As you may know, my novel Fierce released on 8/14/14. Fierce is a contemporary sports fiction with romance elements, focused on mixed martial arts (MMA). You can read more on Fierce HERE
To celebrate the release, I'm hosting some awesome interviews and guests posts over the next two weeks. These range from females in male-dominated sports to people who are passionate about what they do.
Monday and Tuesday, we had an interview Invicta Fighter Jodie Esquibel. Read it here. Wednesday, gymnast, coach, and author Diana Gallagher discussed coaching and gender stereo-types. Read it here.
"The truth is MMA is just a magnifying glass for what people value. If you value an athlete or martial artist testing themselves against another with a positive spirit then the sport can be an amazing thing. Yet if people just care about blood lust or the expressing or praising of machismo, then it can take a more negative force in society."
Andrew is a fighter in the lightweight division out of Jackson's MMA and occasionally Luttrell's MMA in New Mexico. He went Pro this year, 2014.
LG: What got you into MMA?
AT: I actually got into grappling before I got into MMA. It sort of started in basic training for the Army when they taught me combatives, which largely revolves around Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Grappling is sort of an umbrella term). More than a year later I wanted to show off to my then girlfriend (now wife) and we were working some arm locks on Johnson field at UNM. One day a really short guy showed up and we grappled. I was completely destroyed by him, if I recall he leg-locked me a bunch of times.
I started meeting him at the wrestling room at the school, where I also met three other guys: a doctor who did Judo, another guy who did MMA and another that did Taekwondo. Those three guys taught me everything I knew and one of them advised me to eventually go to Jackson's MMA, which is now my main home.
"Grappling just clicked for me like nothing else had in my life before that. For me, it's an infinite game and a form of expression that keeps me sharp and fit."
LG: How does MMA influence your life outside of the gym?
AT: It has become the main part of my life. I train at the gym, cross train with weights or running and I watch a lot of tape and techniques online. I've been a big fan of Japanese MMA for a long time so I like to think I can bring a unique contribution to the team. I could say that MMA offers many life lessons that I can apply outside of the cage but I would feel too smug and disingenuous. If you treat people with compassion, work hard, keep an open mind and accept the vulnerability that comes with going outside of your comfort zones you will more likely than not find success. That tidbit of knowledge can come from almost any career though
My favorite part of MMA? The positivity. My least favorite part? The negativity.
LG: Men and women tend to fight differently. Do you think you learn from working with both?
AT: Most of the female fighters at the gym tend to be smaller than me so they tend to grapple like smaller male fighters. Technique over power or a better mix of both than what you often find at higher weight classes. Wrestling and striking tend to be exactly the same though. Fighters like Michelle Waterson and Holly Holm are amazing strikers that are really in the top echelons of the gym in that category.
For me, when working with women compared to men, it comes down to ability and size more than sex of the fighter. My gym has up-and-coming amateur fighters as well as champions. Depending on the situation or aspect of martial arts that I'm training at the time, I have to turn it up or down. If I'm grappling with a small guy who isn't that good I'm going to concentrate more on technique than muscling him. If Holly Holm is punching me in the face I'm going to hit her just as hard back....well I will at least try to. Have you seen how hard she hits people?!?! - Andrew Tenneson
LG: What do you have coming up that you would like fans to know about?
AT: I'm currently on the lookout for another fight or two before the year is over. I had my first two professional fights just recently and was able to win them both.
I would really appreciate it if fans followed me on social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook, and shared my posts to help build some hype.
I'd like to think there is a fighter out there for everyone and I want to fight for the thinking, feeling, fun-loving underdogs.
LG: Thanks, Andrew, for the great interview! And thank you for reading. Please be sure to check out Andrew's links below