When under restraint at the starting gate, a racehorse might become anxious or frustrated waiting for the race to start and can even be agitated at overlong delays. That horse is said to be “champing at the bit”—or “chomping,” depending on where you’re from. I like “champing” for our purposes as we talk about newly signed Invicta FC fighter Delaney Owen.

Owen, with one professional fight and one professional win, was signed to Invicta’s roster along with a slew of strawweights this spring and was expecting to make her next fight under the promotion’s banner in April or May. She was even holding out for Invicta up until mid-May, when Beatdown 11 rang. She had been training and planning for her Invicta debut, so she agreed to take yet another fight on short notice—three weeks this time. Not only that, but she agreed to fight at 125 pounds against Shannon Gunville, who stands at 2-1 through three pro fights and usually competes at 135 pounds. Outsized but not outgunned, Owen relishes the challenge and can’t wait to get in the cage.

“I like taking fights on short notice,” Owen admitted to The MMA Corner. “It helps me be mentally prepared, ready for anything that comes up. It’s another way of prepping for Invicta. Going up in weight, short notice—all of that is good for my mind.”

Thoroughbreds go through extensive training, and so does Owen.

“I am focusing more on my conditioning and strength this time. She is going to be bigger than me, so I need to be faster and be able to last longer. I work on technique every day, whether I have a fight scheduled or not, but this fight camp has more of a focus on cardio,” stated Owen. “In pro fights, we go five-minute rounds, and I haven’t fought since January. I used to fight every two months. This has been a long layoff.”

One advantage a horse has over a fighter is that the horse need never worry how to pay the bills. Fighters don’t have that luxury. Many of them work regular jobs. Owen actually has two jobs outside of training. She works as a UPS store clerk and also teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at AOL MMA in Westchase, Fla.

Owen has supplemented her MMA training at Highlander MMA by adding boxing with Chevelle Hallback, former champion for four different organizations. Owen also recently earned her purple belt in BJJ under Michael Yanez.

“The hardest part of fighting is believing,” Owen explained. “Once I got my purple belt, things just started to click. We were rolling and I thought, ‘I could get anything from anywhere.’ I believe that if I decide to tap someone out via the left arm, I can make it happen. I don’t have to wait for an opening or for a mistake; I can impose my will.

“My last fight was different. I have always been confident, but it’s a big difference when you really believe. I mean, I never thought I was going to lose a fight but now, I just feel different.”

Owen struggled to put into words how her mind set has changed. Any champion can empathize. You can see it in the eyes. No matter how bleak or how bad the situation might appear, winners will find a way to win.

A big part of horse racing is knowing when to rein it in.

“Even though I was ready to fight, I decided not to go to the TUF tryouts, partly because I really thought we might fight soon [for Invicta FC] and [I] wanted to be ready, but partly because I feel like I am just too inexperienced,” Owen said thoughtfully. “A lot of really experienced veterans are in the house already, and I feel like even in the tryouts that they would be looking more for girls with four or five fights, when I only have one professional bout.”

Each trainer and jockey knows that a good game plan is very important. Knowing the competition is a big component of formulating a great strategy.

“I study my opponents as much as possible. I am almost a stalker on social media,” laughed Owen. “I watch all the videos I can.

“[Gunville] looks tough, but her first two wins came against girls who may not have been good. I mean, in the first fight, the girl just stood there. She punched her in the face, and her opponent fell like a tree. It was a heavy right, but it was just really weird. Her corner actually threw in the towel. In her second fight, she was able to get a rear-naked choke. And I know you can’t always judge a book by its cover, but when a fighter is wearing running shorts, you have to wonder how serious she might be. The last girl that she lost to looked really good—she was in shape, actually shredded. Shannon lost by TKO.

“Gunville was a boxer, 9-1 ammy and 1-2 as a pro. She was a Golden Gloves winner. I think she is working on improving her wrestling. I am not looking past this fight or her, but [I] am prepared. This fight is to fix mistakes from my previous fights, to help me mentally stay active, and my main priority is to go in there and get it done. I am in a good position and want to continue to fine-tune all aspects. I am a professional in all aspects of my career, and I know that as a professional my record is important. This fight won’t be able to just go away if I don’t win. I don’t get to start over, so every fight is critical to advance.”

Owen was not willing to speculate on who she might face after Gunville. As is the case with most fighters, she prefers to keep an open mind.

“I am willing to fight anyone that Shannon [Knapp, Invicta president] throws at me,” she said. “When I first signed, they told me I wouldn’t fight anyone with more than three fights. But now that I am taking another fight, they might choose to put me in with a more seasoned vet. I don’t care. Cassie Robb just lost to Liz McCarthy. Ashley Greenway has been asked who she would like to fight in a couple of interviews, and she chose me—I would like that. I don’t know who they have in mind, but I am not afraid to get in that cage.”

California Chrome has a chance at winning the Triple Crown, and if you ask the trainers and vets from his home, Harris Farms, you’ll hear the same thing: “He has been something special from the beginning.” When you talk with folks who have trained with Owen or seen her fight, you’re likely to hear similar praise. And, like California Chrome, it’s time for Owen to get in there and prove what a champion she is.

Delaney would like to thank her sponsors: Brawl & Maul, Titan Medical, Covenant Business Solutions, The Press Box, Byrd & Gonzalez, Nala Dog and South Tampa Smiles for the awesome mouth guard. She also would like to thank her coach at Highlander MMA, Mike Yanez and her boxing instructor Chevelle Hallback. Follow Owen on Twitter: @scrappydl

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.