Rachel Wray, Chiefs Cheerleader turned MMA Fighter.

Photography:  Jerry Chavez
Contributer:  Dave Jackson

Last year, she was a professional NFL Cheerleader, this year, she is a Mixed-Martial
Artist.  Why would a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader want to become a fighter?  KCMMA sits down with aspiring MMA fighter Rachel Wray to find out.  Rachel makes her MMA debut against Aleigh tillman at Blue Corner this Friday night at Harrah’s in North Kansas City.  

KCMMA:  Obvious first question Rachel.  How and Why did you get in this sport?  I think we both know that you don’t exactly fit the bill for the stereotypical MMA fighter.

Wray:  Last year, I was a Chiefs Cheerleader.  I have been a cheerleader or dancer my whole life and I moved here from arkansas to Cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs.  I started working out at Title Boxing Club with some of the girls for an alternative workout.  I really enjoyed it and started taking private lessons after a little while.  One day,. I came in and they wanted me to spar.  I was nervous about someone actually punching me in the face, but I did it.  

I was absolutely horrible.  This drove me to want it even more.  I knew I had to make a choice between fighting and cheerleading.  I chose fighting.  I trained harder and took more private lessons.  In the same shopping center was HDMMA and I wandered in there to see what was going on.  Everyone was so nice and just not what I expected from a MMA gym.  So, I started training there too.  One thing led to another, and now I feel comfortable enough to compete in the cage.  

KCMMA:  What do you work on at HDMMA to get you prepared?
Wray:  I work on everything there.  I have a strength and conditioning coach named Travis Conley.  He is also my Jiu Jitsu coach.  My Mauy thai Coach is Brian Carroll.  I also work with LC Davis and Jason High on my wrestling.  I am a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness too, but most of my work is with my team.  Jason and LC will be in my corner on Friday.

KCMMA:  How are you getting ready for the fight?  
Wray:  I practice 5 times a week, 2 hours a night.  Running and sprinting.  A few private lessons.  Drinking 2 gallons of water per day.  This has to be your top priority over everything else, sometimes including your job.  

KCMMA:  What do your parents think about you fighting?
Wray:  Mom hates it and Dad loves it.  My mom just doesn’t understand it.  She will be there at my first fight but I think she is really nervous.  

KCMMA:  What is the best part of your game?  
Wray:  I would probably say my striking.
Being your first fight, what do you expect?
Wray:  Well, I plan to win.  I am glad I have done the grappling match so I not quite as nervous.  I want the knock out and hoping that I won’t let the crowd get to me.

KCMMA:  What are you wanting to do with this sport?
Wray:  Right now, I am just going with it.  I hope to fight 4-5 times over the next year.  Of course, I would like to be good enough to be professional, but that just seems away right now.  

KCMMA:  What does it mean for you to be a fighter?  
Wray:  Everyone says “I would never expect you to be a fighter.  Being a cheerleader fits you more”.  “Why would you give up cheerleading to roll around with sweaty boys?”  Well, I have never enjoyed working out so much in my life.  I love fighting and am having so much fun with it.  I want to be an inspiration to other girls out there that want to fight but don’t think they can.  
There are negative perceptions of the sport?  Why would you want to mess up your pretty face.  

KCMMA:  Who inspires you?  
Wray:  Well, my idol is Rhonda Rousey, but I would say my mom is who really inspires me.  She is really successful at her job, she is beautiful, and she can still come home and be a great mom.  Sometimes I think “she is just too good to be real”.  Also, my coach Jason High, really inspires to me.  He is such a great fighter and has taught me everything.  He always eats healthy, trains, and is just someone I really admire.  


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