By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
According to Merriam-Webster, an actor or actress:
“a person who acts in a play, movie, etc.”
With this as an acting definition, roles of any persona are open to takers. A-list celebrities play war heroes, passed away musicians, or voice cartoon characters. In the movie Fight Valley: Knockaround Girls, the Writer/Director, Rob Hawk, cast a trio of women who currently star on a stage defined: as real as it gets. Already performers inside the cage: Miesha Tate (“Jabs”), Cris Cyborg (“Church”), and Holly Holm (“Payton”); these three top-tiered mixed martial artists will test their performing chops outside the cage involving: an adjustment of lighting, a layer of make-up, and artistry that begins at the sound of a clapper, instead of ending.
Appreciating the tapestry of a mixed martial artist’s bout rests on their overall execution, and the world of film parallels a scale of judgment. If it’s a movie about an underground women’s fighting syndicate, which outlines Fight Valley’s premise, the most technically accurate cast would gather a collection of world-class female fighters.
The Tale of the Tape
In an interview, Hawk described the movie as,
“We are going to take a little bit of The Outsiders (1983) mixed with, if you remember the movie: Tough Enough (1983) with Dennis Quaid.”
The scene is set: a cast of women willing to breathe life into the underground fight organization residing in Fight Valley. Hawk wrote the script of Fight Valley to extend beyond mere fight scenes, including artful nuances of setting and character development to delight fights fans and movie-buffs alike. In an interview with Cassie Crisano, also a fighter and actress who plays “Mia” in Fight Valley, attested to a deeper essence projected in her prescribed lines:
“It’s more of a love story between two sisters. Windsor and Tory are sisters who were separated, due to a divorce of their parents: one sibling went with one parent, and the other went with the other. Tory ends up getting herself involved in some underground fighting, which inevitably, leads to her death. Windsor came back to town in vengeance to find out what happened to her sister.”
Intentionally, or not, Crisano slipped into a character-like state, reflecting hints of “Mia” to anecdote her own role in the film,
“My character in the movie is “Mia” who is best friends with “Gracie” and “Church.” We hang out at “Stakes”’s Gym, and we are pretty much fight starters. We go around and start fights with everybody and bring them back to “Stakes” to make some money off of them.”
On Fight Valley’s opening night, your next steps should include: silencing your phone, nestling into your seat, and ensuring your snacks are within an arm’s reach because action will take on a whole new meaning.
Keys to Victory
In any setting, a necessary element to aid success is passion. Artists who are passionate about their creations incite reactions from spectators. In a YouTube interview, Hawk discussed Fight Valley, and his devotion to his craft is palpable. For those who are unaware of Hawk’s ability to design vivid video stories. Warp yourself into the Director/Writer’s world by clicking on the embedded music videos below:
Not only the director, Hawk was the writer and performer in the embedded music videos. Fan of rap music or not, it wouldn’t defy logic to assume quality as this could have featured on a VH1 countdown. Engaged in a three-minute musical tale constructed by Hawk, it’d be a safe assumption that an audience’s focus wouldn’t waiver given the span of a full-length cinematic feature.
During the interview, Hawk’s youthful appearance brightened as he reflected on where his love of filmmaking originated,
“We started shooting music videos; we started shooting skateboarding videos, and I just fell in love with filming. Everything I did, or my friends did, we would turn it into a little short movie, or whatever. I just thought it was so cool; I became so obsessed with filming that I would sit in my room and create videos. It turned into, almost like, a sickness.”
Over the years of expanding elements of production value, Hawk’s interest in fine-tuning his art hasn’t subsided; in fact, it’s exponentially compounded. He continued,
“Here I am years later, and I think I’m more deeply involved now. I probably spend sixteen hours a day in the studio. If I’m not writing, I’m editing; if I’m not editing, I’m filming; and if I’m not filming, I’m writing the next film.”
Hawk isn’t alone in speaking out about the innovation seized in the lines of Fight Valley; the Director of Photography, Michael Lucas, elated at bringing form to Hawk’s creativity:
“Obviously, it’s going to be professional, but it’s going to have a gritty feel. We want it to look raw; we want it to look rough, and it’s going to come out in the cinematography.”
Of course, trying to get the Writer/Director and the Director of Photography to speak ill of their project is like persuading a cornerman to throw in the towel. On episode 82 of Cage Side Submission Radio (CSSR), “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson sounded intrigued when confronted with the topic of Fight Valley. Since Waterson and Holm are training partners, Waterson had a bit of background knowledge on the film,
“I have heard of it. I talked with Holly a little bit about it; she seems to be very excited.”
