Interview: Colleen Schneider talks about Bellator 182, brain damage in MMA, fighting Yankova, and more
Exclusive interview with Bellator MMA flyweight, Colleen Schneider
With the retirement of WMMA stalwarts such as Miesha Tate and Julie Kedzie, we now have a new, younger breed of fighters. However, Colleen “Super Collider” Schneider remains as one of the last remnants of women who helped in popularising -- and pushing for women to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts in the sport.
The Strikeforce and Invicta veteran made her Bellator debut back in January, and will enter the cage this weekend at Bellator 182. Colleen will face yet another seasoned fighter in Kate Jackson, who took part in the 23rd season of TUF, where she lost to Tatiana Suarez in the semifinals.
I caught up with the inaugural SFL American Women’s bantamweight champion to discuss a wide range of topics - from her fighting on the prelims card, to the dangers of brain damage in MMA and fighting the Russian sensation, Anastasia Yankova.
You came to Bellator MMA with a lot of momentum and made quick work of your first opponent. You broke the news to us the last time we talked that there was a change of opponent. How did that impact you going into the fight?
Colleen: It was a little bit crazy; we went back and forth regarding my opponent at the last minute. I did not know if I would end up getting an opponent at all.
The opponent changed a number of times in the last few weeks, and there were a number of points where we didn’t have anyone at all. So I was trying to stay mentally focused on what I needed to do, regardless of who was going to be in the cage with me.
I just went in there (in the final few weeks) positive that I would get the fight. And when it happened and I finally got an opponent, I was just really happy that I was able to fight. I wanted to just go out there and make quick work of her. I wanted to go out there and finish that fight.
Your opponent for your upcoming fight has built a winning streak over the past couple of years. Kate has good technical striking, but has shown some vulnerability while being pushed back. What is your take on your opponent?
Colleen: I think she’s a better grappler than she is a striker certainly. I think her strong suit is her top control on the ground, and her ground and pound.
I am going to test myself against that. I’m actually happy; I’m happy to test myself against an opponent I consider to be a good grappler, because a big focus of my development as a fighter over the last year, is my submission (game) in MMA.
So I’m happy to go test that against someone who is a good grappler.
With your extensive background in wrestling, and taking some inputs from Kate's previous loss to Tatiana, do you think that would be an aspect of her game that you’d look to exploit?
Colleen: Yes; she’s very good on the ground when she’s on top. She’s not as good when someone else is the aggressor and she’s put on her back. In general, I want to use my grappling, my jiu-jitsu, and work on my submission game in MMA.
Because that’s… I’ve had a ton of fun over the last year, because I’ve grown comfortable, and am more confident in my submission game.
I look forward to going out there and using that during the fight.
One of the biggest questions after your last fight, was regarding you fighting on the prelims card on Spike TV. You're on the prelims card of Bellator 182. Given your experience and pedigree, what do you make of your place on the card?
Colleen: I think it’s funny that Kate and I are on the prelims but Bruna (Ellen) and Veta (Arteaga) are on the main card, when we both -- I think either one of us has more fights than two of them combined. But, it’s not my choice. My job is to go out there and fight, so I’m going to go out there and fight.
You’re 35 years old, and fought at 135 lbs before. How difficult is it for you to cut down to 125?
Colleen: It’s hard; it’s a big cut for me. I don’t love doing it, but I’ve done a lot -- it’s actually easier in this camp than the last camp. I’m a bit lower (in weight) than I was for the fight in January. But cutting weight is never fun, you know?
And I’m certainly open to fighting at 135 again if the opportunity presents itself, or if Bellator decides to open up more divisions.
But for now, I’m good at 125 and that’s what I will be fighting at in a week.
You’re one of the veterans in women’s MMA, and given that you’re 35 now, how long do you see yourself fighting?
Colleen: I’m not giving myself a hard stop on it. My body feels great, honestly. I feel like I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, I feel like I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. And I’m still growing as a fighter. My biggest concern to stop is not about my age, but my mental health - brain damage or concussive damage.
That’s the thing that I’m very aware of -- that everyone should be aware of. So that’s the biggest thing for me, in terms of longevity in the sport.
That is a very serious discussion that needs to happen. Is there a specific reason you’re bringing it up now?
Colleen: Well, there’s nothing with me. There’s a ton of research that’s been going on in the US lately, about combat athletes, football players and other high impact athletes. The brain damage and the long term effects of that is a very real and serious thing, but people -- that is something people should be aware of.
One of the breakout stars in Bellator MMA happens to be Anatasia Yankova. Considering she is fighting in the flyweight division as well, what do you make of a showdown with her?
Colleen: I think she’s fun to watch, I think she’s scrappy. I mean, I think I could finish her in good two minutes; I don’t think she would want to fight me because she would get beat.
Lastly, given the explosion of MMA in India, and this is a question I even asked Josh Barnett -- what do you think about coming down to India for a seminar?
Colleen: I would love to. I would absolutely love to go back to India. When I’m not in a fight camp, I ideally like to eat as much food as I want, and I love the food there. But I had great experiences there, and I would love to come back.