By Matt Little
Jordan Gaza is not your typical teenager. She is currently a senior in high school on the cheerleading squad. When she’s not busy with school activities Jordan spends much of her free time improving her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and working her striking skills. As you may have guessed it, she is an aspiring MMA fighter and looking to make her amateur debut at the age of 17.
Amateur MMA cards are somewhat of a rarity in the Dallas metroplex area. Fortunately, The Texas Amateur Fighting League is hosting a card Saturday November 20, 2010 at The Gym in Arlington. The promotion was in need of some female fighters to help fill out the card and Jordan didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity.
Jordan may be making her amateur debut next month but she is not a new face to combat sports. She began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around the age of 12 and regularly competes in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments all over the State of Texas. She currently holds the rank of blue belt and recently won the Advanced Gi and No Gi divisions at the Atama Open in Houston. She feels that competitions help keep her ground skills sharp. Jordan made a recent move to American Revolution MMA based in Corpus Christi. The majority of her training thus far has been focused on grappling. “This gym is a really good fit for me. The schedule works much better for me and they have a strong focus on stand-up which is what my game needs most right now.” Since the move, she has also had the ability to train with more women since American Revolution MMA has a women’s fight team. Paulina Granados, who will be making her debut in a Muay Thai fight soon has been a big help according to Jordan. “My training has stepped up a lot since switching gyms. I don’t know if this is the norm for this group but it is good timing with my fight coming up soon.”
Being a student in high school and a woman competing in the sport of MMA definitely poses some social challenges. “It’s been really good for the most part. The girls at school seem to handle it well and don’t discuss it with me all day long. The guys on the other hand are a bit much at times with all the questions. Since I’m in my senior year I fortunately have just five classes so my workload isn’t too bad. I’ve been cheering since I was five and I never considered giving it up. A typical day for me is to wake up at 6:00am and go running. Get ready for school. After school I go to the gym to work on cardio and strength conditioning. If I’m not working on my cardio then I’m at cheer practice. After that I go train at American Revolution MMA until about 9:30pm. I feel like if I don’t accomplish all of these tasks I’ve let myself down. All of these things are very important to me and helps keep me focused on accomplishing these tasks.”
MMA has been growing at an explosive rate over the last 5 years. As the sport has expanded we are starting to see more women enter the fray. When asked about her thoughts of women in MMA, “I think it is growing and I hope to see it explode. I think that the amount of female competitors is the biggest limitation right now. More girls will eventually step up and help fill the voids. I hope I can do my part to fill that void.”
Jordan’s fight with Kylie Malone, fighting out of Texas Fighting Syndicate, makes for a traditional striker versus grappler match. “From what I know she is mostly Muay Thai based and has not been all that focused on her ground game. I feel confident in my ground game and aggressiveness. I’m used to sparring with guys so I feel like I’m pretty durable and my strength will be an asset in this fight. The fight is at 120 lbs so I won’t have to cut too much weight.”
Jordan has plans to further her education in college. “I am making my plans after high school around fighting MMA. After I graduate I am planning to attend A&M here in Corpus Christi to pursue a degree in nutrition, and hopefully cheer on the school’s squad. I will continue my training with American Revolution MMA and cross-train at Jackson’s MMA when I can. I’d like to send out thanks to my coach Freddy Medellin. I don’t know what I would do without him, all the girls on our fight team, and most importantly my parents. I don’t know any other parents that have given this kind of support.”
-Matt Little is currently a blue belt under JD Shelley at North Dallas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (NDBJJ) and an MMA writer.