Meet Grudge Training Center’s Jen ‘Lil Ice’ Berg Josh Davis May 23, 2011 UFC As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow so does the number of females that want to participate in the sport. Though mixed martial arts has been demonized as human cock fighting, many females still want to not only train mixed martial arts but compete at the professional level. With mixed martial arts gaining mainstream acceptance, more and more fight promotions are starting to promote female fights. Strikeforce has even headlined an event with female fighters. The days of females being told they cannot do something are over and women competing in mixed martial arts at a professional level are helping to prove that point. The MMA Corner recently sat down with Grudge’s rising star Jen “Lil Ice” Berg to discuss the rise of the female side of MMA as well as her current and future plans for her own fight career. The MMA Corner: What got you started in MMA? Berg: I kick boxed in high school and college just as a way to work out. I needed something rough, I did not want to just run or light weights, I needed something more physical. I started MMA after college. I took a fight that I thought was going to be a kick boxing fight and was completely surprised when I showed up for my first day of training and we were on the mats working armbars and other submissions. I actually fell in love with mixed martial arts that first day. I knew that I wanted to compete, I wanted to push myself, I wanted to learn how to fight, I wanted to be able to fight and the type of person that jumps in with both feet. I immediately started to train four hours a day everyday and I figured that if I was going to put this much effort into then I needed to compete and I need to be the best. The MMA Corner: So how does it feel to be a part of a sport on the ground floor and helping it grow? Berg: It is an incredible feeling. I feel honored to be in the position that I am in. I am incredibly honored to be a representative of the sport, to participate in this sport, to be able to be around the other athletes and my teammates. I do feel incredibly lucky every day. I also feel that it is a big responsibility to be in this position and I take it very seriously. The MMA Corner: Where do you see the female side of the sport in the next 10 years? Berg: I think that obviously it has grown significantly over the past few years and I certainly believe that that growth is going to continue. I do not see it slowing down any time soon. I also think that this sport has the potential to explode if the right people get behind it. With organizations such as Strikeforce and Belator adding females to their cards I think that they are helping to launch the female side of MMA and it could get bigger than any of us expected. The MMA Corner: What are your goals as a female mixed martial artist? Berg: As a competitor I want to be the very best. I want to be world champion. I want to be the best though, I do not just want to win fights, I want be the best mentally, physically, and emotionally. My own personal goals are to continue to improve my game, improve my skills and get it down to a perfect system so that when I am done with this sport people can look back and say Jen Berg was a great athlete, a great competitor, not just a world champion. The MMA Corner: What do you think you as a female fighter need to do to help the sport grow? Berg: I think as a female fighter I have a responsibility to train harder than the males do, I need to constantly work on my skills and techniques. I expect perfection from myself in every way; I think that it is important that I put in one million percent in everything I do. I do not think that it is enough to just be a girl that is tough or a girl that can fight, especially coming out of this gym. If the sport is going to grow then I need to cash the check that my mouth is writing so to speak, I need to use my skills, my cardio my strength, the total package to compete the same ways that the males do or people are not going to be excited about seeing female fights. I think that is important for all women to see, not just me. If we want the female side of the sport to succeed then we need to put in the time and do the work just like the males did. The MMA Corner: You are currently on a two fight losing streak, what do you need to do to get back to your winning ways? Berg: I think that I need work on not questioning myself and trusting my skills. I think that in my last fight, I held back a little bit because I had lost the fight before that and I think that it inhibited my performance a little bit. It made it so that I fought her fight, I let her do whatever she wanted and I responded versus going in there and imposing my will. So my commitment to myself for my next fight is to make sure that I have confidence in my team and in my training camp and to go in there and leave it all in the cage. I think that win or lose, if I go out there and leave it all in the cage then I will be happy, but I think that if I leave the cage feeling like I held back then I think that I will feel like I sold myself short. The MMA Corner: How quickly do you want to get back into the cage? Berg: As soon as possible. You know, I haven’t fought since July, so I have taken a little bit longer of an off season then I typically do but I felt likely I really needed to take a step back and refine my basic skills so that I could have the confidence that I need to go into my next fight with. I think that it was good for me to take a step back and developing myself a little bit more but I am really competitive and I like to stay active so I am itching to get back into the cage. I am hopeful that I will get one more fight before the end of the year. I am in shape and I have been training like I have a fight coming up so I am really eager to get back in there. However, I also need the right fight. I cannot take a fight just to take a fight. I need to fight someone that is close to my size so I am willing to wait for the right fight. The MMA Corner: What do you consider to be your biggest strength as a fighter? Berg: I definitely think that my kickboxing is my biggest strength and I think that unfortunately in my last two fights I did not showcase that. I have worked very hard over the past year, developing myself as a well rounded fighter, working on my wrestling, my submissions and that kind of stuff but my kickboxing is my biggest strength; it is what I have done the longest. The MMA Corner: What has been your biggest obstacle as a female fighter? Berg: I would have to say that I have been blessed in my journey and incredibly lucky to stumble across some great people who believed in me and have given me really great opportunities so I cannot say that I have faced a ton of adversity or that I have had major obstacles. I think at my size, my biggest obstacle is finding another fighter my size and finding the right fight for me that is not against someone that is a lot bigger than me. The MMA Corner: What is next for Jen Berg? Berg: The sky is the limit! I have big plans, I plan to be world champion and I am going to continue down that journey. I understand that it is a journey, so I do not feel the need to rush it and I know that I have to earn it. I would never expect to walk in to a fight and win when I did not do the work. On a day to day basis I just want to represent my time well and I want the team to be proud to have me as a part of their team. As for the bigger picture, I want to take over the world. Jen wanted to make sure that she thanked Trevor and Christina Wittman for their friendship and support. “Trevor is an amazing coach and I thank him for the opportunity for working with me and taking a chance on me. My husband because he has to put up with me everyday and I love him dearly. I really could not do what I do without him. In order for me to train full time he has to take care of everything at home and there is lot of thankless work that goes on behind the scenes. I would like to thank all of the coaches here at Grudge, Fareed Samad my boxing coach, Bryan Youngs my Mual Thai coach, Mark Huerta my wrestling coach, Paulino Ibarra also boxing coach. I want to give a special thanks to these guys for all of the time that they spend with me. Without them I would not be here. I would also like to thank Ricky Vasquez, my manager, for everything that he does for me. I would like to thank Greg Jackson for all of his coaching and I really want to thank my teammates for working with me, teaching me and supporting me.” Even though Jen Berg is coming off of back to back losses, she is still one of the most exciting fighters that the sport has to offer. She consistently trains hard and continues to put herself in a position for success and as the female side of mixed martial arts continues to grow, so will the name of Jen “Lil Ice” Berg.