stuff that puts us on the map, and Scott can run the fight shows and market the gym.
Josh Cardin: Now, you started your Martial Arts journey back in 2010 when you began taking classes at Roufusport for an added level of fitness. When did the thought of competing first cross your mind?
Kali Robbins: It was actually my coaches, I was terrified. I thought there was no way. When I started training in jiu jitsu, I went to go see Anthony fight in Ohio and they had the Arnold there as well. I saw all of these guys that I had kind of just met and they were all competing. I just said there was no way in hell I was ever going to do that but they just kept on me. My coaches are the ones that said I would surprise myself. They just really believed in me and they told me that it would make me happier by doing it.
Finally, my first jiu jitsu tournament, Omar Choudhury, one of the jiu jitsu instructors at Roufusport was the one that kind of sealed the deal. He asked me why I didn’t do it and I replied, ‘Well, it costs money, and this and that…just explaining that there was no way I could pay for it. He then asked me, ‘What if I pay for you to compete?’ and it was, alright, he’s trying to help me out…I kind of had to compete then and once I started, I couldn’t
Josh Cardin: How did your mind shift from competing in jiu jitsu and grappling competitions to stepping inside the cage into the world of MMA?
Kali Robbins: It’s something I that I have thought about a lot. I figure, I am around fighters 8-10 hours out of the day, training with them, sharing what they are going through and I didn’t really know if it was something that I could do. I just started doing kickboxing and jiu jitsu, boxing and wrestling and I just didn’t really know why I was doing all of it.
It’s something that I thought about every day for the last couple of years and I never really voiced it. I think Duke just took notice but we never had a conversation about it or anything. One day he asked if I would ever be interested in fighting and if so, that he would be able to help me and take me where I needed to be.
Then they pretty much kept on me every day. They kept asking me if I was going to fight…and finally they asked me what I was doing the weekend of the 28th, and when I replied that I didn’t have plans, they told me I was going to fight.
Josh Cardin: A lot of people go to their local dojos or gyms and after a few classes their instructors might tell them that they are pretty good…but with you, those aren’t just any instructors, that is four time world champion Duke Roufus telling you that you have talent. How much does it resonate with you to have these top level coaches, coaching you through classes where you are competing with some of the best mixed martial artists?
Kali Robbins: It’s really crazy to think about. Now, I’m so absorbed into this life that it doesn’t register that they are that amazing anymore. When I think about it, when I put it on paper and take a step back, I’m like ‘Holy S**t!’ Makes me realize that the stuff that I’m doing is legit…it’s not just a ‘hobby,’ ya know? Like I said…its an honor to have Cush or any of the guys say that they think I can go out there and do it. It’s inspiring, if they believe in me, why wouldn’t I believe in me? It’s so crazy when people I haven’t met ask me what I do for a living…I really don’t know where to start.
Josh Cardin: Kali, you are making your MMA debut this Saturday night, how do you envision this fight playing out?
Kali Robbins: You never know how things are going to happen. I have a gameplan, Duke and I have talked about it. I know what I want to do, and that makes me feel secure. Obviously, jiu jitsu is my thing but anybody can do it and anything can happen in there. I know she is a good grappler, I know she is really aggressive, which is really cool, I just know it’s going to be an awesome fight. Definitely, if I could get a submission…anything, really, any submission at all would really put a smile on my face.