Arlene Blencowe is an Australian mixed martial artist who competes in the Featherweight division for Bellator MMA. She is the former WBF Female Welterweight Champion in boxing and is scheduled to compete against Cris Cyborg for the Bellator Featherweight Championship on October 15.
Arlene Blencowe: So, overall um, how have you have you been doing throughout the pandemic? It’S crazy times over here, i’m in uh, i’m in canada, but north america is ridiculous. So, what’s it like, over there um yeah much the same, like obviously when it first kicked off here it was a very crazy world. Everyone was sort of you know. Always you know a bit unsure as to what was happening. Obviously, businesses were closing down. People were dying like we were in quarantine, yeah. It is definitely a very crazy world and a very crazy time to be living in. We do have one of our states victoria down south, that’s in like full lockdown at the moment, just because their case is spiked and um. You know: there’s yeah, it’s running pretty rampant down there so and we’ve got border closures between queensland and new south wales, where um yeah you can’t you can’t go into state um yeah. No, it’s where we are um for the most part, like your daily life um. You know it’s pretty normal, but yeah. Obviously, kova is still very much on top of everyone’s mind. How has it impacted your training? Obviously i mean you, you haven’t fought in a little while but uh. How has training been throughout the entire thing? Well, um i’m lucky at the moment so for a while their gyms had closed down, um and yeah. So we i’m lucky because i’ve got a like a full gym set up in my garage. So yeah we were doing a lot of training and um. You know, i’d, have you know, team mates and coaches come around to my house and – and i just have more specific sessions which yeah kind of yeah it suited me. It was awesome i was lucky. I was able to do that, so we trained the whole way through covert um and now gyms are open back up, so yeah they’ve been open for a while now so yeah training is as per normal. I’M i’m glad we ended up pushing this uh interview. A little bit because we started talking a little bit before the announcement. That was so. How does that? How does it feel to uh to know you’re fighting for the featherweight title against someone like chris cyborg? Oh well, um as i’ve said in other interviews, yeah. This fight alone, um sort of wraps up four career goals like winning this um bellator world title and obviously beating chris cyborg and yeah. It encapsulates a lot of you know, makes me a a dual champion in combat sports with being a boxing world champion and a um mma, whatever you say, yeah there’s a lot of um. A lot of drive for me to you know obviously achieve and success succeed in um in this fight, so yeah being the underdog even makes it even um yeah more rewarding. How did you get the news like? Who was it that called you and and uh? How excited were you when you found out um? Well, we kind of knew about it, because obviously, chris and julia fought earlier in the year, and you know scott coca made um. You know some drop some hints as to who would be next in line which you know, we’ve been working hard since you know dropping that um split decision lost to julia back in 2017, so yeah we did what we had to do, which was you know, beat Whoever was put in front of me and you know, for the most part, there was um, you know some quick finishes and some impressed, you know impressive, wins and that so yeah we just stayed on our path, and i mean if it yo chris hadn’t been signed. I would have got a shot at the title earlier, but it just works in my favor. The fact that she came over from the ufc and and now i get that fight rather than you know, everyone was always saying: when are you going to fight chris sabor wedding in a fight amanda nunes? It’S like well they’re in a different promotion. You know i’m staying on my path. This is um, you know, bellator is where i belong and um. You know that’s where i’m assigned to so yeah. It all worked in my favor in the sense that i’ve been chasing that fight with chris for a long long time now and um yeah we’ve been preparing for it, obviously, both physically and mentally. Since the beginning of the year, when we you know, we found out i’ve, heard interviews from guys like alexander gustafson, when they fought um, jon jones and he’s like. I don’t even care about the title. I want to beat jon jones to be able to say i beat the greatest of all time in a very similar position, where chris cyborg to many is the greatest female um combat sport. Athlete of all time does it feel to you like that’s bigger than the title, or are you just you know the world title still means more to you than a win over um? No, it’s all yeah, it’s almost the same, like i said it um. You know career goals that i’ve written up a long time ago, so yeah the fight itself and the fact that it’s all come about in this way. So, like i said you know i i would have been fighting for the bellator world title against julia um. If chris had not been signed, but i feel like, even though i’ve got unfinished business with julia um, you know that that