This is number eighteen in my series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, I’m pleased to feature Invicta FC fighter, Bec Rowdy Hyatt. Hyatt burst onto the WMMA scene earlier this year when she was a late replacement in the main event of Invicta FC 4. The Australian, Hyatt, lost that fight for the strawweight championship, but she won our attention with her performance and her personality. Please enjoy our conversation below.
Jack Brown: I'm ignorant about, but fascinated by, the area where you grew up, the Australian island of Tasmania. What are some of the special things about Tasmania that you think more people should know?
Bec Hyatt: To tell you the truth, Tasmania is just a simple little island where not much goes on. I affectionately call it “Spazmania” myself, but don't get me wrong, it's a great place to retire and a beautiful place to visit. If you're young though, and you have dreams and aspirations, you definitely have to move on at some point. Tasmanian MMA is so far behind the times that only now are fighters there learning to cut weight!
JB: When did you first get started with martial arts/combat sports and when did you realize that it was more than just a hobby for you?
BH: I initially started training in January of 2010, but at first I had no intentions of fighting. My martial arts journey began as a way to lose weight actually, and at the time I was a big Oompa Loompa with not much motivation or discipline. Throughout my childhood, I was very athletic and always playing sports, but moving into my teen years, I got caught up with the wrong crowd and began binge drinking and eating. For example, prior to my first pregnancy in 2008, I was pushing 155lbs, and I weighed even more after it. After watching a John Wayne Parr instructional, it motivated me, and I decided I was going to lose my weight through kickboxing. That was where I met my husband, and I guess you could say that the rest was history. At first, I only wanted to do kickboxing personals because I was quite reserved about rolling around on the ground with smelly men, but soon enough I got caught up in the MMA buzz, and within a couple months, I wanted to fight. I had to wait longer than I wanted to though, after becoming pregnant a second time, but I eventually got my chance in late 2011.
JB: How did your friends and family react as you began to fight competitively?
BH: Knowing the way that I am, my friends and family weren't exactly surprised when they found out that I wanted to fight. I think some of them didn't believe at first how serious I was, especially my parents, but as time went by, everyone began to realize I was for real and this was something I believed in and was serious about. My parents still don't really like the fact that I fight, but they have come to accept it. It didn't help though that my mother attended my first professional fight and watched her youngest daughter get knocked unconscious in front of thousands of people! She hasn't watched a fight since. At the end of the day, I love this sport, I picture it being a part of my life until the day I die, and it's great that I have my family and friends’ acceptance, even if they don't all support what I do!
JB: Your husband is a fighter as well. How did you two first meet and how have you supported each other's training while also raising children?
BH: My husband Dan was actually my first trainer and manager. He got me into this sport and helped me lose a lot of my first pregnancy weight to begin with. Being known as Australia's husband and wife fighting couple does come with its perks, but as much of a good thing as it can be, it can also be a hindrance at times, especially when we both have fights coming up. Thankfully, for my past four camps though, Dan has taken a back seat and looked after our two children, allowing me to train at the level I need to! This has made a huge difference in my preparations and my performances, but I know it’s not going to last forever. Raising two children, while both focusing on fight careers, is certainly difficult, but really, it's just about finding the right balance, and I'm sure we'll find that someday soon. Well hopefully we do!
JB: What do you recall about your first professional fight, and how were you able to rebound so successfully from that loss?
BH: I can remember everything from my debut fight, even the knockout itself! At the time, I'd been training for roughly less than a year, when factoring in my second pregnancy, but I was certainly keen to fight. Looking back now, perhaps I wasn't ready. Although there was nobody then that could have told me any different, and I was confident about the match-up. Leading up to the fight itself, I was walking around at 119lbs, while the fight was at 132lbs, and my opponent was cutting. This didn't concern me at all as I genuinely believed I was going to win. So to get knocked out by such a sloppy kick, when I was winning, was heartbreaking to say the least. A loss like that so early in my career, through some eyes, may have not been ideal, but it definitely motivated me to work harder and it took a lot of pressure off me going into future fights. Shortly after the fight, there was talk that I wouldn't want to fight ever again, but the result, if anything, actually made me hungrier and drew me closer to the sport. I'm a very confident person, and I have a strong belief in myself, so the rebound was easy and I went on to win four straight fights and contest a world title over five rounds! Despite losing in my professional debut, it's still one of my favorite fights, and if I could go back in time, I'm not really convinced I would want to change the result due to where I am now.
JB: How did you get involved with Invicta FC and what about the promotion has impressed you thus far?
BH: Well, since the announcement of IFC in early 2012, my number-one goal, like any serious female fighter, I guess, instantly became to get noticed and signed by the organization. After stringing together a three-fight winning streak within six months, I began to struggle for opponents in Australia. So acknowledging this, and having confidence in my skills and marketability, I rallied up my fan base to 20,000 at the time, and began campaigning to be signed. This method had worked for me in the past with anti-WMMA promoters locally in Australia, but the reception I received for my IFC rally was AMAZING, and their social media pages were literally flooded with requests to see me signed. It was definitely hard to miss my name for a while there, but at first nothing really happened. I then signed on to fight a girl from Egypt, who was on the 2012 Olympic Boxing team, but she was denied entry into Australia, literally on weigh-in day. On less than 24-hours-notice, I faced a grappler and novice MMA fighter, by the name of Christina Tatnell, and, predictably, I dominated her. Because of the circumstances, and the standard of my late replacement opponent, never in a million years did I expect to get a contract offer from IFC, but that's exactly what happened and here we are today. As far as what has impressed me with the promotion thus far, the answer is EVERYTHING! As a fighter, the treatment I've received so far has been first class and I'm so honored to have been the first ever Australian fighter to compete for the organization. The level of professionalism has been on a whole other level compared to what I've experienced previously, and I'm definitely hoping to make Invicta Fighting Championships my home for a long, long time to come!
