UFC bantamweight Elizabeth Phillips may not be a grisled old veteran of MMA but she believes that she's got an old-school attitude that not many of her contemporaries posess. Being a great fighter is about more than simply being a great athlete, she knows.
“There are athletes out there that come into MMA but I truly don’t believe that everybody is a fighter,” she told UFC.com recently.
“[Being a fighter] comes with instinct and heart and your attitude. Even when you’re losing and you’re tired and you’re hurt, it’s how you handle it. You can’t teach that, and I don’t think everybody has it. Some people have it and some people don’t.”
Phillips certainly knows all about gutting through fatigue and hurt. In fact, she made her UFC debut last June only two weeks after her previous fight. Phillips lost a controversial decision to Valerie Letourneau that night at UFC 174, but returns this Saturday in Macau at UFC Fight Night against Milana Dudieva.
After five amateur contests and six pro fights, Phillips is positive that she belongs in the UFC, at this point. She's also grateful that she found MMA at a point in her life when she needed direction and discipline.
Growing up in the Colville Reservation of Omak, Washington, Phillips ran in some tough circles and was on her way to getting into trouble as a youth before finding MMA. “If you went to a party on the rez or something like that, you knew that you were going to get into a fight,” she remembered.
“Someone was going to talk [expletive] and someone was going to get their head knocked off their shoulders. It was crazy. I was getting in fights all the time when I was younger. I used to be this small, quiet person, and then all of a sudden everything changed and I was rowdy because that was just how it was. If you had a problem with somebody, you threw fists at each other and you handled it that way. That was definitely the lifestyle of Omak and where I grew up."
At 24, Phillips began training at Spokane's Sik Jitsu gym. She took her lumps there before learning enough to become a fighter herself.
Her training and new professional career helped Phillips turn her life around. “I was getting in trouble at one point and things weren’t working out and there’s a lot of regrets I have because of certain choices that I made," she said.
"So it did get to the point where I was like ‘I need to stay busy with myself and start doing something positive that I like to do,’ and I’m just thankful that I had people that pointed me in that direction of mixed martial arts.”
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