Bellator 201: Kristina Williams’ Quiet Run into the Spotlight

Bellator MMA's Kristina Williams
Kristina Williams (left) Credit: Bellator MMA

Kristina “Warhorse” Williams has gone from unknown to prospect in just two fights, but she could turn Bellator’s flyweight division upside down by completing the hat trick at Bellator 201.

They say that real life is crazier than fiction.  Imagine a fighter, soft spoken but relentless in her attack, who comes out of nowhere to put herself on the brink of title contention.  You might think you were watching a movie with a hastily written script.  But this isn’t fiction, and Kristina Williams is one upset away from possibly forcing a title shot just three fights into her professional career.

Just over a year ago, Williams was working full-time showing and training horses.  MMA wasn’t her original endeavor, it was that of her brother.  “He had a couple MMA fights.  I was in Tae-Kwon-Do at the time.  He kind of got me into doing Jiu-Jitsu and MMA stuff.  It took me a while to get into the  jiu-jitsu part.  But he’s the one who really got me into it.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of her run has been that Williams public persona couldn’t be more suited for someone who has surprised the MMA world by flying under the radar.  Williams acknowledges her quiet approach but told Cageside Press that like anyone else, it is simply a matter of time and familiarity.  “I am very reserved but once you get to know me I talk a lot.  I have a big sense of humor and I like joking around.”

In the first professional fight of her career, Williams upset the dominant boxing champion turned mixed martial artist, Heather Hardy.  In the second, she dispatched the most recent title challenger in Emily Ducote.  Once unheralded, “Warhorse” is one more upset away from turning the division upside down.  Bellator has taken notice, signing her to a new four fight contract following her victory over Ducote.  Her next opponent, Valerie Letourneau, is one of the most experienced fighters in Bellator’s flyweight division and is the most recognizable name in the weight class from her time as a title challenger in the UFC.  Williams is aware that a victory over her would lead to a title shot in most circumstances.  But only three fights into her career, Williams understands that a championship opportunity isn’t guaranteed.

“I think that Valerie should be in line for the title so it would seem like it.  But if I don’t get it next it’s just more experience for me.  I’m not worried about whether or not I’m going to get that title fight next but I would take it if I got it.  This is only my third pro fight.  I definitely don’t mind if I have to fight another time at all because that’s just going to help me out I think.”

Going into Bellator 201, there’s an understanding that expectations on her will be far different.  She brought an element of surprise against Hardy and Ducote, a luxury she won’t have against Letourneau.  “She’s definitely the most experienced person so far and she’s fought the highest level of opponents.  I don’t think she’s going to underestimate me.  And there’s more for her to watch of me.  I think I won’t have that (the element of surprise) in this fight but I still think I have a really good chance of winning this fight just because of the work I’ve put in and because of my striking style and her striking style.  I’m ready to bang it out with her if need be.  I’m really excited for this fight.”

Williams explains that her quick rise has changed her life, mostly in that she is now able to make her fighting career the main obligation on her time.  “I’m training full time now.  Life’s been different with more attention and getting used to the interviews and social media aspect of it.  It’s definitely been different but it’s been good.”

Williams frequently makes the three and a half hour drive from Oklahoma to Dallas to train and admits that it has left less time for other activities, most notably in the time she gets to ride horses.  On how much time she gets to go out to ride, Williams says “Not near as much, especially for this camp.  In my downtime I get out there a lot more.  But this camp I’ve rarely been out there.”

That’s not to say that Williams never finds time to unwind.  She’s enjoys volleyball and getting out with her friends.  While she is now a surging prospect in one of the biggest MMA organizations in the world, she continues enjoy the same pleasures as everyone else.  Recently, she joined the legion of fans who binge watch the popular sitcom The Office.  Like so many fans who were late to the party, she has the luxury of enjoying it in it’s entirety with fresh eyes.  “I never saw it so I’ve been watching it from the beginning.”

There’s plenty of speculation about what Bellator will have planned for her with a victory, but none of it comes to pass without winning on Friday first.  That means overcoming the most experienced contender in the division in Valerie Letourneau.  But just as she has twice before, Williams respects her opponent but feels prepared to get another victory. “I think her striking is the most dangerous part of her game.  But then again she may want to go to the ground since in my last fight I did get taken down so she may think that’s a really good option if the stand-up isn’t going super well.  I’m definitely ready for both of those things.”

Kristina “Warhorse” Williams will face Valerie Letourneau at Bellator 201 Friday, June 29 on the Paramount Network.