According to a Feb. 24 post from BlogTalkRadio.com, Jordan Nicole Gaza said in a recent interview with Wombat Sports that her time as a high school cheerleader helped her make a smooth transition into MMA fighting.
Gaza explained that cheerleading helped her develop mental toughness, endure tough practices, grind out painful training sessions and perform well in front of large crowds.
"It was so intense, those practices and by the time I was a senior in high school, I was burnt out from it," Gaza said of her stint as a high school cheerleader in Texas. "It was crazy, hard and intense. People ask why I went from cheerleader to MMA fighter, thinking it's so different, and I'm like 'No, actually it's not.' The conditioning, the getting beat up, it's kind of the same thing in a way."
Gaza is one of a handful of former cheerleaders turned MMA fighters. Besides Gaza, Invicta FC star Cassie Robb used to be a cheerleader, and so was Kansas-based striker Rachel Wray.
Wray was a standout pro cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs, before shifting her focus to MMA.
"I would fall on my head a lot when I would tumble, but I never injured myself too badly from doing that," Gaza said. "Breaking all my fingers on a back hand spring [was the worst cheerleading injury I ever suffered." My fingers got caught on the mat and they all broke."
Despite the injuries "The Ninja Princess" suffered during cheerleading practices, she has no regrets. Gaza says the mental toughness she has inside the cage is the direct result of her years as a cheerleader.
"As a cheerleader, especially during tumbling, you have to have your mind right at all times," Gaza said. "You had to always focus and I feel like that helped me out a lot."
Unfortunately for all the male MMA fans out there who drool over Gaza day and night, she says her stint as a cheerleader did not help her flexibility.
"I'm probably the least flexible person in the world," Gaza laughed.
Female MMA fighters who laugh at the thought that cheerleading has anything to do with MMA training need to look no further than Wray's recent fights to see the damage she is able to inflict from high kicks, which she developed from years of cheerleading practice.