Kelly Kobald is preparing herself for the biggest fight of her career. A fight that in many people’s opinion would never have happened had she won her last two fights. On October 4th, Kobold will face poster-girl for female mixed martial arts, Gina Carano, on the main card of EliteXC’s CBS Saturday Night Fights.
Kelly went on a tear through female mma going undefeated in her career until problems on the homefront caused inevitable distractions that played into her fist two defeats. With all the drama long behind her, Kelly has had a year to refocus on her career and looks to make all of those that expect Gina to walk through her some very unhappy campers.
PRO MMA had a chance to catch up with Kelly and talk with her about how she feels she matches up with Gina, being the underdog, and shocking the world.
PRO MMA: Hey Kelly, Thanks for taking this time with us we know you’re really busy preparing for your fight with Gina Carano. How are you feeling right now physically? Are you injury free for this fight?
Kelly: I am injury free for this fight. I’m really, really excited. I think this has to be the first fight I’ve ever had where I didn’t have something go wrong in a training camp where I just had a flood of doubts as to whether or not I could actually do the fight so I feel great about this training camp.
PRO MMA: How’s training been going down at Team Bison?
Kelly: It’s wonderful. It’s really home for me as far as training goes. I’ve got great teammates there, you know, great friends that genuinely care about my progress as a fighter. It’s not just me going out to fight, you know, it’s them, they’re in there with me because they’ve trained so hard with me to prepare me for it.
PRO MMA: I know you normally train with a bunch of guys that are a lot bigger than you but have you brought any females down to help prepare you for this fight?
Kelly: There have been a couple females down here at Team Bison and then when I go down to Minnesota Mixed Artial Arts Academy a couple days a week there’s a bunch of girls down there as well.
PRO MMA: What are your thoughts on Gina and how do you feel you ladies match up?
Kelly: I think we match up just fine. I’m a well rounded opponent that’s good on the ground and on the feet so I think it’s going to be an exciting fight no matter what. She’s definitely a tough fighter and it won’t be an easy fight for either of us so I think we’re going to have one of the best fights of the night.
PRO MMA: It seems like you will definitely be the biggest, strongest and most experienced opponent that Gina has faced in her career. Would you agree with this?
Kelly: Oh definitely I would agree with that. You know with her new diet and nutritionist and everything she’s been following to make weight for this fight, I might just end up being the bigger of the two.
PRO MMA: Weight has long been an issue for Gina. How’s your weight coming along?
Kelly: Well I’ve definitely had some fights where you don’t even have to weigh in; sort of underground warehouse type things where it’s like “We’ve got two women here, now go fight.” But for the majority of my fights I’ve had to weigh in and I’ve never missed weight before so it won’t be an issue for me. I’m incredibly professional and I feel like making weight is very, very important otherwise there wouldn’t be weight classes.
PRO MMA: What will your game plan be with Carano? Will you be looking to trade with her, take the action to the mat or just go with the flow?
Kelly: I’m just going to impose my will. I’m just going to go out there and play off of how she reacts to what I do. It’s just about being one step ahead of your opponent. I definitely intend to push the pace of the fight.
Pro Mma: I heard you have been studying Gina’s fight tapes quite a bit. Have you noticed any mistakes in her game that you feel you will be able to capitalize on and do you feel she will be at a disadvantage because of a lack of footage on yourself?
Kelly: It’s definitely hard to make plans based on my fight tapes. There are some out there but I fought for so long, had such a variety of opponents and weight classes, you know I’ve fought as low as 135 and as high as 180 pounds pounds so I think it’s very difficult to study tape on me. I’ve never fought the same way twice and I’ve never had two fights where you would have thought I was the same fighter in each one. You know I’ve been fortunate that there’s a lot of tape out there on Gina and even one fight where it was primarily on the ground. So you notice mistakes but everyone makes mistakes when they’re fighting so you can’t focus on the mistakes you have to focus on what they do well. So we definitely have a bunch of footage on Gina and she does some really great stuff so it’s more noticing what she does well as opposed to capitalizing on a certain mistake.
PRO MMA: A lot has been made about the potential Carano/Cyborg fight. Do you feel like Gina may be looking past you just a little bit?
Kelly: I hope so (laughter) I definitely hope so. It’s going to be a mistake to look past me as a fighter.
PRO MMA: Now I know you were dealing with a lot of personal problems during the time that you lost to Kedzie and Larosa. Have you had enough time to properly clear your head from all the crap that comes with that kind of stuff and focus on the task at hand, which is training for and defeating Gina Carano?
Kelly: Absolutely I have. I’m a year removed now from any personal drama I had last summer and I’ve had a year to basically get my life together and now I’m in a very comfortable, happy place that is very conducive to mixed martial arts training.
PRO MMA: Being that you are coming off of two losses, do you feel like a lot of people are underestimating you in this fight?
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely I do and honestly I don’t think I would be here facing Gina if I hadn’t lost my last two. I definitely think people are expecting me to come out and lose, you know, put up a good fight but they’re expecting Gina to win and I’m OK with that.
PRO MMA: So it’s been a year now since you’ve fought. Do you think the layoff is going to help you or hurt you?
Kelly: I think it’s definitely going to help me. I’ve had a very relaxing year where I’ve been able to go into the gym, learn some new techniques and just have fun with grappling again and have fun with sparring and training again. You know, if you push it too hard you can forget why you started to do it. I’ve just spent the last year really enjoying what it is that I have chosen to do which is fighting. I’m very comfortable with my skills that I have right now and my skill set and I have this last year to thank for it.
PRO MMA: You’re not exactly known as a boring fighter and at the same time, neither is Gina. More than once on EliteXC the female bouts on the undercard have stolen the show. Do you think this is another one of those fights that has the potential to grab a lot of people that aren’t that familiar with female mma and force them to pay attention to what you ladies are doing in the world of mixed martial arts?
Kelly: Definitely. I think this is going to be one of the best fights of the night if not the best fight of the night.
PRO MMA: Thanks for your time Kelly, are there any sponsors you’d like to thank?
Kelly: Oh definitely, I want to thank MMA Overload, Island Supplements, Big Black Security, Fight Chicks, Athletic Performance Institutes and I want to thank all of my family here at Team Bison and all of my training partners in Minnesota.
PRO MMA: Alright Kelly, take care and good luck on your fight!
Kelly: Thanks very much!