She was born in High Point, NC but I currently live right outside of Charlotte, NC. She was always an outdoorsy child, but the only sport she played was soccer, which began in middle school. In my early 20s, she had a friend who boxed and got me interested in the sport. She tried it out but really didn’t have the dedication for it at the time. Fast forward a couple years and she found myself in an MMA gym really just wanting to start a hobby… less than 5 years after that, she was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and she was stepping into a cage making my professional debut at atom weight.
Q&A Session Between Nicole Hunt and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: BJJ and MMA are very special sports. With BJJ you learn that you do not have to be the bigger, stronger opponent to win a roll if you work hard on your technique. With MMA you will find that the most athletic or talented person does not always win. In fact, you can be very mediocre at everything and still run through a division. Everyone has probably heard the saying “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” - I feel this statement definitely applies in these sports. Also, because both of these sports contain a variety of styles within themselves and inspiration from other sports, it creates very interesting outcomes in some matches you would not expect to go a certain way. I’ve heard my coach tell me a million times that styles make fights, it couldn’t be truer in MMA or BJJ. It keeps it very interesting.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: This year I am looking to get to the next level, and get signed with a major promotion. I also want to compete at the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds competition. Within the next 3 years I am hoping to see UFC add the atom weight division, so that I can be added to that roster and work towards becoming champion. In five years, depending on how my MMA career is going, I may start to slow down on fighting and put more focus into my BJJ and work hard towards finishing my journey to black belt.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: I am inspired by women like Lucia Rijker, Ronda Rousey, and Helen Maroulis – who have had the guts and determination to step into male dominated sports, and train at gyms where they were probably the only female and manage to stick it out and make a name for themselves, and pave the way for other women to do the same.
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
Answer: I am most proud of my BJJ progress, since I made it to purple belt in about 3 years’ time. I have won countless medals from white-purple at various BJJ tournaments in that time as well. I still have a lot of work to do with my jiu-jitsu, but I have made a mountain of progress in a short time. In my MMA career, I went 5-1 as an amateur, and so far I am 1-0 as a professional.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days
Answer: It really depends on the day… on gi days, it’s just a gi/belt, mouthpiece, and a bottle of water (and of course a change of clothes for after!). On other days, it might be boxing gloves, headgear, shin guards, mouthpiece, wrestling shoes, hand wraps, jump rope, running shoes, and lots of water!
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: In the gym, my training partners would definitely say I’m an armbar queen… but in competition I am very position conscious. I like to play top and I won’t go for any risky finishes that would potentially lose my position. In MMA, I am always looking for a TKO.
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I have been training in MMA for 5 years, and doing BJJ in a gi for about 4 years.
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: During non-competitions times, I train about 3-4x a week. If I have a fight coming up, I do 6x a week, with early morning cardio added in.
Question: What are the essential things for the training?
Answer: Commitment, Hard work and focus.
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: As I stated before, hard work is the name of the game. MMA and BJJ aren’t rocket science… if you’re dedicated, show up, put the work in, and you can walk and chew gum at the same time - you will get much further than the average person. Unfortunately, most people want some magic short cut. There is no short cut for hard work. It takes a lot of sacrifice to become a champion.