Photo by Maddie Smiley
Freshman Hattie Harden walks down the halls with her head held high. She is proud of the time and effort she has put into her mixed martial arts, MMA, fighting and loves the rep it gives her with follow peers.
“At first people are like that’s so cool but after awhile they say, ‘Don’t mess with her. She’ll kick some butt,’” Harden said.
Harden got involved with MMA fighting at the age of eleven. Her second cousin is Ronda Rousey, a UFC fighter who has only had one defeat. Rousey is considered one of the best UFC fighters and inspires Harden everyday to work hard at practices and competitions.
Harden started out just doing Jujitsu when she was eleven, but then decide she wanted broaden her background so she added Sticking to her list.
“Sticking is basically kicking and punching,” Harden said.
After school for around two hours Harden can be found at either Title Boxing or Brass Boxing, working on her skills for upcoming competitions. A typical practice for Harden consists of putting on hand raps, warming up and getting stretched, then running a few punches such as jabs, hooks and undercuts. Harden then puts on gloves and works with her coach for the rest of the session.
Harden competes all around Kansas City, Missouri. At competitions judges are seated in the bleachers so participants can’t identify them.
“They critique you on certain stuff like submissions and where your body is placed. There is also an overall winner if you get the other person tired or if they tap out,” Harden said.
In her past 10 matches Harden has gone undefeated and won a title championship.
“I won the championship for all women, it wasn’t by weight class which most matches are, I’m in lightweight and the girl I was going up against was in bantam weight, a higher weight class, so I was really nervous,” Harden said.
Harden went into the match not expecting to win. She was up against a sixteen year old from Chicago who was in a higher weight class.
“It felt great to win I had so much adrenaline afterwards and I wasn’t expecting to win at all,” Harden said.
Harden wishes all students knew that what she does isn’t considered cage fighting and just because she is an MMA fighter doesn’t make her a mean person.
“People think that we will fight just anybody but our number one rule in the gym is do not take our fighting out of the gym,” Harden said.