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Rise of the Rose City Phoenix: Randi Field’s journey from near-death to pro fighter

Windsor’s Randi Field went from rock bottom to competing on one of MMA’s grandest stages.

Margaret Carr covered her ears and released a shriek of terror upon discovering her son with his leg twisted completely backward. Looking down the stone road, she saw an injured and disoriented Randi Field.

It was unknown if the eighth-grade student would survive and when police arrived on the scene they expected a fatality on their hands. If not for eight-year-old Brandon Carr, there wouldn’t have been any speculation.

“I was spinning and making a noise that I couldn’t control. I was convulsing and covered in blood,” Field said.

“I kept saying, ‘Randi, they’re coming. They’re coming.’ But she wasn’t responsive,” said Carr.

Enjoying their last day of a Labor Day weekend getaway at the family cottage, Field and Carr decided to take a ride on one of their all-terrain vehicles (ATV). The property was vast and always made for fun exploration with the only other house around roughly two kilometers away. First, Field was going to drive with Carr riding before her sister Tiffany’s turn.

Instead, disaster struck.

In 2022, Field, a mother of three, is lucky to live and tell her tale.

“The boy that was with me, I have three kids myself — six, eight, and 10 [years old]... I look at my eight-year-old son and I can’t even imagine him going through what the boy went through with me,” Field said. “Because what had happened was we were on the four-wheeler, and I said, ‘Watch how fast I can make this thing go and let me know what number I get to.’ He said he remembers it being full — like full speed.

“I didn’t have a helmet on because we only had one helmet,” she continued. “So he was wearing the helmet and there was a gravel road that was kind of slanted so the water could trail down. When I made it go, I got sucked into the forest and there was a big tree branch that smashed off his head then clipped me and knocked me out.”

The speed of the crash launched the kids flying as the ATV was lodged between two trees roughly five feet off the ground. Although Field got the worst of the crash, Carr didn’t come out unscathed as he suffered a broken femur.

With Field faced down, Carr sought out help as he began crawling a few hundred feet shouting to anyone who could hear him until eventually, his mother arrived.

“I was unconscious for maybe two to five minutes,” Carr said. “When I woke up Randi was kind of on top of me. At that time, I didn’t really notice her cut open and bleeding or anything. I kind of climbed back up onto the side of the road there and started crawling back a little bit and then I tried standing up at that point and my leg — my foot was facing my other leg. My whole leg was basically twisted around. I stood up and put a little bit of pressure on it and it felt exactly like when you’re sleeping and your leg falls asleep in the middle of the night. I had zero feeling in it, I was in no pain at all. So I just carefully laid back down on my stomach and then just crawled. I crawled to the point where my mom and her dad could hear me through the woods. Then they took a couple of minutes to get over there. I think they thought we were joking at first because when I got their attention I said, ‘Randi’s dying.’”

Carr can’t recall exactly how long it took to heal, but it wasn’t a quick process. His leg made a full recovery and is fully functional to this day after several additional — and painful — leg breaks during surgeries to fix the injury.

Road rashed from head to toe, split face, fractured tail bone, broken teeth, Field spent three nights in the intensive care unit (ICU) in Alpina, Michigan, and avoided physical therapy.

Carr post-accident holding a photo of Field.

“You can sit and watch other fighters and you can look at all this other stuff and try and get inspired by them but really you should get inspired by yourself because that person is there and you’re with you all the time,” Field said.

“I’m sitting there and I’m realizing at a point in my life where I would say some girls struggle with insecurity, I had 150 stitches in my face. My head was shaved and oh my god, my face was so ugly. But I threw a bandana on and my ass went to school two weeks after. I know that I’m tough and I know that I’m brave.

“I remember I had three pimples on my face and I was so upset that weekend,” she laughed. “Then I woke up to having 150 stitches in my face. I was like, ‘Oh, pimples don’t matter.’”

Despite the accident occurring 19 years ago, Field still draws strength from her near-death experience as she fights on one of the biggest platforms in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Later in life, Field, 31, found herself having to crawl out of yet another rock bottom type of scenario.

Growing up participating in sprinting and doing judo for seven years where she’d compete in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Field always placed gold. Self-described as a “loser” regardless of her sporting successes, bullying made her lose interest and motivation in everyday life. But that couldn’t prevent continuing to use exercise in the gym and sprinting as outlets for any pent-up anger.

The Windsor, Ontario native got into training just for fun at age 25 but was also slightly pushed in that direction by her father who trained his whole life in jiu-jitsu. Field reflects on it all as an attempt to bond and rekindle what developed to be a not-so-great relationship over time. Ultimately, it ended up working out when the coaches saw that there was something there with the 5-foot-3 power puncher.

