Interview with female MMA fighter, Elaina Maxwell

Elaina Maxwell has been a repeated and decorated champion in San Shou, Grappling, and MMA. Her MMA career has taken her all around the world and has presented her with many fights against other veteran MMA fighters like Miesha Tate. This interview was taken right before the Strikeforce Challengers Washington, where she was scheduled to fight the next day. Elaina won that fight by TKO 2:55 of the first round at FCF 44. She is currently training for a MMA title fight at Raging Wolf in Niagara Falls on August 28th against Alexis Davis.


What did you think of the Sarah Kaufman Vs Roxanne Modaferri fight we just watched?

I think she gave her a run for her money. I don’t think Sarah Kaufman’s strikes are that powerful. She looked like she was grazing Roxanne. The power bomb, now that was pretty dominant; I have to give that up to Sarah.

How are you feeling about your fight coming up tomorrow?

I’m feeling pretty good, chilling out and relaxing. It’s midnight here so it’s like ten o’clock in California. I stay up really late. I normally go to bed around three or four and sleep until noon. Then I go train. I like to train at night because you fight at night. Why would you train at 10 o’clock in the morning when you fight at like midnight? I start at like six except for Sundays when I have double days about 11:30. Then I do Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and things like that. My training schedule is like all over the place. I don’t like to have a plan and have the same training regimen week after week. Your body gets used to it if you have the same workouts week after week. So maybe Tuesdays and Wednesdays I will have double days or Wednesdays and Thursdays double days. Some weeks I don’t even do double days. It just depends on how my body feels.

Do you have a few typical arts that you train consistently or do those flow like that as well?

I do wrestling and stand up every week. I keep my cardio up. I run, do cross fit, pad work, and my Jiu-Jitsu is key. I think it’s really important to work the GI. It slows down the game for me to work on actual technique. I spar with some of the best people in the world here in Northern California.

When did it come together that you were going to be on this fight card?

About a month ago. I was looking for a fight at that time. I was supposed to fight in May against Davis. I had some injuries, so I had to pull out. Now after this it looks like I’ll be fighting again in another five weeks…against the titleholder, Davis and it’s going to be five rounds. I’m fighting somebody tomorrow first so I’m focusing on her right now.

Do you have a game plan you’re focusing on for tomorrow? What have you mocked up about your opponent?

I’ve not fought in a year, so I’ve been focusing on my cardio, wrestling, and my fitness mainly. I want to focus on my weaknesses more than my strengths. People do not like to do what they’re not good at. For this fight I focused on what I was not good at; that way I have a more well-rounded game. This time too I focused a lot more on my BJJ. There were a couple of guys on the Strikeforce card tonight that should have focused on their wrestling. The right formula really is to work on what you’re not good at. She knows I have really good stand up so she’s going to try to take me down. Well I have been wrestling for over a decade so maybe that won’t be such a good idea. I guess we will find out tomorrow night.


Do you feel like you have a disadvantage because you have not fought for so long?

Not really. I have just been sitting back and watching women’s MMA and how it is now more appealing to society and the general public. Two years ago it wasn’t as appealing and not everyone even really wanted to see it. Now there is a title fight on Showtime. That is pretty impressive.

What sort of plans do you have for your career now that women’s MMA is at this level?

I just want to fight. At this time I’m not going to sit here and plan everything out. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket or you’re going to get let down. Sometimes it’s best to take it one fight at a time. Right now I have two eggs in my basket, maybe three. I’m going to be fighting tomorrow night and again in five weeks, so that’s my plan.


Who have you been working the most with recently? Who keeps you motivated?

They had been working with my gym, CSA (Combat Sports Academy) here in Dublin, California and also with Cesar Gracie at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve been training a lot in Pleasant Hill and also have been training a lot with Nick and Nate Diaz at Gracie. At CSA we have some of the best female fighters in the world. I’ve never had so many female teammates in my life. No matter what anybody says, training with only men, it’s really hard to mimic the finesse and power of a female fighter.

