Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey is one of the most aggressive strawweight fighters in UFC today. Holding a record of 6-4, with all being finish victories, the BJJ expert has walked through the likes of Randa Markos, Helen Harper and Cristina Stanciu. With a UFC career of five fights, Casey has managed to rack up three fight-night bonuses including two “Fight of the Night” awards for her wars against Joanne Calderwood and Seo Hee Ham, and one “Performance of the Night” bonus for finishing Cristina Stanciu in round 1.
Casey is one of the most fearless female fighters in UFC. The fact that she agreed to face No. 1 ranked strawweight and female pound-for-pound contender, Claudia Gadelha, does justice to my claim, as most female fighters, including former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza, have backed off from the BJJ black belt.
What got you into MMA?
I did martial arts when I was kid, but I also played soccer. I had to make a choice between them and I chose soccer. I went on to play D1 soccer and semi pro soccer, before suffering an injury that put a hold on my career. During that time I picked up BJJ and three months after that did my first BJJ tournament and three months after that I took my first fight.
Who was your influence?
Gosh that’s hard I grew up watching martial arts movies and boxing so Jean Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Ali, Tyson, Chavez.
What is your combat sport background?
I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt.
Did people around you support the decision of taking this sport as a career?
I never really had anyone say I shouldn’t do MMA, but it wasn’t till 2014 that I quit working and trained and taught classes full time.
Who would you like to credit for your success?
My husband and Coach Eddie Sanchez, my family, friends and teammates, all my sponsors along the way and myself.
What challenge have you faced in your journey?
Too many to even start. It hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but it’s been worth it and that’s really all that matters.
What is the most difficult part about being a fighter?
I would have to say the waiting is the most difficult part. The time in between fights and not knowing when exactly the next fight will be. It’s hard to prepare your body for the unknown.
What motivates you to move forward?
All the people who support me. And knowing that I can learn something new every day.
What is the story behind your nickname?
It was given to me by one of my teammates at my first gym. I was the smallest person in the gym by at least 30-pounds and the only girl and when we would spar I would get beat up, but would always be ready for the next round. He said I was like a cast iron skillet, tough and durable and hard to break.
One of the most discussed topics today is fighter pay. What is your stand on the situation?
Of course you always want get paid for what you do, but we signed the contract so we know what we are getting paid and for how long. You can always negotiate, but at the end of the day we signed the contract. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it doesn’t.
What are your thoughts on fighter union?
Right now I really don’t have to many thoughts on it at the time.
What are your thoughts on the creation of a women featherweight division?
I think the more divisions the better, but I think the flyweight division makes the most sense right now.
What weight class would you want to see in the UFC and why?
I think women’s 125, and 105 should be added, because they have already proven to have great fighters and a depth in the division as well.
Your last fight saw a controversy as Claudia Gadelha accidentally kicked you in the head while you were on ground. Can you explain the situation?
I scooted in to grab her leg she turned around and kicked me in the head.
What were your thoughts on the aftermath?
I definitely don’t think it was handled the right way or even in a neutral matter, it was pretty one-sided.
Fellow UFC fighter and current world champion Tyron Woodley made some comments on the fight, any reaction?
When the incident first happened I said something along the lines that I expected different from a fellow fighter but looking back I realize there are two types of competitors in the UFC; there are “martial artists” and there are “fighters”. Martial artists follow a certain ethics. Since then Woodley has said something along the lines that mixed martial arts is racist but in my Academy we are all equal and this is not my opinion but is fact that in martial arts technique and skill reign supreme no matter gender or race. Maybe he meant the UFC is racist but I see him being used as an analyst where he obviously gets to state his opinion, if the UFC had an agenda I don’t think they would give him the opportunity. I think he just likes to say outrageous things to stay relevant. He got bit by the entertainment bug, he so badly wants to be a Muhammad Ali figure but there is one Ali… and “the chosen one”. In my opinion, accomplished “fighter”? yes… People’s champ? No.
You’re known for finishing your opponents. What is your game plan while getting in the cage?
My game plan has always been to work on my weaknesses and to capitalize on there’s. My coaches watch a lot of film and come up with the game plan, my job is to execute it.
You are known for fighting and moving forward. You have won two “fight of the night” honors. Any reason for this style?
I like to set the pace of the fight, I’m also there to finish fights and put on a show for the fans and I think my style allows me to do that.
What are your next plans?
My plans are to just keep being me and keep training and getting better everyday.
When do you think you’ll get your next fight?
Not really sure, but I hope it’s soon cause I’m ready to get in there.
What is your message for every person who wants to take MMA as a career?
Prepare for sacrifice.
Follow Cortney on Twitter at @CastIron_Casey.