AX Fighting Championships titleholder Miranda Granger is set to face Kaila Thompson at Combat Games’ Supreme Showdown 2 this weekend at the Tulalip Resort & Casino in what is sure to be a fast-paced war between two of the Pacific Northwest’s best amateur flyweights.
“Danger” Granger spoke with AllianceMMA.com about her matchup vs. Thompson, her local stardom, the growth of Women’s MMA, and her strong relationship with her camp, Charlie’s Combat Club.
A martial arts student since the early age of four, Granger began her training with Tae Kwon Do. She reached the level of blackbelt by age 12 and was a clear standout. From there, Granger’s fight career was halted by things like school and traditional team sports. Granger did not stray away from her true passion for too long however. She eventually returned to her coach, former professional fighter Charlie Pearson, to learn the art of kickboxing. Ever since, Granger’s love for martial arts has blossomed into an impressive record of 9-0 as she has been alternating between kickboxing and MMA. Her success in both sports has been exceptional thus far. Just don’t ask her to pick between the two.
“Honestly, I don’t know which I like better. It’s hard to choose. I like MMA in the sense that I can use everything. I can kind of be a little meaner and sort of grind down my opponents. With kickboxing I can use the techniques and little mind games that you can play and that’s pretty fun. I’ve actually been switching back and forth. I’m just trying to keep everything fresh so I’m firing on all cylinders. So, I don’t know if I have a favorite. I just like fighting.
I’d like to compete in both as long as I can. Obviously if one of those sports opens up a door that’s much bigger than the other that’s maybe the route I would take. But I’m not closing any doors on either sport for sure. I think that Women’s MMA in general is just growing constantly. I think I’m getting into this at the right time, and there are just a lot of opportunities to be had. I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way.”
In combat sports, you have to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready, and that’s how Granger is approaching her career thus far.
She is correct when she speaks on the growth of WMMA in recent years. Ever since Ronda Rousey took over the MMA world in 2011, WMMA has gone from small niche sport to a main stream competition. According to Kevin Iole from Yahoo Sports, “The three UFC cards on Fox Sports 1 that have been headlined by women averaged 1.065 million viewers, which is 21 percent higher than the average of UFC cards on FS1 headlined by men.”
It seems as though fans truly enjoy WMMA contests, perhaps more so than the battles between men. There have been several influential athletes in Women’s combat sports that have driven the increase in popularity. Granger says the fighter she looks up to the most is one of the combatants in this past weekend’s inaugural featherweight championship at UFC 208.
“My favorite fighter that’s kind of in the limelight right now would be Holly Holm. I’ve been following her since I was a little kid ever since she started boxing. She has been such a great role model for me not just inside of the cage, but also with the way she handles herself outside of the cage. I’ve watched her film over and over again and there are a lot of things that I do in my fights that she also does, but at the same time I sort of have my own style too.
Another fighter I really like, especially when it comes to kickboxing is Tiffany “Timebomb” Van Soest. She just won the first GLORY kickboxing Women’s title, so she’s another fighter I like to watch and mimic. Overall just seeing all of these Women succeed in the sport I love is really empowering.”
Speaking of female empowerment, Granger’s has become sort of a brand advocate for one of her sponsors, Grrl Clothing. The sportswear clothing line has become increasingly popular lately thanks to the rise in WMMA and overall body positivity. Granger says she not only supports their message, but also loves the fact that the brand brings together some of the best fighters in the world. Fighters like Rose Namajunas, Megan Anderson, and Holly Holm have all been sporting Grrrl clothing in an effort to preach self-love.
“It’s actually really cool to be sponsored by Grrl Clothing because some of my favorite fighters are too, and it sort of gives us a cool little connection. Their message is to be unapologetically you, said Granger. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say, or what anyone else has to think about you. Be comfortable in your own skin and what you’ve been given. It’s about working hard and just staying true to yourself, and I can one-hundred percent get behind that message.”
Miranda’s support system is vast, and she insists her teammates and coaches are family. Many fighters develop that same trust and affection for those they train with, but Granger seems to take it to another level.
