Having training camps cut short against high-profile opponents seems to always be on the menu for Invicta FC’s Fiona Muxlow. Two of the three blemishes on her record come from short-notice fights, one against Marloes Coenan and the other a two week out opponent change that saw her fighting Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino in an Invicta FC featherweight title eliminator.

The loss prompted a change to Muxlow’s menu, in a literal sense.

“It was getting smashed by Cyborg that made me decide to change weight classes [laughs]. Actually, it was a number of things. Training full time at Tiger [Muay Thai] is totally different to anything I have done in Australia, and I was able to strip a lot of weight without actually trying,” Muxlow revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I was training for performance and the weight loss was a side effect. Ten days out from Invicta 5, when I had my medical done, I was already sitting at 68 kilograms [148 pounds].

“I’d started my camp at Tiger Muay Thai at 73 kilograms [160 pounds] and my coach suggested that maybe I should drop a weight class. I’d been giving him weight updates in kilograms as opposed to pounds, not realizing that being American the numbers meant nothing to him. From that point, I had to shovel the food in just to try and maintain weight. In Kansas City before the fight, several people asked me if I usually fought featherweight because I looked kinda small.”

After realizing that a shift in weight classes was the best option for her career, Muxlow wanted to test the waters. Without a fight in the near future, she decided she would go through a trial run of a weight cut to see if she could make the bantamweight limit.

“It wasn’t too bad at all. Brian Ebersole gave me some great advice to tweak what I’d planned to do anyway, and I made weight with just plastics [on],” Muxlow explained. “Considering I was 68 kilograms [149 pounds] when I started the cut process, I figured that if I can maintain a walk-around weight around 65 kilograms [143 pounds], fighting at 125 pounds is also a doable option for me.

“Researching bios and seeing them in person, I realized all the other featherweights on the card were at least three inches taller than me. Weigh-in day, I ate breakfast and lunch and was fully hydrated and still only managed to make 143.8 pounds. This was a pretty good indicator that 145 pounds was no longer the weight class for me, especially considering I was actually lighter than several of the 135-pound fighters three days out.”

With her newfound ability to cut more weight comfortably, hindsight may have seen Muxlow make the change a little bit sooner in her career. However, she lives with no regrets and knows all too well that the decisions she made earned her admission into the top women’s mixed martial arts organization in the world.

“Doing it sooner would mean I wouldn’t have got a chance to fight Cyborg or Marloes,” Muxlow admitted. “After the Cyborg fight, I knew from the amount of weight I’d cut for other events that I could have made 135 pounds in April if I’d cut. But the fight was contracted at 145 pounds. I had kind of always rejected the idea; I was comfortable at feather[weight].

“For a long time, the idea of being lighter than 65 kilograms messed with my head a lot. I had a really bad experience regarding weight cutting for the BJJ Worlds in 2002 and it messed me up physically and mentally. But now with the way I’m training, 145 pounds is just too heavy for me.”

In her Invicta FC debut, Muxlow was defeated in the first round. Many critics had predicted this to be the case long before the opening bell had even rung, but Muxlow still went into the fight with high hopes.

“At first, I was disappointed. I felt I had let me team and my coaches down. They had faith in me, and we trained so hard for that fight and I was ready to ‘shock the world.’ That all went away with that first punch that almost knocked me out,” Muxlow admitted. “Everyone was so proud of my efforts and that I never back down. I can say I have fought the best in the world and I didn’t tap—that’s something too. Many guys have said they wouldn’t step in the cage with her, so I can feel kind of proud that I did and I will be a stronger fighter because of it. I’m still a work in progress, and I’m not finished yet.”

It may seem obvious, but for a fighter to continually develop and be the best fighter that they can be, it’s vital that they surround themselves with the best team and coaches possible. Muxlow has just that with her training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, where greats of the sport like Georges St-Pierre have been known to spend some of their training camps.

“Roger Huerta and Brian Ebersole are not only great fighters, but awesome coaches as well. It’s going great [at Tiger Muay Thai]. I have access to regular-skilled and appropriate-sized training partners on the MMA fight team with the likes of Ben Nguyen, Cody Stevens and Kai Kara-France, to name just a few,” she said. “Fernando Maccachero, a Brazilian Top Team fourth-degree black belt, takes the BJJ sessions, and I get to train regularly with purple, brown and black belts, plus the world-class Thai trainers I have access to. It really is amazing. I feel so happy I decided to go there and cannot wait to head back.”

Something that a lot of fighters deal with in the course of their profession is applying for a variety of different visas. It’s something that the majority of fans take for granted, but anybody who has worked in another country knows that the intricacies of this process are not as cut and dry as getting on a plane with the intentions to fight in front of thousands of fans.

“In around mid-July, because of visa type, I had to leave Thailand by the next weekend, and then I can head back for another 90 days. So instead of doing a visa run to Burma or Singapore, I came back to Australia,” Muxlow said. “I still have CrossFit North Queensland, so I’m back to give the coaches that have been holding down the fort some time off. Also, I was able to time it so I can get in a few BJJ comps, including the Northern Territory State titles and Australian Champions Cup before I head back to Phuket. I was also asked to do a women’s MMA workshop in Brisbane at FightCross on the third of August, so [it’s] going to be a busy trip.”

With the help of social media, Muxlow has been pushing heavily to get herself on the seventh card from Invicta FC, slated for later in the year.

“Because of the switch in weight class, I’m still researching the girls both in bantamweight and flyweight,” Muxlow admitted. “Really, I’ll be happy to fight whoever Invicta decide will be a good match-up for me and an entertaining fight for the fans.”

With such a big change now in store for Muxlow, it will remain to be seen just what new “dishes” from her menu she has ready for Invicta FC and her next opponent when she does get the chance to showcase her skills again for the premier women’s mixed martial arts organization.

Fiona would like to thank the entire staff and crew at Tiger Muay Thai & MMA, especially Roger Huerta for his support and faith in her. Chris Shen & Team Takedown, the coaches and crew at CrossFit North Queensland for letting her head overseas for months at a time. Onnit & Tussle Fight Gear, who sponsored her for her Invicta FC 5 fight, as well as Rocktape Australia and Dog Factory MMA. She would also like to extend a big thanks to Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin from Invicta FC for everything they have done for women’s MMA. Follow Muxlow on Twitter: @FionaMMA

Photo: Fiona Muxlow (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.