fight’s still very much a fight that i want as well, but um yeah. I just feel like it’s all just fallen into place and and yeah this is meant to be so um yeah, the fight itself, um, you know being for the world title being against chris cyborg being that it’s gon na yeah tick off some of my career goals And and set you know my legacy in place, um yeah it all. It just all means everything i want to. I want to you know a lot of people like to talk about their wins, but i want to. I want to focus on those two losses to julia. They were both very very close. What is the biggest lessons? You’Ve learned from those fights that you’re that’s going to help you um come october, um yeah, so the first fight with julia um, like it was a loss. In saying that, though, i was carrying a pretty severe injury coming into that fight. So for me um, you know there was a lot of times during fight camp. Where i was you know i considered sort of pulling out, but it’s not anything that i’ve done in fights before i’ve kept. You know, carry injuries and i’ve. I’Ve had a lot of opponents pull out on me in the past, and i know it’s a horrible feeling to get that news and i just have always thought that. That’S not the fire that i’m going to be like i fight you know, rain, hail or shine. Pretty much um because yeah my take on is, you know the gladiators used to fight back in the day and they were never feeling when we’ve gone half and were starving most of time, but um yeah like they were never feeling in top shape. Let alone have a chance to train for 10 weeks before a fight came after fighting to the death, so yeah that’s a mindset. I’Ve always had so yeah. I carried a severe injury coming into that fight. So for me there was a lot of mental hurdles that i overcome myself personally um, so to get in there and compete and and not look like a total mess in there. Like i mean you wouldn’t even know, i was carrying an injury, so um, apart from, i, was carrying a little bit of extra weight that was um. I made weight, but i looked terrible. I was out of condition um just because obviously flight camp wasn’t, as was what it was normally like, but the second fight for the world title i um yeah like looking back. Obviously it was a split decision and very very close and um. You know my corner and my coaches, who who were with me then at that fight. You know had sort of assured me that i’d done enough – and i thought i’d done enough, but in saying that the lesson that i took is that even when you think you’ve done enough, you should do more like. I walked out of a five-round fight and could have gone. You know another five rounds or maybe not another five hours but like yeah for me, um, and especially with chris. I know that this fight, and and that you know, fighting julie is also a tough fight, but i mean chris, is you know a beast of an uh, a fighter and yeah i’ll be walking actually yeah if it need be i’ll, be getting carried out of the Cage, i will leave it all in there and i think that was the biggest thing that i had to overcome after losing was that i hadn’t prepared. Well, you don’t prepare yourself to lose, but yeah i wasn’t losing that fight, but the fact that when i um did lose it, i was disappointed that i just didn’t give it everything i should have given it more just to you know cement in the judge’s eyes That i won you’ve uh it’s been a year since you last fought. I know that lots happened with the pandemic and whatnot. How do you think ring rust is gon na is gon na play a factor both with with you and chris i mean it’s. Neither one of you guys have really been um overly active, so it will affect both of you. But how do you think it’s going to impact your performance? Well, i think um with everything that’s going on. Anyway, it’s going to be a whole new environment as in we’re fighting without a crowd, so it doesn’t yeah it’s it’s different. You know coverts changing uh or has changed how our fight week’s going to go. Um. You know it’s all. You know the quarantine, the fight sphere, like it’s, it’s going to be different anyway, so i don’t think um. You know it wouldn’t have mattered if we thought you know four months ago, and it was you know like normal it’s. This is still going to be different. Anyway, so it’s something that you know we i’ve mentally prepared for and at the end of the day, i’m like fight camp. For me, i’ve changed things up a lot. I’M throwing myself in the deep end, um like i’m actually down in wollongong at the moment: training um with alex alex volkanovski and his um team and man. They feel like i’m having a fight every night when i’m jumping in, like you know, sessions with them. So yeah, like you know, i was over in um in america in march, and i i started a bit of a training camp over there with holly and the plan was to come over, go back over and train at jackson’s and do it like a full camp. There and obviously it would have worked out perfect because she’s in fight camp for her fight in october, but um corn, star quarantine, covered and um everything just kind of left things up in the air as to be able to plan like a proper camp and have Dates set because we just really didn’t know what