Arlene Blencowe is just over a week away from making her second appearance for Bellator MMA after a stunning debut for the promoter back in May, where she won via TKO. The Mum of two has ridden quite the rollercoaster since making the transition from World Champion Boxer to mixed martial artist, yet despite the rocky start it would seem the only way is up.
Fight News Australia’s Emma Challands caught up with Blencowe to get the low down on her next opponent, her plans to become the face of Bellator’s female 145 division and why the Rousey vs Cyborg fight needs to happen.
Fight News Australia: Thanks Arlene for joining us today. To kick things off why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found your way into in the world of combat sports?
Arlene Blencowe: There comes a time where you sit back and look at your life and start asking yourself questions. After an adversity saw the long-term relationship with my children’s father come to an end, and the only lifestyle I knew, my life was stripped back to its bare shell. I was left asking questions about what I was doing with my life and what type of person I wanted to be. The one overarching thing I knew for sure, was that I wanted to be a positive influence on both of my children – a strong independent woman and a good role model. It was because of this that I embraced the opportunity for a new beginning and a second chance at life. This is where the start of my combat career began and where the fierce desire to succeed was born.
My initial plan was to represent Australia at the 2012 London Olympics as an amateur boxer. I had an extremely busy first two years that saw me travel all over Australia to compete, as well as an international trip to China as part of Australian teams development camp. However due to family commitments and an opportunity that arose, at what seemed to be the perfect time, it was agreed that becoming a professional boxer would suit me best and I made my professional debut in 2012.
Fight News Australia: You made your MMA pro debut in 2013 and had quite a rough start losing four out of your first six fights. Now that you’re on a four-fight win streak, what would you say was the turning point?
Arlene Blencowe: Boxing was a slow process as I only competed twice in 2012. Having been an amateur where I was boxing at least once a month, to competing only twice a year, yet training and committing more time was a little disheartening. In January 2013 I gave in to the idea of taking on MMA fights to keep me active. At first I didn’t like the idea of rolling around on the ground with my training partners (a completely uneducated perception of what BJJ was back then) but I gave it a go and in April, after only 4 months of training, I was offered my debut MMA fight as part of the FightWorld Cup, which happened to be my 30th birthday too! I remember sitting in the sauna cutting weight for this fight and asking myself those life questions again, however this time around I was definitely more proud of the replies I was giving myself.
From April to August 2013 I had six professional MMA fights along with my boxing World Title Fight in New Zealand. It was a very busy period of my life, which didn’t really give me a lot of time to improve on areas in my fight game. I haven’t lost in the cage since then and I plan on keeping it that way. I’ve changed gyms since first year competing and I now have top-level trainers who work relentlessly in making me the fighter and person I am today.
Fight News Australia: You signed with MMA’s biggest promotion, Bellator, outside of the UFC. How did that come about and what was the experience like making your debut against Adrienna Jenkins?
Arlene Blencowe: I can thank my manager, Chris Vender from MMAUm for signing me with Bellator. I was completely blown away at having signed with them. Inititally I was hoping Invicta might have been an option down the track; however having Bellator approach me was a dream come true!
My debut was amazing. The whole experience is something I won’t forget anytime soon. When I stepped into that cage and looked around I remember telling myself that this was my new home; that I will own this cage…and that is exactly what I did. I want to become the first female Bellator Champion, I want to be the female face of the promotion and nothing will stand in my way.
Fight News Australia: Your next fight is against Marloes Coenen, who is 22-6 in her professional career. Despite her obvious experience advantage, this is a really great match up for you stylistically. What can fans expect to see from Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 141?
Arlene Blencowe: They can expect a classy fight between two classy fighters. I’m hoping this bout will showcase the WMMA talent that Bellator has. From me individually, my fans can look forward to a strong performance wherever the fight is taken. I want to break out of the bracket as being known as just a striker.
Fight News Australia: How important is mental preparation coming into a fight like this against Coenen, where a win could cement your place as a genuine future contender at 145?
Arlene Blencowe: Mental preparation in the lead up to any bout is extremely important. I don’t underestimate any opponent nor do I place one on a pedestal. I respect their talents but at the end of the day, we are both human with two legs, two arms, a heart etc. and what defines us is the will to want to win.
Fight News Australia: Should you win against Coenen, whom would you like to fight next?
Arlene Blencowe: I want to fight everyone in the Featherweight division. But I did notice a tweet that I was included in and I would expect to fight Julia Budd. Hopefully for the title!
Fight News Australia: Who in your opinion are the top five female fighters in the world, regardless of promotion and weight division?
Arlene Blencowe: 1) Ronda Rousey – for obvious reasons! She’s an amazing athlete. 2) Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino – I love her relentlessness. 3) Joanna Jedrzejczyk- she’s a weapon. 4) Miesha Tate – the girl’s tough! 5) Holly Holm – she transitioned from boxing to MMA in such style, and we both held the same boxing world title belt (Blencowe proceeded her).
Fight News Australia: There has been a lot of talk about the Rousey vs Cyborg fight. Do you think this fight needs to happen and should it be at a catch weight or 135?
Arlene Blencowe: I would love to watch that fight. If Ronda continues to say she can beat Floyd Mayweather in a fight, then yeah she should back herself and accept the fight at catch weight. However, she is the champ at 135 and Cyborg should have to come down to that weight to fight her. Either way, it’s going to end up being the equivalent to the Pacquiao v Mayweather fight…hopefully it doesn’t take that many years to finally eventuate.
Fight News Australia: Who has been the biggest influence on your career as a fighter and what is one piece of advice you would pass onto the next generation of female mixed martial artists?
Arlene Blencowe: Biggest influence…that’s a hard one. Coming from a boxing background I would have to say that I looked up to fighters such as Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao, mainly because of their own adversities in life that they had to overcome to achieve what they did in the sport.
My advice is to trust the process. Becoming a champion and skilled fighter doesn’t happen overnight. There will be tough days in training, setbacks in your career, highs and many more lows, injuries etc…but with perseverance, determination, hard work and the will to learn, you’ll get there!
Fight News Australia: How important is your support system at home in Australia, especially juggling being a full time athlete and a Mum to two kids?
Arlene Blencowe: My support system is my lifeline. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have a close circle of coaches, friends and training partners who have become like family to me. They not only help me in my career pursuits but also in my everyday life. Definitely helping me to keep sane in my ridiculously busy days of juggling training, clients and a family.
Fight News Australia: Just for fun – if you had to pick one super power what would it be and why?
Arlene Blencowe: Hmmm a super power? It’d be super cool being able to fly and have a bird’s eye view of the world. However having said that if I could have any power it’d have to be something that I could use to better the world; freeing it from poverty, crime, sickness and greed. ‘Angerfist the super hero’ (laughs).
Arlene Blencowe would like to thank the following supporters:
St Johns Park Bowling Club
Tehuna Fight Gym
Toe the Line
Chris Vender from MMAU management
You can find Arlene at: