Mixed martial arts have netted another champion Muay Thai fighter from its ranks with Chelsea ‘Hammer’ Hackett set to make her MMA debut at Eternal 45 this Saturday night on the Gold Coast.
The 20-year-old who claimed gold in the 2014 & 2015 IFMA Muay Thai World Championships began training in Muay Thai when she was 13 but decided to make the switch to MMA a year ago.
After a twenty-week camp because of three opponent changes in the lead up to her MMA debut, Hackett admits it has been an emotional rollercoaster.
“It was emotionally draining,” Hackett told Fight News Australia.
“After the last pull out, I definitely needed my family, my coaches and my partner to help me through mentally. As soon as Monday came around, I was back in the gym and by Wednesday my manager had called me with a new opponent.”
While her opponent is experienced with two mixed martial arts fights, Hackett believes her extensive preparation and Muay Thai experience will be the key to being ready.
“Mel has had 2 fights in MMA already but I’m coming off 23 Muay Thai fights and multiple belts,” Hackett said.
“I’m coming in super confident in my ability. I think she’s going to bring in aggression and strength. She’s from a great team (Tiger Muay Thai) and I’m fully ready for her to be 100% prepared to make a good fight.”
Despite all the changes in opponents and preparing for 20 weeks, Hackett never considered not pursuing her debut in MMA.
“The whole time my manager told me he would find a fight ASAP,” Hackett continued.
“We looked at Adelaide and couldn’t find anyone there, but Mel stood up and was happy to fight me. When I look back on it now it just made me more prepared. I’m physically and mentally stronger and I’ve got more time in the gym under my belt, it’s done nothing to dampen my motivation to make my MMA debut.”
Being an elite striker, Hackett thought the transition into MMA would be an easy one, but she quickly learned that she would have to adapt.
“When I started I thought it would be easy, I thought as a striker I’d walk into an MMA gym and beat everyone.”
While some Muay Thai fighters and kickboxers have struggled in their transition into MMA, Hackett believes she can follow the likes of Israel Adesanya and her idol Valentina Schevchenko and become a top fighter in the sport.
“You have to change your style going in or you’d just get taken down every 10 seconds,’ Hackett said.
“Valentina (Shevchenko) is amazing, her wrestling is amazing, of course her striking is amazing, everything she does is amazing and she’s a great ambassador for the sport.”
Along with Shevchenko, Hackett says her parents have helped to inspire her dream and that she would be nowhere without them.
“They pushed me in fighting, personal life and business and supported my decisions along the way,’ Hackett said.
“They’re the hardest workers I know, and their work ethic has been pushed on to me.”
The work ethic Hackett developed from years of training in Muay Thai has held her in good stead as she picked up the skills required to be a complete MMA fighter. Hackett says working on wrestling and BJJ has given her a renewed passion for martial arts.
“Muay Thai has been my thing since I was a kid and I still love it,’ Hackett said
“But when I started in BJJ, I felt the same passion I felt when I first started Muay Thai. I could always go back to Muay Thai, but I wanted to try MMA for a year and see what I can do, and I’ve been fully into it and I couldn’t be happier.”
The goal for any top fighter is to eventually be a member of the UFC’s roster and Hackett is no different.
“Over the next two years I’ll try and fight as often as I can against top girls. My goal is to get into the UFC by 22. I’m giving myself two years. I want to be as ready as I can be.”
Chelsea Hackett makes her MMA debut on Saturday May 25th at Eternal MMA 45 against Melissa Zeman.