was happening so but yeah no for the most part, like i think yeah i mean you can’t obviously competition’s um ideal, but for the most part i’ve been training hard enough and trying myself mentally into the hard sessions That you know there shouldn’t be too much ringless. I want to talk a little bit about your legacy and um. You know when you think about australia and mma mark hunt right there, there’s all these um. You know big big names in australia. What’S the one message that you’d have for up-and-comers, both male and female, that look up to you, um just stay on the path like i’m the first one, i’ve had a roller coaster of a career, and you know by no means am i you know i at One stage i had more losses than i did wins and um, but yeah you just stay true to yourself and the goal like this is like, especially if you love it and you have a passion for it which you have to you know be in combat sports. It’S a hard hard thing, but with anything in life, um not nothing’s, going to be smooth sailing. So you just stick with it and um yeah take each training session each day, um day by day session by session, like you, try not to [ __ ]. I’Ve made the um the mistake in the past to focus on the end goal, so, for example, this fight would be you know, focusing on you know the end fight which is fighting chris cyborg becoming the world champion, but in the well i’ve been trying this for A long time but saying the 10 weeks leading up to it, you know breaking each day down each session down and enjoying because every you know every session or every day has a beautiful lesson or message in it that you can stop and appreciate, and you know, Take that, whereas, if you just wish that 10 weeks away and focus only on the fight itself, you’ll miss all of these little things along the 10 weeks. And you know for someone like me too, who is a little bit older and you know towards somewhat towards the end of her career. I’M not saying i’m at the end of my career, but you know one day i’m going to look back or i do sort of you know, focus on life after finding two, but one day, i’ll, look back on these moments and you know miss being in fight. Can’T miss being around my teammates um miss the sore body. Probably won’t miss that part, but yeah, i miss being an elite athlete. That’S physically fit that’s at the top of the game, and you know they’re all the little things that you need to stop and appreciate, because this doesn’t last forever and you can’t just rely on only enjoying being under the bright lights, because you know there’s so much More to it so australian mma right now, i think, is at its peak. It’S it’s it’s bigger than it’s ever been you guys, like robert whittaker izzy. The list goes on and on there’s so many names alexander volkanovsky, another one um. Why do you think right now? Australian mma is booming. Do you think it was people like you, people like mark, hunt daniel kelly that really started this rise in australian mma or why do you think now is the time that you’re starting to see so much success from australian rma fighters um? I think it’s just the way that the sports evolved to, and i was listening so my coach james dehuda. He was another one that you know paved the way for um like fighters. He was in the early days of ufc and um. I was listening to an interview of his last night and he was even um saying that you know like he was at the beginning of ufc sort of thing and he you know, would watch like a film clip or you know, see a newspaper article or read Something in a magazine and he cut it out or he just you know, watch it and replay it over and over. Whereas now there is so much content on um, you know techniques and skills and drilling and the um access that we have to each other. So, like you know, i could fly over. I’Ve been to jackson weeks, a few wings a few times and trained there, i’ve trained over at tiger muay thai um yeah. We all can sort of um interchange, um. You know knowledge and yeah, and i just feel like yeah we realize now that you know we’ve got some really good coaches here in australia too, and yeah and yeah by no means is there any reason why an australian is any less athletic than anyone else in The world we’ve just yeah, put our heads down and um. You know: there’s amazing fighters all over the world um and that’s just yeah. That was always how it was going to happen once sort of you know um it they stepped off the american shores and and found all these fighters from around the world. One of the things one of the things i’ve always noticed about australian fighters is they may go, do a training camp in the united states or, like you mentioned in thailand or wherever it may be, but they always end up back home when you think about guys, Like michael bisping, they go and they move to the u.s lots of brazilian fighters move to the us. Why do you think that is? Is it just you’re, proud of being australian? You want the success to come from the camps in australia. Why do you think that is um not giving any um disrespect to any other country, but we live in a beautiful country, we’re very, very lucky to be um, australians, our government system, our medical