In September of 2015 a heavily-tattooed Aussie boarded a plane with a vision of taking on the world. Megan Anderson was setting off to fight inside a cage, outside of Australia, for the very first time. As much as she would have liked to play it down, nerves were running rampant. She’d only been fighting professionally for about two years. She’d only lost one fight out of five fights and she was preparing to mix it up with the best of them.
It was supposed to be a whirlwind trip – an experience of a lifetime that would see her either sink or swim. As she sat in her economy seat, on board the first of way too many flights for a twenty-four hour period she thought she was ready.
Nothing could have prepared Anderson for how the events played out, though. She would go on to lose her fight – the biggest one of her career at the time. However, that didn’t discourage her at all, but it still turned her life upside down.
In the best way imaginable.
“I was only planning to stay for two and a half weeks and was then planning on coming home,” Anderson told Champions. “I had no intention of staying. I knew eventually I’d have to move to the [United] States, but I always thought that I’d go home first and then work out how, and when, I’d come back.
“To stay and not go back to Australia at all, that was a pretty hard decision to make because I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to my family or friends, it was just kinda like ‘Oh by the way, I am now staying here and living here forever, pretty much.’ It was good because my parents came over for my fight so I got to see them but when they left, they were back in Australia by the time I found out I was able to stay.
“It was hard, because it’s a lot of money to fly from Australia and back, I knew that if I was going to stay I wasn’t going to see my family for a long time. My last day in Australia was me traveling to fly out for my fight. I got up at pretty much the crack of dawn to drive to the airport in Coolangatta and then we flew to Sydney and that was it.”
The decision to stay in a foreign country to try and make a living was never going to be easy for the then-25-year-old. Whilst Anderson had found something that she loved, in being a professional fighter, there was still a lot that she considered before she truly committed to starting her new life halfway across the globe.
“It was more a case of me wanting to know what my parents thought and whether they supported it,” she admitted. “I kind of knew [relocating] was what I needed to do to progress my career so I just kinda did it based on that. They were really supportive though, and they knew that it was what I needed to do. I talk to them pretty much as often as I can, at least a couple of times a week. My mum thinks it’s exciting because I get to experience new places and everything, she enjoys the fact that I’m able to go out and live my life. My mum and dad traveled a lot when they were younger so she wants that for me.”
The only employment that Anderson had when she landed in the United States was her face-punching gig with Invicta FC. And, that’s still the only American-based employment on her resume since stepping foot on American soil a little over eight months ago.
“I’m literally living from fight to fight,” Anderson said. “The money that I get from fighting is the money that I live off. It’s pretty much all or nothing really. It’s been easy because I’ve got a really supportive community here at [my gym] Glory – they’ve helped me out a lot. It has been relatively smooth but it’s still hard being away from my family though and by the time I see them, I won’t have seen them for over a year. It’s tough but I know that’s what I need to do to get to that next stage of my career.”
Although her life revolves around fighting and training, Anderson still manages to find time to balance work and play. A big part of the ‘play’ portion of her life is not what you’d expect of a 20-something woman who fights for a living. She enjoys watching professional wrestling and makes the time to keep up to date with as much of the WWE Universe as possible.
“I watch it a lot,” Anderson exclaimed. “I have the [WWE] Network. I used to watch it a lot when I was younger, and when I went away to the Army I didn’t keep up with it as much but I’ve been regularly watching it and keeping up to date with everything for the last two years. It’s good being here, one of the guys I train with, he loves it, so we go and watch some of the local shows, which is great. It’s good because the time difference always made it hard to watch it in Australia, so it’s much easier over here. Everyone loves it here as well. It’s awesome.”
Professional wrestling isn’t the only keen interest that Anderson holds. She also has an love of superheroes, but her interest in the world of Marvel didn’t exactly develop in a traditional way.
“I was bullied as a kid,” Anderson explained. “Through most of my teens and pre-twenties I kinda wished that I had a superpower that made me stand out which would help make people like me. I also liked the fact that the guy always gets the girl and they always have a happy ending and they beat the bad guy and all of that stuff. I like the happy endings so I think that’s what helps draw me to them. I prefer Marvel over DC, and my favorites would have to be Captain America and The Hulk.”
After losing her Invicta FC debut to a veteran fighter in Cindy Dandois, Anderson regrouped in a big way. In her return to the Invicta FC cage she was slated to meet a fighter who was considered a newcomer to the sport. Amber Leibrock made waves in her professional debut when she defeated MMA veteran Marina Shafir in devastating fashion in just 37-seconds. Anderson managed to defeat Leibrock by technical knockout in the third round of their bout, and it was a moment that the Australian will never forget.
“It was a pretty significant win for me because it was a culmination of everything – moving to a different country, changing gyms, changing camps, everything changed so it was a great experience,” Anderson said. “Everything that I’d sacrificed and worked for had paid off. It was such a good win for me.”
Leading up to the bout there was a lot of hype behind Leibrock because of her debut victory over Shafir, who is good friend of Ronda Rousey. A lot of people expected that Anderson would share the same fate as Shafir did – but she managed to prove everybody wrong. It was the help of those closest to her that made it all possible.
“I didn’t really pay too much attention to [the hype],” she said. “She did have a pretty big first fight. Marina Shafir is not a name, though. I don’t rate her much as a fighter. So, going into the fight we felt like her game was pretty basic so we were prepared for whatever. It was a tough fight and mentally it was tough going into that fight off a loss. I have a great team though and James Krause helped me so much not only with my MMA game but also with my mental game and I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Anderson’s next bout takes place at Invicta FC 17 in Costa Mesa, Calif. on May 7. She is set to meet Amanda Bell, who is coming off a loss to Faith Van Duin. Bell has been fighting since 2008, and although she may have the edge in experience, it’s not something that Anderson is paying attention to.
“She was quite successful as an amateur,” Anderson said. “But she’s been pretty hit and miss as a professional and she also hasn’t fought in over a year. We’ve watched footage on her and we feel like her stand up isn’t at the level that mine is and she doesn’t have much of a wrestling or ground game. I’ve prepared for her to be tough but I think she’s just gonna be beaten in all areas in this fight. I always write down how I envision my fights going and on my water bottle at the moment I have ‘I will finish Amanda Bell in the first round.' That would be the perfect fight for me.”
(Images courtesy of Invicta FC)