Would another elite female cage-fighting specialist like Waterson also be interested in finding herself in Fight Valley?
“I love to take up on opportunities. If the opportunity presented itself, of course, I would love to. I’d have to be a badass character!”
Waterson also touched on a relevant point that intensifies the allure of such a film,
“That’s pretty interesting that he [Hawk] is using actual fighters in the same weight class, and they are going to have to work with one another; I’m pretty interested to see how that pans out.”
Movies like Bloodsport (1988) or T.V. shows like Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001) allowed viewers to suspend their disbelief in maybes and what-ifs because actors like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris were practicing martial artists, and the same could be said for a movie like Fight Valley whose cast could form a functional fight team of champions amongst themselves.
When It Goes to the Judges’ Scorecards
The line has been tattooed into the minds of all: Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges. When it comes to art forms beyond pretzeled metal with padded posts, judging is the only place it can go. A product is created out of joy, but when that creation is circulated for others to discover its beauty for themselves, the eye of the beholder holds up the scorecard of its choosing.
Often, fans of MMA are quick to count out a UFC fight card because it’s labeled a UFC Fight Night versus a pay-per-view. Phrases are tossed around to diminish the value that every UFC event potentially showcases; hence, it’s backdrop as the organization that rosters the world’s greatest fighters. At UFC Fight Night Sydney, Australia on November 7, 2014, the event comparably towed in question marks, but the evening was punctuated by eleven out of eleven finishes and wall-to-wall action four times over.
There is simplicity in judging books by their covers. By casting something aside before it even has a chance to take shape closes off the potential for enrichment that an open heart welcomes. Hawk faces criticism to his film head-on; he’s made weight and addresses his naysayers with one final stare down before quieting the set,
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this movie a million times. Sounds like something I’ve seen. It does. It has tastes of other things in it, but every movie that comes out has tastes of other movies. The storyline doesn’t have tastes of other movies; it’s different, and I think people are really going to enjoy it.”
One of my favorite authors is Donald Murray (1924-2006). I’m fascinated by his ability to translate abstractness into simplicity in his writings. Donald Graves (1930-2010) is another top author who I’d recommend to any reader, and he admittedly derived his writing prowess from the instruction of Murray. When I read a book written by Graves, I’m lost in his moments and teachings; overall, enjoying a good book. If I magnify my pattern recognition while reading, I undoubtedly notice similarities between Graves and Murray, but this sameness removes none of the greatness, unfolding page after page. The same can be true of movies, pixelating frame by frame.
For more information on Fight Valley go to:
Check out the interviews referenced:
Give a listen to Episode 82 of CSSR or others at:
Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut
Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.
Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) December 9, 2017
The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar. While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.
Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.
Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.
Andrea Lee on USADA Drug Test Failure “You can get Suspended for Anything”
MMA Latest spoke to recently signed UFC flyweight Andrea “KGB” Lee about her delayed UFC debut, and potential opponents on this season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Lee (8-2) signed with the UFC in September, and was set to make her promotional debut just a few weeks after at UFC 216. However, “KGB” was quickly pulled from her scheduled fight with Kalindra Faria, due to fighters with previous USADA violations having to serve a six-month period in the testing pool before fighting.
Q: I’m interested to get your thoughts on how things are going on The Ultimate Fighter: Season 26, have you been watching closely?
I have! I’m still glad I didn’t sign up for TUF, I’m happy I stayed home so I could watch from afar and continue to get my own training in. I’ve been keeping up with it, trying to study my future opponents I’ve already got my eye on some I would like to compete against.
Q: You decided to fight Liz Tracey instead of committing to the tryouts for TUF 26, but you said you don’t regret that, why?
I had already injured my back, so going into the house at that time with an injury wouldn’t have been smart. Secondly, I felt like I was already established enough as a fighter, most fighters on the show need help to be seen, but I already feel like I have a good following. I was comfortable fighting with Invicta and LFA until I got the call-up for the UFC.
Q: Can you please clear up why you failed a USADA test back in 2016, I believe it was revealed you took a diuretic, but you were unaware it was on the banned list?
Firstly, I’ve never taken steroids, I didn’t fail the test because of steroids and I was not aware that fluid pills (diuretics) were used as a masking agent.
People need to be aware that you can get suspended for anything.
I used the fluid pills because I swell and bloat a lot, it’s very uncomfortable. I didn’t realise people use them for masking steroids. If in competition you can get suspended for like ibuprofen and sleep aids, they’re always changing the banned substance list.
