Summer Onley (7-1-0) is an English amateur Mixed Martial Artist currently competing in the Featherweight division, representing Gracie Barra Derby. She has competed for Almighty Fighting Championships, Battle Arena, the EMMAA Four Nations and IMMAF.
I’d like to start things off by thanking you for taking the time to speak with me today Summer, and also to congratulate you on your recent inclusion to the IMMAF European Championships.
“Thank you very much.”
You’re very welcome.
Now back in the UK after the memorable moments that no doubt will always hold many memories, how has training been going since your return from Italy?
“I’ve kinda been on a two week holiday to Cyprus right after Italy, so I’ve not been training that much hahaha. I went back to training earlier this week, I think Monday night was my first session back. Having two weeks off definitely has some effect on your cardio, it was a really tough session with wrestling, a big wake up call. So I’m just getting back to training, I’m training everyday now, it will be back to normal soon training up to three times a day. Just getting back to reality really now.”
Great to hear mate, it can be testing going back.
How did it feel to bring your prolific arsenal to the biggest stage on the amateur scene?
“It was a wicked experience, team England were massively supportive to everyone fighting. The vibes were really cool, everyone was cheering everyone else on, it was such a cool experience. I was very nervous as I’ve never been in that kind of format before, fighting in a different country is all new to me so it was really cool, but I wish I enjoyed it a bit more. I think I was a bit more nervous than I would’ve liked to have been, I was fighting at the end of the week, watching other people from the start of the week, maybe made me more nervous. Maybe it would have been better if I had fought a little bit earlier in the week. But the whole experience was amazing. Looking back on it now, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, it was wicked. So hopefully I get another chance to participate in a similar kind of format in the future really.”
Definitely, I was hoping to see you participate in the IMMAF‘s, thoroughly deserved in my opinion.
Looking forward to the MMA calendar year, could we possibly see you competing on the IMMAF stage?
“Yeah, definitely. I think the World’s are gonna be next year. I don’t think anything has been confirmed as of yet, but definitely be great to be picked. My coach wants me to do it, as I’m not too sure what’s next for me. A lot of people were speculating that I’d be going pro, but I think the more amateur experience I get, the better. On The world stage as well, I’m gonna be fighting world class athletes as well. The level of amateur’s at the IMMAF’s was just incredible, it’s basically watching pro fighters. It definitely feels like I’m fighting at pro level because of the girls that are in my category and even watching the men fight was just crazy. If I get to do that on a world stage, that would be amazing, I definitely would be interested in representing England again for sure.”
I have to agree, the accumulated cage time from you guys is just immense, must definitely feel like fighting professionally out there.
Widely known as one of the best amateurs the UK has to offer, teaming up with the EMMAA is great news for the UK to have such a prolific practitioner to bring even more success to English shores.
What advice would you give to aspiring amateurs looking to get involved with the exceptional work of the English Mixed Martial Arts Association?
“My advice would be to definitely go train with them and show up, Even when you’re having one of your bad days and not really feeling to train you know. We’ve all been there, you’re feeling a bit lazy or you’ve got a niggling injury. Even just going to watch the sessions definitely, to take it a bit more seriously. And definitely try to do as many competitions as you can. If you started out practising BJJ or Muay-Thai, try and get as many in as possible. I’m really thankful that I did Jiu-jitsu comps before I did MMA, just because it kinda gets you prepared mentally for what you’re in for. MMA is slightly different because you will get punched in the face haha. I used to get so nervous for Jiu-jitsu competitions, but once I got past that I think I competed in them for the next two or three years. So when it came to competing at MMA level, it kinda took the nerves out from the start. Maybe go to seminars, start connecting with people, especially for the women. I think there’s only two or three other women at the gym where I train, not as often as I do. I think if you can get in touch with other females around your area to get some sparring in, or just some drilling, I’d definitely recommend that. So just try to gain as much experience and mat time as you can.
I completely agree with you there, comps are quite intense and full experience quality’s.