Sounds like a great training camp.

I was training the other day with Bautista, a very famous wrestler, and it was really amazing, and then with a really great kickboxer. It’s fun to train with a wrestler who really wants to learn the game. It is very exciting…all of my training.

At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to be a professional fighter?

It kind of just fell into my lap. I didn’t wake up one morning and think, ‘you know I want to be a cage fighter’. It does not make any money. Honestly I never thought I would fight in a cage. I played college volleyball. It’s funny because it’s like a traditional non-contact sport. I just took a cardio kickboxing class one summer and I came out addicted to it. I just fell into the sport and so here I am.


What was your focus when you weren’t fighting for a while?

School. I got my bachelors from San Jose State. You have to have a backup plan. I mean there’s fighting and there’s a lot going on in the sport, but you know that’s what Gina Carano did. She did some fighting and now she has her movie career.

Other than MMA, what other major life goals do you have?

I would like to get married and I would like to have children. I would like to open my own school. I love teaching other people. I really like to be a role model for other people. I have traveled the world and have a lot of experience in this sport…from promoting events, etc. I know how it all works…from the promoters, the managers, and the news business. I know this business inside and out. I know how to smell a rat in this industry. It’s not the most honest industry. So I want to be involved in the fight game for a long time. I also really want to focus on myself and I really want to get married. You know have a family, a home and live happily ever after.

What makes you happy outside of sports?

My boyfriend is a good answer. My boyfriend and my family. I spent a lot time with my sister and my friends after moving back to California. I was living in Vegas for a couple of years and, you know, living in Vegas was an awesome experience. I trained with the Team Couture and at Tapout. It was really an awesome experience, and then I moved back to California. I had renters in California and while I was in Vegas they pretty much trashed the place. So I needed to come back and take care of it myself.

Are you in touch with Kim Couture right now and are you a part of everything she’s doing in the fight game?

I got really close with her in Vegas and I’m very aware of what’s going on with her and her circle. We do not really talk that much about fighting together. There’s more to life than fighting and I train every day so I don’t want to talk about it all the time. I haven’t had that conversation with her yet, but I probably will have that conversation sometime in the future. I have heard about what she’s got going on from other people. I think she will do well. She is such an awesome business person and she’s got so many great ideas. She knows business so she’s taking over the market. So watch out.

What is it like to train with the Diaz brothers? Do you get to roll around with and spar with them?

I have rolled with them a couple of times. They are not what they seem. They are really awesome and they are very humble. They train with Cesar Gracie and they are both very talented. I really wanted to do a triathlon. Caesar and Nick got me into that. I’m going to do my first triathlon on October 31. So I’m going to start training triathlons. I think it’s a 6-mile run, a 1-mile swim and a 22-mile bike ride. So I just need to raise about $2200, which I did the last time I did a bike ride for diabetes. I got funds and sponsors from all over the world. I think that a lot of fighters out there should do something like this for someone else. They’re a lot of selfish fighters out there. It is a very selfish industry because if you’re going to be successful you have to bring a lot of attention on yourself. I think a lot of fighters out there should do some more community work. They don’t because they don’t have to. I think it would feel good to give back to the community. Another organization that I work with is called Knock Out Dog Fighting. Something we do is go to different places and talk about dog fighting. It’s actually very prevalent in local culture. Even professional athletes like Michael Vick got into dog fighting. We speak to them and let them know that they don’t have to be a part of that because that was how they were raised. I will talk to girls and let them know that there’s a lot of things to do instead, like MMA. You know there’s better things for them to do with their time, and if anyone focuses on something long and hard enough you can be a world champion MMA fighter. Then teach other kids like them and teach them how to stay out of trouble.