Q: You tested positive for the diuretic after you loss to Sarah D’Alelio, was the weight cut for this fight rough and did it hinder your performance on the night?
I took it for the weight cut for that fight yes, but I don’t think it hindered my performance. I was paranoid and thinking that I needed it in that moment, because I was bloating and retaining water. I didn’t think twice about it and took it thinking it would help my period and the fact that I was bloated.
Q: When will your six month suspension be over, and are you eyeing any specific dates/opponents for your UFC debut?
I’ll be done at the end of March next year, I joined the USADA testing pool right as I signed my UFC contract in September. I think April is when I may fight, we don’t have an opponent in mind yet, we’re waiting to see how TUF 26 plays out.
Who would you like to see Andrea Lee face in her UFC debut? Let us know below!
Pannie Kianzad on Becoming a Full-Time Fighter
Invicta FC bantamweight Pannie Kianzad recently shared some exciting personal news – that she is now able to devote herself full-time to her fighting career. Speaking to MMA Latest, Kianzad explained how her new full-time status came about.
— PannieBanzaiKianzad (@PannieKianzad) May 29, 2017
“Me and my boyfriend have been talking about this for a long time,” the Swede began. “I’ve always wanted to do this since I got into MMA and to have the time to put everything into it. Since I’ve signed with Invicta, it’s even more important because I’m fighting against the best in the world. Ilaz moved down from Stockholm and moved in with me, he said ‘when I get a full-time job and everything is good, then you can quit your job’. So now he is working for a really good company and I only work one, maybe two days, just to pay for my train card to get to the gym.”
There are, of course, a plethora of benefits for a fighter who is able to enjoy full-time status, but, for Kianzad, the biggest difference is not the extra time to train, rather the after-training aspects. “I still train the same amount,” she explained. “I still do one or two classes a day, like I did when I was working full-time, but now I get my recovery time, which is just fucking amazing. I get to sleep! But not only that, I get to work on my own things and what I want to do for the future too.”
One such project that the 25-year old will get to work on is brand of fight and training apparel. “I have my brand – Kianzad gear,” she began. “Everything is fine, I just don’t have the money yet to go full in on it. The design work and what I want to create is done and the samples are all really good. That’s one thing I’m working on – saving up and looking for sponsors for that.”
Logo for Kianzad Wear
Anyone who follows “Banzai” on social media will know that she recently returned from America, where she took the chance to train at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, as well as spend time with one of the biggest names in women’s MMA. “The main reason I went to Vegas was for the TUF tryouts,” Kianzad revealed. “I didn’t tell anyone about that. I was trying out for the 135 category, which got cancelled three weeks beforehand – So that sucked! We were thinking whether or not to go, but then I was like ‘this is our only vacation time’ so we took the opportunity to go anyway.”
“I talked to my friend Ray Elbe and was going to train with Cris (Cyborg), but she had to fly out to Brazil for a commercial or something, but she missed her flight. So we drove down to Huntington Beach and had lunch with them. It was nice talking to a female fighter who is at the top. She motivates me a lot and has always been one of my favourite fighters, but she is a really good person too.”
— #UFC214 #LetsGoChamp (@criscyborg) May 27, 2017
Something that always seems to shine through with Invicta FC fighters like Kianzad is the great relationship and affinity they have towards the organisation, as well as the owner, Shannon Knapp. This is refreshing to see given the current climate of public disputes between fighters and promoters. “Shannon believes in us,” Kianzad explaned. “It doesn’t matter what we look like, if we win or if we lose, she respects us as professional athletes. That is the biggest reason. And fighters in all organisations should be respected because we fight and train hard, but we don’t make that much money.”
Kianzad recently made her professional wrestling debut at a show in her native Sweden. While her immediate focus is on her MMA career, Kianzad enjoyed the change of scenery. “It was so much fun,” she smiled. “The whole experience was really fun because I didn’t have this huge pressure on my shoulders to win. It was just about having fun, and the pro-wrestling crowd are amazing. It was a huge adrenaline rush and I would love to do it again, because apparently I had a really good debut and not many do.”
As for when fans can expect to see her back in the cage, Kianzad has most certainly got a date in mind and, now injury free, she wants her appearances on cards to become a more regular occurence. “I am hoping for the July Invicta card – And I know my fans are asking for me to be on that card too. I like to fight often if I am healthy, which I am now, I am in great shape. So when I am healthy I prefer to have 3, maybe 4 fights per year.”
With her new status as a full-time MMA fighter, fans can expect to see much more of Pannie Kianzad as well as continued improvements from the young prospect.
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