“I’ve known Charlie since I was born. My whole family trained under him in Tae Kwon Do, so he’s kind of just been my gym dad-like my second father basically. I’m there more than I am my own home (laughs). Sometimes I fell bad for my husband. But, I’ve grown up in that place and every single one of my teammates is like a brother and sister to me. We’re almost too close sometimes.
Lately there have been more girls who have wanted to fight ever since I started gaining recognition, so that’s awesome. It’s just been a growing, fun family. I just recently got a C3 tattoo on my arm. You have to earn that tattoo. Charlie sort of decides when you’re allowed to get it. It goes on the inside of our arm because our team believes we rise together and we fall together and when we’re getting our hands raised, C3 is being raised with us. I wouldn’t be here without them. They don’t treat me like a girl in there either. Some of the guys still throw me around. I think it’s just a great environment and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
After my world title fight at Evans Community College I had so much support. It’s sound so stupid, but I guess I’m sort of like a local celebrity (laughs). I feel so silly saying that. There are people from high school, my parents’ friends, the kids, it’s just brought so many people together and I just love it. There are so many different people from different backgrounds and ages that come together for the same reason. I call them my “Danger Nation,” and having all of them support me no matter where I go has been huge. They all want me to succeed and it gives me an extra purpose of not just doing it for myself, but for them as well.”
All fighters need to feel as though they are competing for more than their own goals, and it sounds like Granger has quite the crowd behind her. Surely some of that “Danger Nation” will be present at the Tulalip Resort & Casino on Friday Night.
Granger was asked about how she feels she matches up with her opponent Kaila Thompson, and while she is confident, Granger states that she won’t taking Thompson lightly as she gets ready for this weekend.
“I don’t know too much about her. I’ve obviously watched some film and looked up some things as well. I definitely think she is a great opponent and I think we matchup really well against each other. I wouldn’t say I’m looking to expose her or anything. I’m sure it will be a war. She has a pretty strong ground game from what I saw and I think I do too. I’ve submitted a lot of my opponents in MMA. She’s 5’7” and I’m 5’7” so I don’t think there will be much of a reach advantage. I make sure that I never underestimate anyone. You could have 20 more fights than someone and still get knocked out, so I treat every opponent the same way.”
When speaking about the future, Miranda acknowledged that at 9-0, she doesn’t have long until it’s time to make the decision to go pro. However, she is leaving that decision entirely up to her coach.
“I think me and my coaches have been trying to find the best competition possible in the amateur ranks so I can really just see where I’m at and what the next step is going to be. My last opponent was a world champion in Muay Thai over in the UK so we’re trying to take fights against the best talent possible so I can get all of the experience I need before going pro. We kind of decided that around ten fights we’d start talking, and this bout with COGA will be number ten, so I’m sure that conversation is coming soon. I trust my Charlie to know when I’m ready. I put all of my faith in him, just like all of our fighters have. He’s never steered us wrong before. I’m sure that time is coming, and I’m ready for it. I’m just leaving that up to him and I trust that he will be able to make the right decision.”
Granger has competed in several weight classes including 115, 125, and 130-pounds. Her length allows her to float comfortably in between weight classes while also cutting the necessary weight without issue. When asked where she feels most comfortable, Granger says she wants the size advantage.
“I like 115. It was my first time cutting down to that weight in my last fight and a coach of mine, Sally Krumdiak, helped me with my nutrition and helped me get my weight down all while making sure I was doing it in a healthy way. I never felt fatigued, or sore. I think I’d consider myself a big 115-er and I like that. It gives me a bit of reach and size advantage sometimes. I put weight on really easily after cutting too. Honestly though, I just want to fight. I’ll take a bout at any weight class. If the UFC called me right now and said we have a 135 fight for you I’d take that right now.”
Granger’s willingness to accept fights with no questions asked should serve her well down the line should she ever make it to the big show. The UFC loves fighters that are looking to throw down no matter what.
An undefeated record, a cool nickname, a strong following-Miranda Granger has it all. She is the total package, and that’s why she is one of Alliance MMA’s fastest rising stars.
To watch Miranda’s bout vs. Kaila Thompson at Combat Games’ Supreme Showdown 2, you can order ticket by clicking the link below.