“I don’t really want [my daughter] to watch me fight yet,” Field said. “I feel like I need to find my groove and do what I’m able to do. I don’t want my daughter seeing me get cut and think I died on the floor (laughs). I know my mom cries all the time. I know it’s hard for her, for sure. Then I’ve had uncles who refuse to watch me then I have uncles who are so excited to watch me.”

Previously working security for three years and still drinking at the time, Field labels her old life as “a mess,” living in subsidy housing and working as a gym sales representative. The situation left her coaches wondering how serious she was willing to take the sport.

Field’s passion for MMA turned out to be genuine enough as she enjoyed a six-fight amateur career before turning pro in June 2019 and now finds herself on the Bellator roster. She makes her second appearance in the promotion on April 23, 2022, at Bellator 279 in Honolulu, Hawaii opposite Maraya Miller in a 120-pound Catchweight contest.

“I’m gonna go in and I already know what to expect,” Field said. “I say I kind of have social anxiety. Going out, I have to prepare like, ‘Randi, you’re gonna have to small talk with people.’ And these are things I’ve worked up to over time. So now I remember the feeling I had that morning and it’s not like my whole entire life is gonna come rushing back to me that morning again because that happened, we know what you’ve been through, move on, b—ch. I’m not gonna have the same reaction as I did last time.

“I remember sitting in my room and staring out the window then I called my best friend and I started balling my eyes out,” she continued. “I’m about to go to war and I’m crying like a baby. This time, I can’t see that happening because I have clarity.”

Bellator 268 in Oct. 2021 was Field’s introduction to the big stage and unfortunately for her didn’t result in a victory. Facing Sumiko Inaba, the Combat Sports Academy (CSA) product fell to a second-round arm-triangle choke submission but learned several valuable lessons from what was just her third bout as a pro.

“The biggest takeaway for me actually was to realize how much work I need to do on my mental health,” Field said. “Because while I’ve been here at CSA, there’s so many things that they try and teach me and get me to do. The other night I was just hanging out in my room and I decided to look back on some of my fights. I watched one of my fights that I remember everything about that night. Everything was perfect. I remembered how calm I felt, I remembered the type of music I was listening to, and I don’t know why I went and changed all of that stuff.

“I had my cornerman who is my head coach [and boyfriend], Manny [Alfaro],” she continued. “He gives me a sense of calm and I seemed to think he was making me not feel calm so I wanted him out of my corner. It’s kind of just looking back on that and wishing that I had better mental health at that time but I didn’t and it’s okay because I’m so young in my career. I have a chance to come back and I knew what I really needed to work on and that was my head, and my cardio, too.”

Working her dream job as a massage therapist along with all her other classifications, Field enjoys the juggling act but realizes she’s a fighter through and through, and it all starts with that horrific Labor Day weekend.

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In anticipation of this upcoming contest, Field has had plenty of time for reflection as the memories resurfaced during this camp. It goes back to a moment after her battle with Inaba that acted as a trigger.

“I was doing cardio the other day and I was imagining… it came back to me,” Field said. “I remember waking up and just screaming because of the pain I was in. I was thinking about my fight coming and I remember Sumiko screaming after she finished me. I was like, where does that scream come from? And I f—king realized where that scream comes from because when I thought about it, I felt like I wanted to scream in victory. I should have died when [the accident] happened and I didn’t and I’m here and I’m a professional MMA fighter and I’m getting to go to Hawaii for free. It’s just all these things have pushed me to realize, ‘You are a fighter no matter what.’”

The accident was undeniably a massive moment in Field’s life as well as the aforementioned Carr’s. As a way to give back, Field says her manager Bryan Hamper plans to bring Carr out to one of her future fights.

“It’s awesome. I’m so happy for her,” Carr said. “It’s amazing that she’s been able to accomplish that [career as a fighter]. I hope she keeps going, keeps winning, and becomes the No. 1 fighter in the world.”

Hailing from the “Rose City” that is Windsor, Ontario, Field eventually adopted the nickname “Rose City Phoenix” after numerous rejected suggestions.

In a way, that young bullied girl who sat bloodied and wounded in the forest rose from the ashes to become a bright prospect and beacon of hope for others also looking to find their way.

“I feel like I was given a chance to be reborn and just start again,” Field said. “Live my life the way that I was supposed to. Because if you met me 10 years ago, you would have never put two and two together. I am not the same person at all.”

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