Amanda Lucas (5-1) is one of the rising stars in women’s MMA today. After losing her first MMA fight in New Zealand, the woman known as “Powerhouse” has gone on a tear, winning her next five straight. With her success inside the cage, she is now eying a drop to 145 lbs. where she believes she stands a good chance of continuing her rise here in the US. She spoke with Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio Sunday night about her introduction to mixed martial arts, her time on the reality TV show, Robot Combat League, and some of her life outside the cage.
Lucas, who is the daughter of famed film director, George Lucas, has been training for nearly a decade. She explained, “It all kind of started about 8 or 9 years ago, my husband and I kind of decided we wanted to be healthier, you know, get in better shape. He had been a UFC fan from the time he had been a little boy, and I pretty much wouldn’t watch boxing [since] about fifteen years ago, so that’s pretty much where I was coming from. So we decided to go down to Fairtex and take muay thai and jiu jitsu, and once I got into ‘jits,’ it was like, ‘oh this is kind of fun, and I’m not to bad at it,’ and then, ‘oh, maybe I should train a little more,’ and then, ‘maybe I should do a tournament,’ then my friend got her first fight. It just kind of snowballed, you know, I had no intention [and] I never even thought that I could do it when I started taking classes. I just kind of fell in love with it and went from there.”
For Lucas, going with it meant leaving her long-time job as a dance teacher. “It was something that I figured, I could teach dance or dance when I’m older,” she said, “I figured if I’m going to fight I need to do it now. I mean, I’m 31 now, I’m not young by any means in this sport, especially now. It was a hard decision, it took me a really long time to make it as well. My husband was kind of like, you know, ‘are you struggling with this? It’s OK, you can take a break.’ It was a good relief when I finally chose to step back… [My coworkers] were all really supportive. I basically explained to them, you know, I loved those kids; I was so proud of them, and I loved them, but all I was thinking about was training… I just wasn’t all there for them, you know. So I said, ‘hey, I feel like these kids deserve somebody who is a little more focused on them.’ They were happy for me.”
She received a little more of a reaction from her parents, though they supported her from the very beginning. Lucas described, “My mom was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re going to break your nose, you have a perfect nose!’ That was verbatim what she said. I was like, ‘It’s OK, I’ll get a nose-job one day.’ Actually, it took me eight years to get a broken nose, so I think that’s a pretty good track record. But both my parents have always been super supportive… [My dad] always been really supportive, but I think it kind of took him a minute, and it really hit home for him when he realized I was going to stop dancing. That’s what I’ve done… For him to wrap his head around that I was going to take a break from something I love and try a sport that involved getting punched in the face and that he didn’t really know that much about. I think it was a little bit of a shock, but he’s the first to want to see my fight video when I come back from Japan and everything. So I’m really lucky in that sense.”
Amanda described her whole family as being nothing but supportive of her career choice. She and her husband began training together, and it was in one of these training sessions that she got her first black eye. “I was so proud of my first black eye! I actually got my first black eye, and it was a beautiful black eye. It was like bright magenta! I was my first day in muay thai class holding pads. It was me and my husband, and I was totally overwhelmed and fascinated by the gym. So I wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing at all, and I was holding kick pads for him. He goes to throw a kick, and I’m just spacing out looking around the gym, and I actually… he kicked the pad, and I hit myself in the face with my own hand. I got into the bathroom after class and everyone was like, ‘are you OK?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh I’m fine.’ Then I looked in the mirror and was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s awesome!’ and like it didn’t really hurt, and I was so proud. I was always kind of wimpy growing up, so I just assumed getting hit in the face would hurt a lot more [laughs]. I was so proud of it, I couldn’t wait to go home and show my dad.”
Amanda has come a long way from the days of giving herself black eyes, winning her last five fights, three of which came via submission. However, it is her first fight that had a lasting impact on her, both in terms of her approach to the sport and her belief in herself. On this loss, she said, “I was kind of humiliated, and my pride was hurt, although I have to say I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can take a real good beating, that I’m not going to quit, and that I can get out for the third round whether… even though, knowing that I’m not going to win the fight, but still going out and finishing what I came to do. So I kind of dusted myself off and let my black eyes heal, I went to Thailand for a month just to kind of hang out and train right after. So I was able to just clear my head, and I realized that I still wanted to fight. It didn’t take very long. I went back. Every camp you learn something different, and as I’ve settled in here in Vegas I kind of got more of a routine. And it helps actually, you know, I’ve been fighting in Japan a lot, so it’s just kind of all more consistent. I guess I just kind of fell in love with it. The first one didn’t go so well, but looking back at it, I wouldn’t have changed anything just because I learned so much. Like I said, I learned I could take a beating. There are so many things I learned that first fight that gave me a sense of confidence and strength.”
This confidence and strength have led Lucas to a 5-fight winning streak with her last four fights taking place in Japan. Despite having traveled to and living briefly in Japan, she would like the opportunity to fight back in the US. To do that, she’ll be looking to drop a weight-class and enter one of the American-based shows featuring 145 lbs. women’s MMA. “I’m ready to fight at 145,” said Lucas, “that’s been my plan. I’ve had success at 55 too, but I know being in the States at 145 is definitely the way to have more opportunities and do more with. So I would love to come back and fight in the States, it’s just a matter of the right time and the right fight… I would love to say that, before I retire, I fought in the UFC. I did an interview probably a year ago, and it wasn’t even on my radar that it was something we’d see anytime soon. It was like, ‘yeah, you know, maybe one day if there’s women in the UFC,’ so of course, it’s awesome. I know I have work to do, I know I have stuff to learn. I’m all about the right fight at the right time.”
If success inside the cage were not enough for Lucas, she had a recent stint in reality television where she was invited to compete in the Robot Combat League. This show featured two people each controlling a robot in a three-round fight. Though Amanda lost, she loved the experience. She said, “I mean the robots were insane. It was so exciting! Sometimes we’d be shooting really late at night, early in the morning, [but] no matter how exhausted you were, during the fight scene it was insane energy. It was like destruction and breaking s***, I don’t know, it was so cool! I wish I had some more time to do some more damage… I would love to have some more time to play. I felt like I got, not short-changed, but it was over so quick. We trained a little with the robots, but for the time you’re really going at it for the fight, you know, we got destroyed so quickly that I would love to go back and have another chance. Plus hopefully they can progress the technology. I’d be curious to see what it’s like a few seasons down the road. I think now that they’ve done it and worked out some of the kinks, they can really do some cool stuff with the technology as it gets better… It was a lot of fun, and I met some great people, and it was just a great experience!”
As yet, Lucas does not have a next fight scheduled. If all goes according to plan, however, she could be fighting in the US in the near future. She currently trains in Las Vegas, Nevada at Syndicate MMA.
To hear the full interview with Lucas, click here.