JB: Your main event, title fight, against Carla Esparza, at Invicta FC 4, must have gotten you a significant amount of international attention. How has that impacted you?
BH: First, let me say again that I still cannot believe that so many fighters, including my original opponent, turned down this opportunity. This sport is so unpredictable, even at the best of times, and all it can take is one loss, an injury, or a mistake to lose title contendership. So I have absolutely zero regrets skipping the line and accepting the fight. At the time, I'd never accepted a short notice fight, but as if I was going to turn down an opportunity like this or leave my promoter hanging. I'm not naive to the fact that it's in a fighter’s best interests to keep their promoter happy, and at the same time, I knew that regardless of the result, a match-up with Carla Esparza was going to benefit me more than a win over my original opponent. During fight week, I had to deal with my fair share of negativity with many MMA "experts" suggesting I wouldn't last a single round. With the odds at 10-1, I was definitely the underdog, but other than the result, I wouldn't change a thing. The result was bittersweet, but given the circumstances, I definitely wasn't too disappointed in my performance, and now I'm very much looking forward to earning my way back to another title shot and rematch against Esparza. Make no mistake, in that fight, I never felt in danger, was never hurt, and I know I could have continued fighting for many more rounds to come! Esparza, of course, deserved her victory on points. She fought a smart fight, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity that I was given. The amount of experienced I gained has been invaluable, and the many sponsorship and media opportunities are furthering my career.
BH: I think it's safe to say that this is one of the more exciting match-ups on the card and a fan-friendly one at that. I know that Jasminka is 5-0 in MMA, that she holds numerous kickboxing titles, and that she has also had over twenty stand-up fights, but all that really means diddly-squat once the cage door locks behind us. Luckily, my team and I were able to get our hands on a bunch of tape on her, and we're fully aware of what she is capable of. We're confident that this will be a tough fight for me, but the comparisons I've seen mentioned between Jasminka and my original IFC 4 opponent, Joanne Calderwood, are a little disrespectful to Calderwood, I think. In terms of training, this will actually be the first fight I've ever had a game plan for, and I'm very excited about that, but nothing else has really changed, aside from convincing a former NCAA division 1 wrestler from Arizona to be my wrestling coach. Anyway, enough about all that irrelevant nonsense!
We all know that this fight will be a challenge for me, and that Jasminka is certainly not to be underestimated, but she sure has lit a fire under my ass! In a recent interview, she suggested that I talk a little too much, which I don't disagree with at all. I love to talk! The irony of this, however, is that I've discovered that her fiancé continually trash-talks about me on my fan page, suggesting that I'm not a real fighter and I'm nothing but hype. I didn't actually click on it at first, but then I noticed the same douchebag facial tattoo! From day one, I had originally planned on keeping it civil leading into this fight, as I had no issues with Jasminka and I was happy to ignore the twenty "fan" memes that she tweets me a day, which really her buddy from Germany just creates for her. I was pretty content with keeping it cool and respectful, but then I discovered that her fiancé is trash-talking me and he accuses me of being a junkie and a steroid abuser. Well folks, as they say, “You cannot fix stupid,” and things may just get a little awkward for this scallywag and his precious on April 5th! Once I lay hands on Jasminka Cive, she is going to wish she was still back in Austria fighting gypsies in homemade cages. Do not miss this fight!
JB: You have already accomplished quite a bit personally and professionally. What other plans or goals do you have for the future?
BH: I guess my main goal, like any fighter, is to continue to grow and develop my skillset and knowledge. I'm kinda, sorta obsessed with this sport and it occupies my thoughts for most of the day. So I'm always trying to figure out how I can improve on this or that, and I would hope that shows every time I fight. Aside from that, my main focus is now on embarrassing Jasminka Cive on April 5, and then eventually earning my way back into the title picture. I'm very hungry at the moment, and I hope IFC continues to feed me throughout 2013!
JB: Last question, Bec, and thank you so much for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
BH: Mixed Martial Arts has literally changed my life, and my status, as one of the most well-known WMMA fighters in the world, means a lot to me. In the space of three years, I went from an overweight and unmotivated pig, to a world title contender and full-time athlete. I'm over the moon that I found this sport at the time I did in my life, and it always puts a smile on my face when I get fan-mail or when little children come up to me asking for an autograph or photo. Without my supporters, I know I wouldn't be in the position that I am today, and I would like to thank them for all their support! Thanks must also go out to my newest sponsor, Americana MMA, along with my team at Impact MMA in Capalaba, Integrated MMA in Stafford, and my wrestling coach, Danny Galvan, on the Gold Coast. Thanks for having me, Jack!