FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Portland, Maine (March 12, 2019) – New England Fights (NEF) Bantamweight Title Contender Taylor Thompson (3-0) has experienced her share of trials and tribulations in her 28-years of life. The former swimmer turned mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor recently joined host Joel Rojas on the Beyond The Cage podcast to discuss growing up in Utah, a recent health scare, and her upcoming title fight with fellow undefeated contender Andrea Howland (2-0) at “NEF 38: Stormborn” on April 27th in Portland, Maine.
“I was a competitive swimmer for the majority of my high school years,” Thompson explained to Rojas. “I had a shoulder injury right before I was hoping to swim in college, so that kind-of put a damper on my swimming career.”
Thompson first discovered the sport of MMA through a course she enrolled in while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Utah.
“It was called ‘Introduction to Mixed Martial Arts,’” she stated. “I had no idea what it was. I thought it was going to be like a week of karate, and a week of Aikido, and just kind-of dabbling in all of the very traditional martial arts. I thought that would be a fun way to get some athletic credit done.”
“It was actually taught by Jeremy Horn, so I kind-of got a little bit of an introduction to MMA, and jiu jitsu, and everything while there,” she continued. “I didn’t really do much with it. It was just kind-of a fun class. When I moved out to Massachusetts—I was accepted into a veterinary program in Central Massachusetts. As I moved out here for that I was like, you know, that MMA thing was fun, maybe I should keep doing that as a hobby that way I’ll have something to do outside of classwork, and studying. I signed up for a gym membership with Jorge Rivera at the Rivera Athletic Center at the time, and fell in love with it. I’ve been training ever since, and I actually ended up withdrawing from the veterinary program, because it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I decided I could always go back to school later, but you can’t really go back for an athletic career, so I figured if I’m going to take a shot at it now is my time.”
Thompson made her MMA debut in August 2017. She stopped her first two opponents before fighting inside the NEF hexagon for the first time in November 2018 against Catie Denning (2-1) at “NEF 36: Battle for the Gold.” Thompson moved her record to 3-0 by earning a unanimous decision win over Denning. It was her most challenging bout to date both in and out of the cage due to the health issues that she was dealing with in the lead-up to the fight.
“It was right after I accepted the fight [with Denning] I started having some lower abdominal pain, and I went to the doctor, and after a long process, and several diagnostic tools they were like, oh, there’s something in there,” Thompson stated. “We won’t know if it’s cancer or not until we get in there surgically, when can we operate?”
“I was like, um, not until after my fight,” Thompson continued. “They’re like, wait, are you serious? I’m like, yes. We scheduled the surgery for two days after my fight to get in there. They removed everything, and thankfully it was benign, so I don’t have any lingering issues, but just having that weight on your mind of an underlying health concern, or for other folks maybe it’s like a family issue, or a financial crisis, or whatever it is. You really do have to learn how to compartmentalize those stressors, and not let your concerns about one thing affect your training, and affect your fight. This last camp really helped me realize how important that is, and that I need to do better with it in the future.”
“Thankfully, it wasn’t on a vital organ,” she said. “It actually ended up being on one of my fallopian tubes. That was a little less pressure, because I was like, okay, even if it’s cancer it’s okay. They can just remove it, and everything’s fine. It wasn’t somewhere more critical.”
When Rojas asked Thompson how she was able to deal with so much adversity in the lead-up to such a high-pressure contest—Denning was undefeated at the time—Thompson credited her support team.
“It was a lot of pressure, that not knowing,” she explained. “I was working with my doctors, and I have a therapist, and I was able to talk about a lot of these issues, and kind of keep it under control, and wait till the surgery. The test results came back in after the surgery. There was a couple nerve racking days there, but I had to just keep my mind set that I was doing everything that I could about it, and everything else was just going to have to wait until the right time.”
“I feel like every fighter has those times where they feel like they’re taking on the world by themselves,” Thompson said. “It’s a difficult sport, and you have to handle a lot on your own. It’s like you’re trying to manage your weight cutting, and making sure you’re getting enough cardio training in, and juggling when am I going to work with my boxing coach versus my jiu jitsu coach, and just trying to get everything figured out until you’re at the stage in your career where you have a management team that kind-of handles it for you.”
With her health issues now in the rearview, Thompson has turned her full attention to capturing the first ever NEF Women’s Bantamweight Championship when she faces Michigan’s Andrea Howland (2-0) on April 27th.
“We’re both fairly early on in our careers,” Thompson stated. “I think we’re both shooting for this to be a good test for both of us. Outside of trying to win it’s definitely my goal to be the toughest fight that she’s ever had, and I expect that’s going be her goal as well, outside of winning, is to try and be in the toughest fight I’ve ever had.”
“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the sport is to know when your body’s had enough,” Thompson said. “I definitely am susceptible to overtraining, as opposed to the laziness, and I’ve pushed myself to the point where I’ve injured myself just out of sheer fatigue before. You just have to learn where your limits are, and know when it’s time to say, nope, that’s enough for today, and walk away, and feel accomplished even if you didn’t get to finish that last set of the circuit you wanted to do.”
NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 38: STORMBORN,” will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at Aura in Portland, Maine with a bell time of 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.AuraMaine.com.
About New England Fights
New England Fights (“NEF”) is a fight events promotions company. NEF’s mission is to create the highest quality events for fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.