The best way to become great at something is to study someone who was great at it. Modern-day generals study past generals to learn how to win—and how not to lose. Philosophers study philosophy and build on the work, constantly checking the foundation of thought for cracks or mistakes. MMA fighters today are inspired by the combat athletes who have gone before them.

Amateur fighter Lauren Foley hopes to emulate the fighters she looks up to and build a world of success for herself in the sport she loves. Foley wrestled in high school, but once she moved on to college, she focused on rowing. Missing the competition of contact sports, she found MMA.

Foley (Twitter.com/FoleyLauren)

Foley (Twitter.com/FoleyLauren)

Foley watched videos of Gina Carano, her all-time favorite fighter. Carano had already left MMA for Hollywood, but there was something in the way she fought that made Foley want to try the sport.

“When I saw Carano’s videos, I became obsessed. I wanted to be a fighter like her,” Foley confessed in an interview with The MMA Corner.

So, despite going to school full-time and being on the rowing team, Foley joined the MMA club at her school and was hooked. Having a wrestling base has been one of her greatest strengths, not just in her ability to take down opponents seemingly at will, but also in her cardio and strength of mind. She has been evolving as a striker, using her time as an amateur fighter to build skills and knowledge.

“Kemp Savage was my rowing coach and he has been training me every morning,” Foley said. “He is head coach now for Eastern Michigan University. He really knows his stuff. We do all kinds of work including hill sprints. I really feel strong and explosive.

“After work I drive to the gym, Michigan Top Team, and work with my teammates and coaches. We will train from 6 to 8:30 or 9, then it’s back home. Sometimes, if I am too tired, I will stay at my mom’s house rather than make the 30- to 45-minute drive back home. She keeps chicken and spinach in the house for me. She knows I really can’t eat anything else in camp, even at 125.”

Like all amateur fighters and most pro fighters, Foley has a day job and has to make the time for training. Currently, she works full-time as a security guard. The job is her means of support, at least until her fight career takes off. She isn’t rushing things, though.

“I’ve been offered a pro fight. It was to be a rematch versus Rachael Smith,” Foley revealed. “We would both make our pro debut, and I would have a chance to avenge my loss. I considered it, looked into the fight, talked it over with my coaches and decided not to do it. They keep telling me, ‘Once you go pro, you don’t go back,’ and even though I really think—and they think—I can beat her, I would rather take this title fight [for the Warrior Xtreme Cagefighting flyweight title] as an amateur and gain more experience.

“Plus, I need to decide which weight class I need to be in. I’ve fought at 125 [pounds] and 115. I feel like 120 would be perfect for me. I seem to be a small 125er, but making weight at 115 has really been taxing. Cutting to 115 has been brutal. My last fight was supposed to be June 21, but I missed weight officially by two pounds. When I weighed myself at home, I was on point, but when I got to the weigh-ins their scale said I was two [pounds] over. I couldn’t cut anymore. And especially since it was another amateur fight and we weren’t getting paid, I didn’t want to put my body through more hell trying to make weight that day. I look at the pictures and I look like I was in a concentration camp, not a fight camp.

“The plan is to take a couple of amateur fights, figuring out which weight class is for me, and then go pro. I would really love to make my pro debut as an Invicta fighter—hint hint—but don’t want to rush into anything just yet. I want to be ready. If I am going to land at 115 [pounds], I am going to need professional help with a nutritionist. I feel like if I can compete at 125, it will lengthen my career and allow me to take more fights on short notice if needed. I could never do that at 115. Plus, at 115, I felt sluggish. My cardio seemed to fail me, and that has always been there for me. At 125, I feel stronger and better, so this fight will be a good test. [Natalie] Madej is bigger. She is a former power lifter and likes to muscle her way through fights. She throws big, hard punches, but I feel like I’m more technical and skilled all around.”

Foley (center) (Facebook)

Foley (center) (Facebook)

The amateur Foley has gone 5-2 so far, with her only losses coming against Amanda Bobby Cooper via TKO and the aforementioned Rachael Smith via split decision. Four out of five of her wins have come via TKO, so not only is she a good wrestler, but she also has power in her punches. She is going to need the power against Madej, who is 4-1. The two ladies will battle July 25 as part of the WXC event at the Southgate Civic Arena just outside of Detroit.

“She is going to have to avoid my takedowns to beat me. I think she is going to have a hard time with that, sort of like Rousey with the armbars,” Foley laughed. “Anyone who has seen my fights knows I like to work my ground-and-pound. My opponents know it’s coming, but I can still get it.”

Don’t be surprised when you start hearing about another female fighter named Foley. Foley’s twin sister, Lindsey, will be fighting on the same card.

“This is her third fight, and [she] has gone 1-1,” Lauren explained. “She actually wrestled a year longer than I did. The Lybarger twins were the first fighters I followed on Twitter, and they are an inspiration for us. I got to meet Jocelyn at Invicta FC 2, and she was just so down to earth. We are excited to be on the same card. It’s going to be awesome. It’s almost our hometown, so I expect we will have a big crowd behind us.”

A selection of wise folks from George Santayana to Winston Churchill have said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Foley is determined to learn as much about her art, her skill and her body before plunging into the depths of pro MMA. Madej will not only be facing an incredible athlete, but a studied and measured tactician.

Lauren would like to thank her sponsors, 1 More Training Gear, Resilient MMA, Pure Raw Nutrition and Kemp Savage. She would like to thank her teammates and coaches at Michigan Top Team, her friends and family for all their support (especially her mom for all the chicken and spinach). Follow Foley on Twitter: @FoleyLauren

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.