One of the UK’s fastest rising amateur female MMA fighters, Joanne Doyle, is looking to add to her recent IMMAF European title win when she squares off against Louise Hiller (3-1) on Saturday at the O2 Academy, Leeds, where the two fighters will battle it out to go down in history as Almighty Fighting Championship’s first ever women’s bantamweight champion.
Doyle, fighting out of Team Fulinkazan MMA in Bradford, has made a huge impact since bursting onto the amateur scene only a year ago, racking up an impressive undefeated record of 6-0, and even winning the IMMAF European Championship just six months after making her amateur debut.
The 30 year old Bradford brawler, who is also a decorated BJJ player, is a real talent with huge potential according to her coaches – but then that comes as no surprise as Joanne is married to the sport, quite literally.
Doyle said: “I actually came into the sport with no martial arts background at all, I only found out about MMA when I started a new job as one of my colleagues was fighting on a local show and we all went along to support him. That show was where I met James, he was still active as a fighter back then and we started talking about MMA and training. A few years later he is now my husband and one of my coaches at Fulinkazan.
“At first I just enjoyed watching the sport and would go to events to watch James and his teammates but then a few years ago I decided I might as well give it a go. So I started doing MMA classes but it was the ground work side of the sport really clicked with me, I fell in love with BJJ”.
It was Joanne’s phenomenal success on the BJJ mat, winning an astonishing 20 gold and 4 silver medals in only a year’s worth of competition, that really galvanised her transition (pardon the pun) into the MMA cage. She said: “I am a really, really competitive person and when I started competing in BJJ tournaments and enjoying such success, I realised that competition was where I performed best.
“I wanted to compete in MMA but I did a year of back to back BJJ comps to get confidence. I then worked hard on my striking before I moved to competing in the cage”.
“The past year or so has been brilliant but it’s not been easy getting fights; I have had a lot of girls pull out on me at the last minute. That’s why I went to the IMMAF tournament. I am massively motivated by competition, but I’m not afraid of losing. I wanted to fight and test myself against the best amateurs and I knew I would definitely get a fight there”.
With that kind of mindset, it is no surprise that Joanne is relishing the prospect of fighting an athlete of Louise’s calibre for the AFC title on Saturday. She said: “I am really excited for this fight, Louise is a top fighter from a good gym and she has fought really good level opponents. That’s the type of fighter I want to test myself against.
“I have had a full fight camp which is a bonus as a lot of my fights have been short notice. Louise has a good ground game but I have plenty experience in grappling competitions.
“I’m not too worried about what she will bring to the fight as I work hard at all disciplines – I am prepared for every scenario. My aim is to go in there, be dominant, take the fight to her and give the crowd a good fight. And of course win the belt”.
Whilst Joanne has enjoyed a whirlwind start to her MMA career she is not taking anything for granted and understands that the decision to turn professional should only be made when the time is right. She said: “I actually love being an amateur fighter, sometimes people get too caught up in the urge to turn professional and get to the UFC etc, but I know I still have a lot to learn.
“I love this sport and, of course, my end goal is to turn pro and be on big shows fighting against some of the best professionals. But I’m in no rush, as long as I can keep getting good amateur fights and continue to improve then I am happy for the time being. I will turn pro when the time is right”.
Some tickets are still available for Saturday’s show at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/almighty-fighting-championships-6-leeds-09-09-2017/event/1F0052DACFD5F7F4 or you can pay at the door.