system, everything um, and it’s just a beautiful country. We’Ve got like where we’ve got coastline all around us um but yeah. I i guess for me. Like i mean it was never a question to even think about moving overseas um i’ve got a family. I’Ve got two children um, you know they’re in school and everything like that and for the most part, like i mean yeah, rob whitaker’s got a family here. Alex alex volkowski’s got a family here like it’s, not um. We do have some. You know international fighters. I know, like you know: megan anderson moved over to america. Jesse jess is over there um, but yeah like it’s. I guess because yeah we’ve just got the chance to go over and travel and do fight camps and then come home and you know be with our families and live our lives here and um. But in saying that we’ve got some awesome gyms here in australia too. That um, you know, allow us to be able to train and do what we need to do here. I’Ll ask you a couple more and then i’ll i’ll. Let you get going to training so the 145 pound division is probably the shallowest overall in in women’s mma. Why do you think that is and how do you think um? What’S the best way for both bellator ufc? How do they grow these divisions um? Well, i guess that was just so. I mean yeah once upon a time. The bantamweight division you know was the be all and end all and obviously because the ronda um era um, i don’t like yeah, i guess the ufc, it’s a shallow division, but i’m in bellator i’ve got a you know a fair few um. You know. 145 girls signed, so it’s just a matter of you know i think well. Female mma has obviously been on the grow like up and up since you know when, when i first started so um, you know you’ll, probably see in another five or ten years, there’ll be more girls coming up um, you know through it’s a more common thing to See you know females in the gym, training and obviously the more these younger generations see. You know, females on the world stage and you know fighting on the main event: um fighting main card fighting for world titles and um yeah. It’S there’s going to be more interest in it. So yeah, i think it’ll, just something it’ll be something that just grows um. Hopefully all right i’ll, ask you one last question: non-mma related, so obviously you’ve uh you’ve fought for a long time. What sorts of things do you do outside of mma to kind of keep your mind occupied, especially during the hard times of the past like year or so yeah um, i’m lucky. I’Ve got a good divide in um. You know um it’s funny because i’m actually waiting for, because you know there’s a lot of a lot of haters on the mma scene that follow it. So you know, even when the the chris cyborg fight got announced, it was like. Oh, you know chris cyborg by murder and you know, obviously i’m not getting a lot of credit for what i’ve done and this and that and it’s all part of the sport i don’t care. I don’t take anyone on board, but i do promote the fact like. I’M a soccer mum, my son’s, a very, very good soccer player, that’s going to go places in his career and you know what i’m a soccer mum but um yeah. Now i’m a mother of two kids. They take up my and a lot of my attention and focus because yeah, like i said in another interview at the end of the day, um it doesn’t matter what i do in my flight career um. Nothing will ever over like to come. You know um past the fact that i’m a mum like that’s my number one priority, i’m a partner too here’s my other priority, so yeah family life very much takes um. You know our household at the moment obviously is very much focused on the fact that i’ve got a fight, but we do a very good job of you know. Both my partner and my son are both soccer players, so they spend a lot of time. Um training every week as well, so when we get home the last thing we want to talk about is soccer or or fighting. Obviously it comes up in conversations not like you know, close the door and be like that’s it. You don’t talk about it. Just like you know you talk about work or whatever, but um. You know, i’ve got a job, he’s got jobs. I’Ve got other little side, things that i do in life. I coach. I mentor um yeah, you know i do little. Do it? Do diy projects at home um, you know, i read meditate just yeah, i’m still very much a girl and it’s one of the comments that um i sort of made someone the other day that you know you meet up with someone, and the first question is always Like you know, how’s training going or when’s your next flight or um. You know it’s always very fight-based, i’m like yeah, i’m a person too. So you know it’s either that’ll house, the kids and i was like okay, what about just normal me? But you know yeah. I’Ve already got much got a personal life outside of fighting and um. I can separate myself from the two of them, which is good all right. Well, thank you very, very much for the time i know you’re extremely busy. Now i think we’re we’re a month out today, oh today, here i don’t know what day it is there um we’re about a month out, so i know you’re extremely busy. So i really appreciate you taking the time all the best with training stay safe and i’m rooting for you awesome. Thank you bye, all right, all the best