Name: Katlyn “Blonde Fighter” Chookagian
Hometown: Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Fighting out of: Kenilworth, New Jersey
Fight Organization: Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
Belts: Former CFFC Women’s Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion
It’s 11:30am on a Monday. While many are off at their 9-5 office jobs in Manhattan, UFC Women’s Bantamweight, Katlyn Chookagian, is about to start her second training of the day at the Renzo Gracie Academy in NYC, just one block away from Madison Square Garden where she faced UFC vet Liz Carmouche at the historical UFC 205 in November.
At UFC 205, Chookagian, commonly known as ‘Blonde Fighter’, picked up her first career loss to Carmouche via unanimous decision but that did not stop her from wanting to get back in the octagon as soon as possible. “insert quote about not knowing about getting the call.”
As UFC 208 in February began to form in December, Chookagian campaigned through social media to grab a spot on the Brooklyn card. Once the card was near filled, #BlondeFightertoBrooklyn turned to #BlondeFighterinBuffalo as she received a call to head up to Buffalo for UFC 210 on April 8th to face Irene Aldana.
“I think we’re both pretty similar, ,” Chookagian says of Aldana. “besides our styles we had similar hype behind us [in our first fights] we’re both tall and known for striking so I think for the style match up it will make for an exciting fight. I’m excited for it. You know everyone thinks I’m a striker but I’m also a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. I’ve competed in hundreds of jiu-jitsu tournaments and I train all the time with very high level people so I have that and the high level striking, so I think that’s my advantage.”
Chookagian will join fellow tri-state natives Shane Burgos, Gregor Gillespie and former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman on the card.
“[When they called] they had originally asked if I could fight in three weeks and I said ‘yup, I can’, that was for the card in Halifax,” Chookagian explained. “Then they gave me an opponent but she had an injury so she wasn’t going to be ready for then but we wanted to sign a fight and not just say we’ll be there. So we signed [UFC 210]. I was happy cause it’s another big card and I’m still new in the UFC so to go from 205 to 210 is a good opportunity for me.”
Prior to making her UFC debut last July at UFC Fight Night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she picked up a unanimous decision victory over Lauren Murphy, Chookagian was the Women’s Flyweight and Bantamweight champion for the Philly-based MMA promotion, Cage Fury Fighting Championships. Getting the call to the biggest MMA promotion in the world was a dream come true to the 28-year old.
“It feels good, I feel like it almost hasn’t sunk in yet, I always say that. Even after fighting at Madison Square Garden, I fought then I was done and I was watching the main event and I was like this is crazy and I was like ‘wait, I just fought there?’ It’s hard to just sink everything in. I try to think about it and not take it for granted and let it go by or take it for granted but it just doesn’t really feel real.”
Basically walking around at her fight weight, Chookagian is another female fighter to add to the growing list that are in favor of the UFC’s Women’s 125-pound flyweight division being next for the UFC. “I think the flyweight division is more needed than the featherweight division. It’s just a lot deeper. If you watch any Invicta FC card they have multiple 125-pound fights but they don’t always have 145-pounds on the card. There’s a lot of girls recently that can’t cut to 115-pounds anymore.” Some of those 115-pounders include Ultimate Fighter alumi Bec Rawlings and former title challenger Valerie Latourneau.
“I think there is a bigger pool there and a lot of different match ups, like some girls would fight at 115 and 125 or 125 and 135,” the former CFFC flyweight champion explained. “That’s my ideal weight class. My only two fights at 135 are in the UFC. I don’t have a problem there but I only walk around 4 or 5 pounds heavier than that so I would feel stronger [at 125] and would like to see that.”
So, where would the rising bantamweight be if she wasn’t a part of the UFC? Probably right where sitting. “I went to school for business marketing and management but I always had it in my head that I wanted to fight. But I would probably just be working in a gym, like a jiu jitsu gym, teaching kids. That’s what I did before and that’s what I was doing while I was in college.”
Aside from her impressive striking from starting karate at a young age and winning the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves at just 16, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown-belt as something else that stands out in the octagon. Her very long and impressively healthy blonde hair. While this may seem like not a big deal, when you’re training as much as a professional mixed martial artist, I just had to know her secret.
“I figured it out over the years that I braid it so it causes less breakage. Also, cause I train so much I don’t do my hair so I don’t put heat on it. When I was bartending I would be sweating all day that have to wash it and do it and that caused the worst damage. When I stopped doing that it started growing and staying healthier. So braiding it and not putting heat on it is key.”
Check out Katlyn Chookagian’s next battle in the octagon at UFC 210 on Saturday April 8 live on pay-per-view. The official fight card line up is TBD.