Hawaii and the UFC have hooked up once again and this time it’s a history-setting acquisition for the company. Hawaii’s own Kailin Curran has recently inked a deal with the world’s largest MMA giant and in doing so she will become the first female fighter to represent the islands in the UFC octagon. Curran, who is 3-0 in her professional MMA career, is currently training out of Reign Training Center in southern California and will make her UFC debut against Paige VaZant on October 4th at UFC Fight Night 54. The two will meet each other in only the third stawweight fight (115 lbs) in UFC history.
Kailin was kind enough to sit down with BJPenn.com and discuss her new deal with the UFC, her pride in representing the Hawaiian Islands, and her upcoming bout with fellow UFC newcomer, Paige VanZant. Here is Curran’s exclusive interview with BJPenn.com:
How does it feel to be the first Hawaiian female fighter in the UFC?
“It’s amazing. I’m excited.”
“There are a bunch of other Hawaiians that are fighting too so, for me to get my chance as a female, and being the first female, especially out of Hawaii…it’s a dream.”
How does it feel to join the ranks of other Hawaiian UFC fighters such as Travis Brown, Brad Tavares, and Max Holloway?
“It’s cool. I’m not training in Hawaii anymore. I moved up to California, so I don’t really get to train alongside them like I used to, but to have a Team Hawaii to represent our island, it’s pretty good.”
Do you feel that you are the same or different in your style of fighting representing the Hawaiian islands through MMA?
“I think I fight like them, just like every Hawaiian does. Every time that they’re fighting they give everything that they got.”
Is that what fans can expect from you?
“Yeah, for sure.”
What do you know about your upcoming opponent, Team Alpha Male prospect Paige VanZant?
“I watched some tape on her, some of her fights, and she’s tough, you know? She looks tough, which is perfect for me because, I mean, it’s going to be a good fight no matter what.”
“It’s not like it’s going to be an easy fight but it’s a fight that I feel is going to benefit both her and I, so I think it’s a perfect matchup.”
This is going to be a breakout fight for you. Some fans are not familiar with your name or your background yet, so what should all those fans know about you heading into this upcoming bout with VanZant?
“I sacrificed a lot to be where I am today. I took myself out of my own comfort zone, I moved away from all of my friends and family at home.”
“I give 110% in everything that I do and I hope [the fans] enjoy watching me.”
You’re just over a year outside of your pro debut. Did it come as a surprise to you that you got the call to join the UFC roster?
“It was pretty crazy because I didn’t think that this progress would have happened this fast, or would have ever happened at all, being that Dana White wasn’t very interested in girls…and then I think Ronda paved the way.”
“When I heard they were starting the 115 weight class I didn’t think that I would get there as fast as I did but, I’m like still in shock that the date came.”
Kailin goes on to explain how she learned of her UFC contract.
“The day that I found out I was actually watching my boyfriend surf at the US Open in Huntington and he had just finished his heat. Ryan (Parsons) was there, my manager, and he was down hanging out all weekend, and he handed me a bunch of papers. I looked at him and I looked at the papers and I said, ‘what is this?’ As soon as it clicked in my mind I was just like, ‘oh my gosh, no way. This is a contract.’”
“It didn’t even feel real. I was like numb and I started crying and, I was so happy! I was shocked.”
“A lot of people are congratulating me that I made it to the UFC and this and that but honestly I feel like there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. I’m so happy to be here but it fuels my fire to know, it motivates me to know that I’m in the UFC and I’m representing Hawaii; first female out of Hawaii. It just gives me lots of motivation.
What made you leave Hawaii and start training at Reign Training Center in Southern California?
“First off, I came out here just to visit, just to visit California.”
“This lady named Courtney Conzelman, she was working for FOX and she actually used to manage FORM [Athletics]. So she actually used to work with Urijah Faber and Mark Munoz. Mark Munoz’s gym is like right down the road from San Clemente, like 20 minutes away, and so she hit him up and asked if it was cool if she could take me by and just check out the gym over here. So I checked it out and I met Mark, I initially met Mark there, exchanged info and stuff. I sparred there when I went in again and I, like, I felt good energy when I came; I really liked the vibe at that gym. After that I went home, talked to Mark and he welcomed me. He was like, ‘you know, if you want to come up here and train we got some girls, [like] Jessica Penne, so I felt like that would be a good move for me, not just only for MMA. I’ve lived in Oahu for my whole life so I’ve been wanting to venture out and kind of just be on my own because at home it’s easy to just live with family and, you live with your parents forever, until you’re financially stable. So I figured I’d move out here and try it out and that’s how I ended up at Reign.”
Do you feel like it is a good fit and you are progressing/evolving as a fighter?
“Definitely, definitely. Mark is so good with me, he does 1-on-1s and there are a lot of places to train here and a lot of good coaches that I’m working with right now so I feel like I’ve progressed a lot out here as a fighter.”
We would like to thank Kailin for sharing her time with the fans and from all of us here at BJPenn.com we wish her the best of luck as she represents the Hawaiian Islands inside the octagon against Paige VanZant on October 4th at UFC Fight Night 54.
You can show Kailin support on Twitter @kailincurran.
Tags: Kailin Curran, mma, MMA NEWS, ufc, ufc news