From A&T to DWCS: An Interview with Hailey Cowan

Texan Bantamweight Hailey Cowan is no stranger to success; indeed, when it comes to sport, “All Hail” is all in.

However, the journey to participant on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) this August is unique in origin; for Hailey Cowan, MMA would only follow after an entirely different sporting career.

Originally, Cowan pursued gymnastics, achieving a multitude of state-level successes throughout the years.

Such success welcomed a four-year pioneering opportunity with Baylor University’s Acrobatics and Tumbling (A&T) team; during this time, Cowan found national-level success as a two time All-American Athlete for the University.

Whilst an interest in MMA had always been there, it was only following graduation from Baylor University that Cowan would first trial MMA; needless to say, MMA stuck.

After a successful 3-0 amateur MMA career that included winning the vacant American Kombat Alliance Flyweight Championship, Cowan made her professional debut May 25th 2018, at Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) 40.

Despite losing her professional debut to Victoria Leonardo, Cowan quickly found success as a professional, establishing a five fight win-streak in under 2 years; this included victories over Sha Whittington at LFA 52, Jessica Sotack at LFA 55, Sarah Click at LFA 63, Jessica Middleton at LFA 73, and Brittney Cloudy at LFA 83.

Although her win-streak ended with a loss to Kelly Clayton at LFA 91, Cowan’s following, and most recent, bout welcomed a dominant performance over then undefeated Monica Franco at Invicta FC 45.

In the post-fight interview following her win at Invicta FC 45, Cowan called for an opportunity to fight at UFC 271. Whilst it didn’t come to fruition, an opportunity to join the UFC is now potentially just one performance away, following the confirmation that Cowan will matchup with Cláudia Leite August 16th on DWCS.

Ahead of her huge opportunity, Cowan spoke to Danny Jones of MMA UK:

Hailey, congratulations on your deserved opportunity with Dana White’s Contender Series. After a dominant performance over Monica Franco at Invicta FC 45, you mentioned you would love the opportunity to fight at UFC 271. What is it specifically that made you realise that you are now ready to progress to the next level, and start fighting for an opportunity to sign with the UFC?

“Over the last year and a half, I’ve spent time developing my style as a fighter. I needed to know that I am capable of implementing that style successfully! After the fight with Monica, I knew I was ready to up the competition and move forward in my career!”.

You have a long history with Gymnastics, finding success at the state-level, and have a decorated Acrobatics and Tumbling tenure at Baylor University, finding success at the national-level. What would you say has been the most transferable skill from these experiences to your MMA career?

“Obviously the physicality has been helpful: the strength, the balance, the coordination. But even more so than that— DISCIPLINE! I had to be extremely disciplined as a gymnast and I know a lot of fighters struggle with that. I’m glad I was able to learn how to be disciplined at a young age— it makes this life much easier”.

You’ve been an athletic competitor since a very young age. What was the inspiration to commit to such an athletic lifestyle, and pursue a career in sport?

“I come from a long line of great athletes. I started gymnastics at a very young age and I loved it. I love competing and have been gifted with athletic ability! So sports just made sense… and winning is fun! Haha”.

You’ve secured some spectacular finishes in your professional MMA career, namely a tremendous head kick knockout of Jessica Sotack at LFA 55, and a rear naked choke of then undefeated Monica Franco at Invicta FC 45. What has been your personal favourite performance of your MMA career?

“My favorite performance is probably one of my worst. When I fought Brittney Cloudy, I had a horrible knee injury 2 weeks before the fight (I ended up having to have surgery later on). I suffered a torn meniscus, torn LCL [lateral collateral ligament] and an avulsion fracture. I was able to compete and win, despite the circumstance. I couldn’t utilize my left leg and was forced to figure it out. I did, and even though I didn’t look like myself in there— I’m proud of what I was able to do. I was in a ton of pain, but it was worth it”.

You are set to matchup with Brazilian Bantamweight Cláudia Leite on DWCS. Any thoughts on the matchup, or your opponent?

“YES! I LOVE THIS MATCH UP! I actually have been asking to fight Cláudia Leite for over a year with LFA and then I asked for her with Invicta as well. I’ve wanted this match up and I got it! It’s a great opportunity for me to show the development of my skill-set”.

What was the inspiration behind your nickname, “All Hail”?

“My coach gave me that nickname the day I walked into the gym! It just stuck haha”.

Lastly, any messages to fight fans new to Hailey Cowan?

“Heck yeah! This ride is going to be a good one! Stay tuned— join team All Hail and let’s ride this one out together. We’ve got some sick dreams to achieve!”.

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