Choosing a career path is difficult for anyone. Sometimes it’s based on convenience. Other times it’s a matter of following in someone else’s footsteps.

Every once in a while, it’s something completely unexpected, as is the case for 21-year-old Maegan Goodwin.

The amateur fighter and aspiring sports trainer who attends Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., stumbled across mixed martial arts while in search of a good workout. Little did she know that it would become a huge part of her life.

“I’m surprised I’m still doing it,” she admitted with a laugh in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “At first I was dead set on not fighting. I told myself I never would because it intimidated me. As I got better at it, I realized that I had talent.”

Goodwin (Twitter)

Undefeated through her first two MMA bouts and one Muay Thai contest, Goodwin’s approach to the sport has evolved almost as much as her skill set.

“I didn’t used to think it could be a career,” she admitted. “I just wanted to see where it went. I thought maybe I’d just have a few ammy fights, but now that I’ve gotten better and gotten further into it, I’m starting to pick up sponsors and I might be able to make a career out of it. If I keep being dedicated like I am, it can take me as far as I want it to.”

Growing up on a farm, Goodwin experienced her fair share of physical activity. But that environment also taught the young fighter something else: patience. It’s a virtue she’s applying to her combat sports career.

“A lot of girls jump into being pro after two or three fights; that’s crazy to me,” declared Goodwin. “I don’t want to rush into it. I want to make sure that I’m ready. You have to have experience. I only trained about six months before my first fight.

“I want to turn pro next summer, but it depends on how my next two fights go and how comfortable I’m feeling.”

Goodwin’s comfort level in the cage was accelerated in her last outing, a third-round submission win over the highly touted Erin McDougall. McDougall, a Canadian who trains out of Jackson’s MMA, entered the contest 3-1, while Goodwin was fighting for only the second time.

“That win gave me a lot of confidence,” explained the Oklahoma fighter. “I was the underdog in that fight. She had a better record and was supposed to beat me. She came out of what was supposed to be a better gym.

“Fighting Erin showed me that all of that means nothing. I’ve trained hard and done what I need to do regardless of how famous my gym is or how many fights I’ve had.”

Even with the big boost to her confidence, Goodwin won’t shy away from the fact that McDougall revealed some holes in her still developing fight game.

“She exposed my clinch game and my fence game because I had never really worked on that,” said a candid Goodwin. “It’s something that I should’ve worked on because I am so tall. It’s easier for shorter competition to take me down. I’ve been working on that every day since that fight.”

The height that Goodwin alludes to comes in the form of a 5-foot-11 frame. Normally competing at bantamweight (135 pounds), Goodwin’s length is a huge weapon on the feet. But when the chance to compete for the ShoFIGHT featherweight title against Courtney Stowe on July 20 presented itself, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“I’m really, really excited,” expressed Goodwin. “I’ve wanted to work my way up to fighting for a belt; everyone wants a belt. I wish I could’ve gotten an offer at 135, but I need experience. ShoFIGHT is a great promotion, so I’m really glad they asked me to fight for it.”

Goodwin (Babes of MMA)

So is Goodwin concerned about her opponent having a size and strength advantage on Saturday night? Not one bit.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a difference,” Goodwin said nonchalantly. “I walk around pretty heavy, about what most 145ers walk around at, so I think I’ll still be just as strong as her. She may weigh more than me in the fight, but I still think that I’m going to be just as strong, if not stronger than her.”

Regardless of how strong Goodwin believes she is, she’s not taking the more experienced Stowe lightly.

“She’s shown that she’s tough. She has a lot more fights than me and she’s fought on bigger shows like Tuff-N-Uff. Hopefully she’s going to challenge me and we’re going to put on a really great fight.”

Much like her last fight, Goodwin again finds herself the underdog. But with a championship on the line, it’s something she’s relishing.

“I looked at Tapology and I’m at freaking 10 percent to win and Courtney’s at 90 percent,” revealed Goodwin. “I like being the underdog because it takes the pressure off me. She’s supposed to win. I want to go out there and show she’s not even going to come close to winning.

“That belt’s mine.”

Goodwin’s confidence may lead not only to gold around her waist come Saturday night, but a lengthy, yet unexpected career path.

Maegan would like to thank her teammates: Jon and Jaymee Jones, Jeron and Jace Miller, her coach: Jerry Miller, Jay from Fresh Start, Lonny Qualls with Zija, Insubordinate Clothing, Nectar Sunglasses, Rich Generation, and her family and friends. Follow her on Twitter: @maegan_elayne32

Top Photo: Maegan Goodwin (Facebook)