At the end of the day the Diaz brothers are really good training partners for me and both very talented. I know they sell tickets. They are quote end quote controversial, but it sells tickets. Someone has got to be the bad guy. It’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice. Between the two of them I think of those guys as very talented at what they do. And Caesar he loves him to death. Along with Jake and Gil, they are four power houses. Caesar is amazing; he got voted one of the best coaches in the world. He really knows what he’s doing; he is a phenomenal instructor and on top of that he knows the game really well. I took one of Caesar’s classes and there was at least a handful of black belts in every class. To get really good, you have to train with the best. I started off as a white belt, but when you roll with somebody who’s better than you, especially if they have an ego and try to inconvenience you… When I started training for fights coming up, I started training with people who had more experience…and rolling with people who are more experienced in wrestling. When people are first starting out they are very spastic and very unorthodox. When I am training for a fight I don’t really want to be responsible for breaking somebody’s arm.

Where are you originally from?

As it turns out, I am from Utah. I’m from MormonVille, USA but for some reason I’m not Mormon. I lived in Salt Lake City until I was about 10 or 11 years old Then from Salt Lake I moved to Alabama. My father was in the military and he worked for NASA. We moved to Alabama for about five or six years and then we moved to California. I went to high school in Northern California. When I got into high school, that’s when I started martial arts. After high school I started working with Cung Le and trained with him for a little over a decade. He is still a very good friend of mine. After that I went off and trained in Vegas. I went out to Vegas for a couple of years and trained out at Tapout and with Couture. I did my Jiu-Jitsu with Robert Drysdale. In high school I was a part of student council and all I did was volleyball. I was in volleyball year-round and I was in it, I would say, about 14 years. I was like in sixth grade and I played all the way through college, and then in college I was a middle blocker.

Did you ever slam people with a volleyball?

Oh yeah. I used to do that well. I played all around but I also played as an outside hitter. When I got to college is when I played middle blocker. All I wanted to be was an outside hitter and all they wanted me to be was a middle blocker. I am 5’8 and I was going up against girls that were like 6’2 6’4…girls that don’t even have to jump, and I’m over here putting in all of my energy.

What advice would you give to other female fighters starting out?

Don’t be one-dimensional. You can’t be good at just one part of the game. You have to be well-rounded. And don’t close your mind. Be comfortable in your training and stay open.

What are your thoughts on the Strikeforce tournament starting next month?

Strikeforce has always done a very good job at letting women fight. I think they are doing a great job with this tournament. They are having people from Brazil, Japan, Finland, and the US. That is great. They are really getting it out worldwide that way. The winner will fight Sarah or Marloes. That will be great too.

What else would you like to share with our readers about yourself?

I am on Facebook a lot. I cannot add anymore friends right now, so if I don’t add, it’s not personal. I started a Facebook fan page and you can connect there. You can contact me on MySpace and you can contact me on Facebook. People who don’t have any of that, you can contact me at my gym. It’s so funny because a lot of people think the number on my Facebook is my actual phone number. So when you call the number on Facebook, it is not my actual line. I did put my cell phone on Facebook the other day. I told everybody to wish me good luck because the man who has my old number used to be such a jerk to people when they called it. He would write to them and tell them to f$@! Off. So what I did was I listed my old phone number and so then I asked everybody to wish me good luck. I am sure he wants to kill me because he is probably getting a million text messages from God knows who from all over the world…which is awesome by the way. I love the support. One of my sponsors was like,”Elaina what’s up?” He thought I was telling him to f%$k off, but it was the guy with my old cell phone number. I just want to thank everybody for their love and support. I also want to let them know that it was not me sending those texts back to you! I would like to thank Cesar Gracie, Combat Sports Academy, KNOXX, Tussle Fightwear, Super Bodycare, Universal Fight Network, all of my sponsors. With Universal Fight Network I want to thank the owner. He is overseas right now on active duty in Afghanistan. He can’t even do his business right now because he is serving active duty. When he comes back he’s going to fight. I want to thank all the troops out there. Hopefully they will be able to read this on Wfighter. We take a lot of our freedoms for granted. When I hear all about their stories out there I’m like, okay, I’m kind of spoiled. We should support active soldiers. I want to thank my family and friends and want to get a shout out to my boyfriend.

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