Kayla Hracho is one of the most active amateur mixed martial artists out there today. In just over a year’s time she has already fought seven times and has another bout coming up on June 2nd at WCFL 21 for the World Class Fight League. Despite her busy training schedule, Kayla was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us. She tells about being apart of the Invicta FC Tournament, bouncing back from her first loss, the importance of self promotion, the struggles she had in school, and the importance of never giving up on your dreams.
Kayla is a returning guest and always gives great and insightful answers. You can read here previous interview here.
FRMMA: Since we last spoke you have been up to some really big things, one of them was being selected to take part in an eight women tournament where the winner receives an Invicta FC contract. What was your reaction when you first heard the news that you would take part in this tournament?
Kayla: I came across information on the tournament online, and immediately contacted someone about being a part of it. They responded to me that day and accepted me. I was definitely excited to test my skills against some good competition and fight to earn that professional Invicta contract.
FRMMA: Unfortunately, you were not able to win the first round but what lessons did you learn from the loss?
Kayla: They weren’t lying when they said you learn more from a loss than a win! I learned a ton. I lost a really close split decision fight, and it was my first loss in MMA, and my first loss in over 3 years (boxing). It was a really hard pill to swallow. I truly believe I was the better fighter and that I made a few small mistakes that cost me the fight. On Monday I got right back into the gym to work on those mistakes and to prepare for my next fight, just two weeks away in Panama City, Panama for the strawweight title.
FRMMA: You were able to bounce back and get a submission victory in your next fight, how anxious were you, if at all, to get back in the cage to wash the taste of defeat from your mouth?
Kayla: After having a day to completely sulk in the loss, I knew I had to move forward and refocus. I was determined to not just beat the next girl, but dominate her and finish her. That last thing I wanted was to leave it in the judges’ hands again. There’s nothing I hate more than losing, but at the end of the day, I’m a fighter and I fight. I work hard every single day to learn and improve so I’m sure to bring a different me every time I compete in the cage. Fighting in the Panama tournament was such an incredible experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do learn and do what I love, a lot.
FRMMA: You’ve fought once already in 2018, you have another fight coming up on June 2nd. Were you always the hyper kid in class? What I meant by that is do you like to stay busy, has that always been your demeanor growing up?
Kayla: Haha. This question made me laugh, mostly because it is spot on. I was a very hyper child and was diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old. It affected me negatively for a while. I had so much trouble focusing and would get in trouble for talking, being distracted, etc. My grades really suffered and I was ineligible multiple times for school sports. When I started training boxing at age 23, I had just graduated college. Training helped calm me down. It gave me purpose and direction. Plus, if you don’t focus in fighting, you’re going to get punched in the face. Since I started training 4 years ago, I haven’t stopped. With training, working, eating and sleeping, there isn’t time for much else. However, I enjoy staying busy, especially while doing what I love.
When it comes to competing at the amateur level, I’m just looking to get as much experience as possible before stepping up to the pro stage. This isn’t something I want to rush or to “do it just to do it.” My goal is to have a successful fight career, and I know gaining experience now will help prepare me for the next level.
FRMMA: With having so many fights back to back do you feel like you are in a training camp or do you feel like you are in a yearlong training camp?
Kayla: This will be my 7th fight in a year. I definitely feel like I’ve been in a training camp since my first day at ATT. I started MMA at age 25 (a year and a half ago) which makes me kind of a late starter and there’s so much I want to learn and accomplish. Although it has felt like one long training camp, I’m constantly changing up my training and seeing my game evolve. I’m in the gym 2-3 times a day Monday through Saturday, always. I’m on a mission to be the best mixed martial artist I can possibly be! I can’t fight and compete forever, so the time is now, and I’m certainly not wasting any time.
FRMMA: Along with staying active inside the cage and in the gym, you are very active and gracious with your time when it comes to interviews. Why is it important for fighters to be out there promoting themselves?
Kayla: It’s no secret that being likable and marketable is a HUGE part of succeeding in this sport. Being a fighter doesn’t stop when you walk out of the gym. I’m always looking for different opportunities to network with people and promote myself/my brand. Therefore, I never EVER say no to an interview. I don’t care if the person/media outlet has 5 followers. If I can gain one fan, or inspire one person through my story, then it’s worth it. If I don’t gain a fan or inspire anyone, well, at least I’m practicing my interviewing skills!
FRMMA: How are you feeling both mentally and physically as you approach your fight on June 2nd?
Kayla: I feel better than ever. I am extremely focused and am working non-stop to build my game. Being at American Top Team for a year and a half, I have gotten one-of-a-kind experience and training. For this camp, I’ve been working diligently with Din Thomas (ATT head coach and one of the best in the game), Gillian Robertson (fighting at UFC Liverpool) and Jose “Shorty” Torres (two division Titan champ, fighting at UFC Utica). I also recently started working with mental performance coach, Toby Larson. I see myself evolving, mentally and physically, every day and cannot wait to get out there and perform again.
FRMMA: As you come near the fight date what things are you looking to work on in the gym?
Kayla: In the last two weeks or so, I am still working, learning and fine-tuning. My training becomes more technical and specific. I also am focused on nutrition and getting my weight down while still maintaining my strength. Ultimately, I am honing in on my game-plan and making sure I am 100% mentally focused to step in the cage and perform my best.
FRMMA: You recently came up on your one-year anniversary since your first MMA fight. What revelations have you learned about yourself in that time, both good and bad?
Kayla: Oh wow. I’ve learned a lot about myself. If I had to choose…
The Good: I’m tough as nails, and can overcome anything. This journey hasn’t been easy for me. I showed up at ATT with just my boxing experience. I had my very first wrestling class and jiu-jitsu class among some of the best fighters in the world. I was thrown into the wolves and had to learn how to survive. My first year at ATT was the hardest. I moved away from everyone and everything I knew. I was getting my ass kicked and arm-barred every few seconds. I not only lasted through the fire, but I thrived. I’m only getting better, stronger and more resilient every day.
The Bad: I am way too hard on myself. For a while, I was taking things too seriously and often leaving training upset. I was always frustrated during training and it would affect my performance for the rest of session. It has taken a lot of time and practice, but I am much more patient with myself. I now understand that being too hard on myself inhibits my growth as a fighter. I am learning to be in the moment and adapt; and learn from my mistakes, rather than dwell on them.
FRMMA: You once stated on an Instagram post that, “It doesn’t matter who believes in your journey, as long as you believe in yourself, have faith, and put in the work.” What advice would you give any young fighter who is thinking about training and fighting?
Kayla: I would tell a young fighter to find their “Why”, and allow that to push them through hard times. Being a fighter is a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you feel like you’re on top of the world, sometimes you feel like you’re being crushed by it. Keep working hard, especially on the days you don’t want to. Stay consistent and hungry. Remember why you started. Don’t worry about what the voices on the outside are saying about you or to you, but rather, what you’re inner voice is saying to you. Focus on getting a little bit better every single day. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!
EliteOps Energy, Dethrone, Society Nine, 2Tru Studios, York Athletics Mfg, Iron Jaw Custom Mouthguards and Prototype Combat Team
Follow Kayla on Social Media:
Instagram & Twitter: @KayrockMMA
Facebook: Kayla Hracho MMA