Towards the end of every training camp, as the fight approaches, I usually have a hard time shutting my mind off. Rather than over analyze my upcoming fight and opponent, I’ve found a fun way to focus my energy as fight night approaches. I channel my energy into making costumes for my weigh in.
Pretty random right? Well here's how it started.
When I first got released from the UFC in 2015 and signed with #Invicta FC, an all female fight promotion, I knew I had to dress up as something good for weigh-ins. At that time Invicta FC weigh-ins had this reputation where at least one or two fighters would wear costumes-- and a lot of people would criticize it saying it looked like a Comic-con convention. To which I thought "oh I'll show you a Comic-con convention!"
I didn’t want to do what most of the other fighters did, which is to get a store-bought costume and dress up as sexy characters. I actually have a Bachelors degree in Fine Art, so when presented the opportunity to create, I jumped at it. I figured I'd go full convention nerd and make costumes of video game characters from scratch. The characters I picked usually had something to do with my mindset going into each fight, so I'd wait until a week or two before the fight to figure out what I was going to do.
For my first Invicta fight, I dressed up like a vault dweller from “Fallout 4,” wearing a blue and yellow jumpsuit with a homemade pipboy and everything!
Up until that point I had been big on googling what my opponent was up to, myself to find out what people thought about me, random people's fight predictions; my fights were the only things I thought about, and I finally realized I was overwhelming myself. After making the decision start giving my brain a break from fight life during my down time, "Fallout 4" was a great game to allow me to zone out and play for hours. So for my first fight camp like that, dressing up like the main character from that game seemed perfect.
When I took my next fight on five days notice, my husband helped me put together my Dhalsim get up. We already thought that one would be cool to do before I had my fight booked, but we still had to scramble and get all the materials. My husband made me a cool skull necklace from paper mache and I stitched some yellow tattered shorts together real quick. With the face paint, and after practicing Dhalsim's signature celebration dance a few times, my weigh-in stunt turned out even better than I thought it would.
Another time, when I was on the same card as my teammate Christine Stanley, I thought it’d be fun to do a group thing. So Chris, my corner woman Jessica Penne, and I dressed up like The Warriors, and my other corner man, coach Dae Dae, painted his face and wore one of Scramble Brand's Baseball Furies rashgaurds. That was one of my favorite ones even though it was a pain in the ass to stitch all those vests.
Then there was the Afro Samurai.
I thought that was appropriate because I had just won the Invicta belt, and if you know the Afro Samurai story, he’s searching for the best fighter in the world who holds the number-one headband. But, in order to challenge the guy with the number-one headband, he needs the number-two headband -- I felt like my Invicta FC belt was the number-two headband and the UFC strawweight belt was number one. The number-two headband holder could be challenged by anyone with the guts to step up, and that's what that matchup was like. I felt like it was really fitting.
I had this big, elaborate plan of doing something “Alien” themed for my first fight back in the UFC, but when I found out there would be no ceremonial weigh in, I had to simplify my plans. I always wanted to dress up like Sagat, seeing as how I have a Muay Thai background and how he's the most badass character in Street Fighter, so I went with that. I MacGyver'ed myself a costume. I bought some black duct tape and a headband and used that for the eye patch, drew the scar on my chest with eyeliner and lipstick, and taped up my hands and feet with sports tape before face-offs.
I like that dressing up for weigh ins has become something I’m known for. I'm not sure what I can get away with under the Reebok dress code, but if I can, I plan on keeping the video-game theme going just because playing games is something I really enjoy outside of fighting. I like to have fun with fight week and weigh ins, and putting together an awesome costume has been a great way to stay calm and relaxed during the days where my anxiety is at its highest.