She’s no TV cook, that’s for damn sure.
Meet Rachel Wray (NOT Rachel Ray): she loves MMA, football, and cheerleaders. She’s just like you, except she can rearrange your face in an octagon.
The U of Arkansas alum and former Kansas City cheerleader is trying her hand at mixed martial arts. She TKO’d one girl and another didn’t bother showing up. One thing’s for sure: Ms. Wray is not to be messed with.
She’s an amateur for now, but hopes one day to be a pro. In an interview with GuysNation’s Bryan Lienesch, Rachel Wray talked about how her new career’s going, what it’s like to have a “famous” name, and what’s going on in the world of football she left behind. Here’s what she had to say…
How did you get into Mixed Martial Arts?
When I was a Chiefs cheerleader, we all worked out at Title Boxing Club to stay in shape. I fell in love with boxing and started working privately with a trainer. After a few months of boxing, it spiraled into MMA and I started working out at LC Davis and Jason High’s gym. When cheer auditions were approaching I had to make a decision to continue cheering or to retire and pursue my new dream of becoming a cage fighter. I chose fighting.
Give the GuysNation readers your fighter profile (wins-losses, other stats, etc).
I’m 1-0. I’ve had two fights but the opponent of my last fight came to weigh ins and no-showed. My first fight I won via a 2nd round TKO. My next fight is January 25th.
Was your first fight in life inside an octagon or out of one?
[Laughs] My first fight was in the cage. I’ve never been in a street fight, and don’t plan on it unless someone messes with my little sister.
Do you remember the first time a blow really rocked you?
My best female training partner, Molly Magness, a boxer, has a mad left hook. All the guys at our gym fear her left hook. The first time I felt the full effects of her left hook she sent me stumbling backwards with my head completely tilted back, it felt like whiplash and I got really dizzy for a few seconds!
Boxing, wrestling, and grappling. Which one is your strength and which can you improve on the most?
Boxing is definitely my biggest strength because I’ve been doing it the longest. My grappling is getting pretty solid, but wrestling is where I need the most improvement.
You and I graduated with the same degree, Political Science. Did studying something like fundamental tribalism better prepare you for rearranging people’s faces?
[Laughs] I can’t say that my Political Science degree is going to serve much purpose for me in the cage. I chose that major because, at the time, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to take, so I majored in my area of passion and interest.
Is becoming a professional MMA fighter your 100% career goal right now?
I’m taking this one fight at a time. All I know is that I absolutely love fighting and I can’t imagine my life without it. Right now my plan is to get more amateur experience, and if I keep winning, I would like to go pro.
Given that you’re an MMA fighter yourself, I’m sure you watch plenty of it. Who’s your favorite fighter besides Rachel Wray?
Ronda Rousey. She’s got the total package. She’s gorgeous, she’s undefeated, she’s an Olympian, a black belt, and, along with being an incredibly talented fighter, she is intelligent, funny, and has a very entertaining personality. I can’t wait to watch her fight again.
Who’s the best MMA fighter right now, today?
Let’s say the much-anticipated Georges St.-Pierre/Anderson Silva fight is set. Who wins?
What has been the hardest part about being an aspiring female athlete in a male-dominated sport?
Being a female in a male-dominated sport comes with many challenges. I’d say the hardest part is finding good training partners. Some guys are scared to hurt you and they go too easy, and others are scared to get hit or [submissioned] by a girl so they go way too hard. It’s hard to find that good balance when you’re dealing with guys. Size is also an issue. You need partners that can be competitive with you, but who won’t stack you or hurt you all the time.
Who right now is the best role model for young female athletes out there?
Ronda Rousey is the best role model out there for young female athletes. She’s been a successful athlete and competitor her entire life. She has a strong work ethic, she doesn’t back down to anybody, and she speaks her mind. I love that about her. She doesn’t act fake or “pageanty” when she does interviews, she just says it like it is. Also, she could totally use her amazing body and good looks as sex appeal to get extra attention, but she doesn’t. She remains classy and lets everyone respect her for her fighting skills. She’s a hero. I admire her so much.
Let’s talk about that great name of yours. How often do you get double looks from people when giving it to them
All the time, it’s really annoying. At least my name isn’t Hillary Clinton or something like that.
Are you a decent cook yourself?
I enjoy baking, it relaxes me.
Who’s better at what they do: Rachel Wray at fighting, or Rachel Ray at cooking?
To be honest, I get really annoyed when people make Rachael Ray jokes or ask me cooking questions. But there’s no way to get past it. Obviously Rachael Ray is better at cooking, she’s famous and has her own TV show. I’ve had ONE amateur fight. Let’s be real. Give me some time, though, and I will get better. Maybe someday when Rachael Ray gets her ID checked someone will say, “Oh you have the same name as the MMA fighter!”
Let’s talk about other sports for a minute. You used to be a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader. Are you still a big football fan?
I love football. I come from a town and state where football is all that matters. Unlike most people, I actually enjoy the NFL more than college football. I’ve been following the NFL since I was in 7th grade, which is why I chose to cheer for an NFL team as opposed to being an NBA dancer. I love the Patriots, the Chiefs, and the Cowboys. And of course I’m a loyal Arkansas Razorback fan.
What do you think about your Chiefs heading into next season?
With all the new changes, I hope to see the Chiefs make good draft picks and improve next season.
Is Andy Reid the right guy for the job?
I guess we will find out.
You’re also an Arkansas alum. What did you make of the whole Bobby Petrino incident?
It’s unfortunate that it happened, I really liked Bobby. He is a great coach and he won games. I hope to see my Razorbacks get back on their feet and adapt to the changes.
Do you think the Razorbacks can turn the program around?
Of course, we’ve had a great program for a long time and we aren’t going anywhere. Every team has their ups and downs. The hogs just had a rough season but they will continue to get good recruits and they’ll come back.
Last but not least, the floor is yours. What else do you want people to know?
I want people to know how much I love what I do. Never in my entire life would I have imagined myself doing this. I didn’t go looking for fighting, fighting found me, and I fell in love with it. I don’t do this for the attention, fame, money, glory, glamour, or free gear. Fighting is a lifestyle. People don’t see all the hard work that goes behind the 15 minutes of entertainment they buy a ticket to see in the cage. They don’t understand the heart and soul that fighters pour into their training. It consumes your entire life and becomes part of who you are. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Make sure to follow Bryan Lienesch on Twitter @bclienesch for MMA updates, sports news, and other shenanigans!