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The Road to TBA: Asel Kulmeshkenova

Asel is one of the toughest members of The Cellar Gym’s Muay Thai fight team! She is preparing to fight at 107 lbs at the 2018 TBA Classic Muay Thai Tournament this weekend but never shies away from training with partners much bigger than her! This will be Asel’s 3rd tournament and her last one competing in the C-Class division!

1. What is your weight class and current record?

Atom weight 0-2

2. How long have you been training Muay Thai?

3-4 Years. I trained at MRJJA a few years prior to joining the cellar, where I’ve trained for 3 years now

3. Have you ever competed at TBA before? If so, what has been your experience?

Yes, I competed in both summer and fall tba’s last year. It’s a huge, great learning experience no matter what the outcome.

4. How does a tournament differ from an ordinary fight?

I haven’t gone past the first round of fights. Fighting in general takes a lot out of you, you completely deplete yourself of adrenaline and you can also take a good beating. In a tournament you have to repeat that again and again, with little recovery time (especially in the huge brackets) so you have to try to play smart and stick to your strengths.

5. Why did you choose to get into Muay Thai?

I’ve always wanted to do martial arts since I was a little kid, but we couldn’t afford it. One day I went in for a kickboxing class and liked it, but I knew I wanted something more aggressive and practical. Plus cooler things to throw like elbows and knees

6. Why did you choose to get into fighting?

I never imagined that I would fight. It was just the next step in training. I trained a lot and progressed fast, I am competitive and like to challenge myself, so that was just the next step in my training.

7. Is fighting the same or different than you expected it to be?

I didn’t have expectations, I knew it was something you had to experience yourself and it is. All your senses are off and on in the ring, adrenaline rush, tunnel vision, sometimes you hear clearly, sometimes you’re in a bubble, everything is moving fast and slow. Everything is at 100% and nothing can really prepare you for it. It’s surreal.

8. What was your first fight like? If you have never fought before… what are you most looking forward to?

It was great! I learned a lot from that fight, I was able to listen to my coaches and adapt my game, it was a great first fight experience.

9. How have you grown since your first fight to now?

I have learned to listen to my body more. Before I would go 100% all the time even if it hurt, but it’s ok to take a break and heal just to prevent other injuries. I’ve also worked on broadening my strengths and working on better technique, which allows me to throw more power.

10. What would you say has been the biggest benefit to fighting?

Seeing how far you can push yourself, it’s all the discipline and work that goes into it. You have to put in a lot of sacrifice by training and cutting weight, it’s a lot of roller coasters mentally that may be filled with self doubt, second guesses, or huge confidence boosters.

11. What is your favorite part of getting ready for a fight? What is your favorite part of the actual fight?

My favorite part is making a list of all the things I want to eat afterwards! And dancing while blasting music on my headphones, while everyone else is stressed or getting into their own special fight mode. My favorite part of the fight is sealing off the ring and getting to that first punch. I don’t really pump up for a fight, I dance and relax up until I have to go in the ring and seal it. Then I let the adrenaline creep in and take over until that first punch, then it’s go time.

12. What is your least favorite part of getting ready for a fight? What is your least favorite part of the actual fight?

When a weight cut doesn’t go as planned, so then you have to scramble and suffer extra at the last minute just to make weight. Least favorite part of a fight is getting the crap beaten out of you and you have no breathing room or time to adjust. That’s what happened in the first round of my last fight, her boxing was phenomenal and she smothered me. I thought “omg I don’t want to fight anymore! Sorry chris! Sorry Ryan! Nope! This is awful!” But I kept on fighting and made a comeback the next two rounds.

13. What does a typical “fight camp” look like for you?

I try to stick to the regular fight team training and sparring. I think private pads with a coach are a huge benefit, so I’ll usually work with Ryan especially for a fight camp. Additional training or cardio is added if I need to keep my weight on track.

14. What does a typical “fight diet” look like for you?

My coach Bryan Berkland takes care of my macros. He tells me my numbers for fats, carbs, and protein, and whatever I want to eat I do, as long as it fits those numbers. And those get adjusted and reduced to cut weight. Usually I just stick to oatmeal, eggs, chicken, veggies, peanut butter, and lots of coffee.

15. How does it feel to fight alongside so many teammates?

Fantastic! It’s awesome to push each other and keep each other motivated. We’re a family, everyone takes care of each other.

16. How have your teammates and coaches helped you through this camp?

They’ve helped me by holding me accountable and keeping me motivated. This fight camp isn’t under the best circumstances by any means, but I know my teammates and coaches have my back. 17. What advice would you offer to someone who aspires to fight one day? Train hard, train often. You can’t half-ass it. Give it 100%. Stay humble. Don’t be afraid.

17. What advice would you offer to someone who aspires to fight one day?

Train hard, train often. You can’t half-ass it. Give it 100%. Stay humble. Don’t be afraid.

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