Experience can be quantified. A fighter has had X amount of fights. Or they’ve been training for Y years. But no matter what values are attributed to those parameters, there is no measure of quality until it is put to use.

Take 32-year-old atomweight Cassie Rodish. The Iowa-based fighter began her career 0-3, but has since reeled off four straight wins. Now firmly planted in the division’s top 10, Rodish knows the difference between going through the motions and taking her fight career seriously.

“I think a lot has to do with time and preparation, being dedicated to the sport,” revealed the fighter in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “For me, I think it’s just mental. I took those losses kind of hard. I came back stronger.

“I changed my outlook on fighting. It’s a serious sport, and you have to be mean and gritty. I grew into that fighter mentality.”

Rodish (R) delivers a kick (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

But Rodish’s early struggles can be attributed to more than just her devotion to her craft.

“As a younger fighter, I may have taken fights too early,” she admitted. “Also, I came down a lot in weight. My first fight was at 135 pounds. I was against someone who is like 5-foot-9; I’m 5-foot-1! Now at 105 [pounds], people are my height and my size.”

With the playing field finally even, Rodish has surged up the rankings. Her Invicta debut lasted just 36 seconds as she forced Meghan Wright to submit to a guillotine choke. After a win outside the promotion, she returned in January to score a third-round TKO over Stephanie Frausto.

That put Rodish in line for a fight with Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc at Invicta FC 5 on April 5, but unfortunately Rivera-Calanoc suffered an injury and was forced out of the contest. Now, Rodish will take on Invicta newcomer Simona Soukupova.

“It was disappointing in that I was excited to fight a wrestler,” said Rodish on the change of opponent. “A lot of my opponents have been strikers, and I was excited to test my skills. I haven’t really had a chance to prove some of the things that I’m really, really good at. I’m always trying to improve and showcase myself more.

“But I’m grateful to be fighting for Invicta. Whoever they have, whenever they call, I’m going to answer.”

Rodish (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

The Czech-born Soukupova is not the type of fighter that is going to lie down for Rodish. She’s already faced top-level competition in Felice Herrig, Karla Benitez and fellow Invicta debutant Katja Kankaanpaa.

“I know that she’s hard-nosed, always pushing forward and likes to strike,” explained Rodish. “I’m not sure about the rest of her game, but I’m just worried about implementing my game plan. She’s going to have to worry about what I’m doing.”

While Rodish has never succumbed to strikes in her career, her hard-hitting challenger has never been finished in any capacity.

“She’s tough. She’s not going to wilt to a few punches,” acknowledged Rodish. “I need to go out there and push the pace. I have to be mean. It’s going to be a pretty fierce fight.”

A win over Soukupova is sure to aid in Rodish’s climb up the 105-pound ladder, but getting there means that she is forced to make sacrifices. Her recent success has forced her to juggle two full-time jobs: fighting and parenting.

“It’s really, really tough,” declared the mother of two. “I have to miss things. For this fight, I’m missing my daughter’s first softball game. That sucks.

“[But] in my down time, I dedicate it to them. I try to smash life into the hours that I get with them.”

The balance of priorities has led to Rodish’s daughters being exposed to situations at a young age that are bound to help them in the future.

“You always hope that you’re giving them the right influences, and I feel like I’ve done that,” said Rodish. “Everybody at the gym have taken in my kids; they watch their language, they’re respectful. They are teaching them about competition, putting the work in, being dedicated, taking care of yourself, eating correctly, having pride in what you’re doing.

“I feel like my girls are ahead of the game as far as that goes. I’m teaching them life lessons. Not everybody gets to see that.”

So does that mean the fight fans should expect to see another generation of the Rodish family inside the cage?

Rodish (top) batters her opponent (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

“I’d be just fine if they took up basketball,” Rodish said with a laugh. “I would hate it; I would never want to see them get hit. [But] if it’s something that they choose to do and dedicate themselves to it, I would respect that.”

Rodish’s daughters may not choose to become fighters, but without question, they can learn from the evolution that Rodish herself has undergone over the past three years. Win or lose, you won’t find the Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu product in a boring fight.

“People love to see the fights where people aren’t scared to take risks, they’re out there to fight,” Rodish proclaimed. “I don’t pitter-patter fight. I would rather go out there and lose and put on a show than just feel the person out and take a split decision. I’m there to fight.”

On April 5, look for Rodish to steal the show with an exciting performance against Soukupova.

“Whether it’s a first-round finish or decision, as long as we’re out there throwing bombs and taking it to each other, I think we’ll do just fine.”

Cassie would like to thank her coaches and training partners at Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu. Her sponsors: Polanti Watches, VII AD, KLENCH Mouthguards, Dr. Taverni, Combatives Gear, Fight Soap, Throat Punch and Cardio Force. Also her manager Brett Atchley of Addison Sports Management and Media. Follow her on Twitter: @cassierodish

Top Photo: Cassie Rodish (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  • “People love to see the fights where people aren’t scared to take risks, they’re out there to fight,” Rodish proclaimed. “I don’t pitter-patter fight. I would rather go out there and lose and put on a show than just feel the person out and take a split decision. I’m there to fight.”

    Quote of the year nominee. Wish it was shorter so I could tweet it.