“They’re kinda similar to IMMAF, because you’re fighting everyday and it’s a knockout format as well. So I think doing Jiu-jitsu competitions is a massive boost if you’re gonna get into MMA, it gets you used to that kind of format for sure.
As previously stated, your amateur career thus far has cemented you as one of the most dangerous practitioners in the UK, holding a 7-1 record spanning across 2 regional shows as well as the EMMAA Four Nations and most recently the IMMAF‘s.
When venturing into the brutal yet exhilarating world of Mixed Martial Arts, was there a role model for you that inspired you to start your own Mixed Martial Arts journey?
“The first female fighter I probably watched was Joanna Jenjechek, she absolutely mauled her opponent. I can’t for the life of me remember who she was fighting at the time. I wasn’t really interested in doing the striking side of things, obviously that’s what Joanna is good at. I watched the rest of the card and thought I’d like to do the groundwork, so when I moved to Derby in 2017 I thought I definitely wanna start doing BJJ, I wanna do the groundwork. They did some MMA classes and that’s kinda how I got into it. I never really thought I’d be a cage fighter, I thought I’d just do Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, maybe get to a really high level in that, Because that was my absolute favourite thing to do at the gym. But when I started watching a bit more of the UFC, you got people like, probably one of the biggest ones out of the UK Molly McCann. She’s gone from amateur ranks here, on to Cage Warriors and won the belt there and then to the UFC. Your normal girl down the street that can make it into the UFC, becoming a massive superstar after those two KO’s, it’s an amazing story. I think she’s one of the biggest inspirations for the girls in the UK at the moment. Most of the The women I watch in the UFC are inspirational, Valentina Shevchenko is another, she’s just amazing everywhere. No matter where the fight goes she’s got an answer to everything. Joanna Jenjechek definitely grabbed my attention, but after getting more into it Molly McCann is definitely up there. I’ve met her a few times, I think she commented on my first fight, I met her after and it was crazy, I was like oh shit your in the UFC, I’m talking to someone that’s like proper high level there. We had an EMMAA session earlier on in the year and she was at the training session, I got the chance to speak to her there too. I hope she realises how much she inspires a lot of girls coming up through the ranks, because she definitely has for me.”
That must have been an amazing experience, she’s one of my dream fighters to meet.
“She’s funny as well, she’s very mint as well.”
With the 2022 MMA calendar approaching an end, what can fight fans come to expect as you look forward to future possibilities, have you got anything on your radar?
“I was looking to get back out there before the years out if I’m honest, I don’t want end my mybyewr on a loss so I was like get me back in there hahaha. But if I don’t fight at the end of the year, hopefully next year. Hopefully maybe defend a belt on one of the shows, that would be cool, then maybe do the world’s. After that, I’ve definitely got to look at making my pro debut, but it’s definitely worth getting more amateur experience. After the world’s I’ll hopefully be looking to go into the pro’s, because I think it will be about time.”
You’ll be a fine addition honestly.
It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today Summer, I’m a big fan of yours it’s been an honour and I wish you all the best with your future endeavours in the cage.
“Thank you, thank you for having me. This has been pretty relaxed actually, I was a bit nervous for it but it’s been a nice chat.”
My pleasure Summer, it’s been great speaking with you too.
Last but not least, do you have a message for the readers and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“I’d like to give a Shout-out to my sponsors, Langley Agriculture, who have sponsored me since July. They’re honestly amazing, they’re probably the only reason I got to the IMMAF’s and participated in the Four Nations. They’re funding me for a year, so big shout-out to them. Also Mike, my Osteopath who also sponsors me, really looks after me. I go see him every week and he makes sure I’m in tip top form, can’t thank him enough for sponsoring me as well. A big shout-out to my gym Gracie Barra Derby, we’re a very small gym but we’re coming through the ranks now, people are starting to take notice of us. It’s proper exciting, we only had a few fighters four or five years ago, we have champions coming out of our gym now. Thank you to all my training partners and my head coach Patrick Martin. I’ve said it in a big post about the Euro’s but I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without my training partners and head coach. And a big shout-out toy friends and family and everyone that has supported me so far.”