We get to know strawweight prospect Meaghan Penning ahead of her strawweight title fight at KOTC: Supremacy 2 this weekend.
Born on September 22, 1995, KOTC’s Meaghan Penning hails from Madison, Wisconsin. Currently living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the strawweight prospect visits her family in Detroit, Michigan for a few weeks every three months. Penning loves to travel and that includes around the US and sometimes overseas. Traveling around the US, Penning finds, can be helpful for her training. That’s a good thing, too, with all that back-and-forth.
The next stop on her itinerary will be in Wyandotte, Michigan, for King of the Cage’s Supremacy 2 on April 13. There, Penning (3-0) will face Marina Coffman with gold on the line.
Penning spoke to Cageside Press about her training and upcoming title bout, among other topics.
“I’ve trained in Denver with Rose Namajunas, in NYC with Renzo Gracie, in San Diego at the Arena, and a few other places. I decided Albuquerque at Fit NHB is the best place for my current goals in fighting so that’s where I live now. Some of those goals include a grittier mentality and fighting style, becoming an eloquent boxer and wrestler, and to continue to improve my ground game, particularly ground and pound.”
At Fit NHB Penning trains with coaches Tom Vaugh, Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn, and Jonathon Judy. When in Michigan at Victorious MMA it’s with Victor Torres, who is the main event on the card. But mostly for the past 6 months, her main sparring partners have been Amber Brown, Nicco Montaño, Brenda Means, and fellow amateur fighters, Sarina Ochoa and Shania Arredondo all at Fit NHB says, Penning.
Before getting into MMA, Penning stated in jiu-jitsu.
“BJJ is where I started, I completed a lot before I switched to MMA. I coached Cross Country running in college which has given me killer cardio and stamina. I also played a little tennis growing up, but in general, I don’t have a very athletic background. Building athleticism was a huge goal of mine and one of the reasons I picked Fit. Daily wrestling classes have made a huge difference already over the last six months.”
Penning made her MMA debut not long ago in July of 2018.
“One of my best friends — Hainite Tuitupou — and I went on a 25 day, 5 country bicycling trip in Europe. While we were there, we were talking about this girl we knew who was in great shape and trained kickboxing,” Penning recalled. “We were like, ‘if we make it back home (it was not the easiest trip…we kinda bit off more than we could chew) we need to train some martial arts and be some bad bitches like that girl.’ So we both did and now, three years later, we’re both 3-0 as amateur fighters. She will be fighting for the Golden Gloves boxing women’s 119 title the same night I’m fighting for the KOTC amateur women’s 115 MMA title.”
While pursuing her MMA career, Penning also takes gigs as a ring card girl for local MMA events. It’s something she certainly enjoys. “I love the glamour and the interactions with the crowd. It’s also showed me who makes up MMA audiences and what they like to see at fights. But more than anything, it’s a great way to gain experience as a fighter – you have the best seats in the house at live fights.”
One of the biggest issues with fighters starting out is usually the weight cut. With Penning, it was a learning experience but she has figured out her weight plan and her diet already. She’s made weight so far in all three of her fights which has been at strawweight (115). Her first two fights Penning had opponent changes and opponents miss weight so she ended up going to 120 for a catchweight.
“Before moving to Albuquerque, I walked around kind of dehydrated all the time. I also ate very low sodium so I’d walk pretty light for the weight class, maybe 121. I remember running in the hot Michigan summer sun and barely sweating two lbs in an hour. Now I know a lot more about the weight cut and have tried a few different techniques. First I tried low sodium and water loading and then would cut 7-8 lbs in the sauna (total) the day before and day of weigh ins said Penning.”
“The last time I fought, I tried more of the wrestling style and liked that a lot better. I start about 10-12 lbs out 1-2 weeks before the fight and each night, I have a new goal weight to hit. The day before weigh-ins, I need to be 5 lbs out and then I cut that in the sauna or hot tub. I emphasize eating foods with high nutrition or calories for low mass weight. Staples include blended nut butters, kale chips, salmon, red meats, and coconut butter bars/cookies. I also eat fruit – maybe two servings a day – oranges, blackberries, and mangoes especially- before and sometimes after my workouts. Makes me feel hydrated and seems to help my muscles with recovery. The sugar also gets me going when I’m sluggish. I try not to cut my water more than half of my normal daily amount until I’m 2-3 days out Penning explains.”
For Penning, it’s all about dedication. “I don’t do anything in my life halfway. If I’m going to do anything, my goal is always to take it all the way,” she said. Whether strawweight will continue to be her home, however, remains to be seen. “It’s still unclear whether I will stay 115 or drop to 105 when I go pro, but whatever weight I end up at, my goal is to be the best in the world at that weight class and defend a title multiple times.”
“After I’ve done that, I want to be in movies that are centered around martial arts stunt scenes like a female John Wick,” explained Panning on her goals in MMA and beyond.
When Cageside Press asked Penning about when she wants to go pro, she said:
“My coaches at Fit NHB want us to stay amateur as long as we can to gain experience. Maybe another 4 or 5 fights. Maybe less maybe more depending on how I progress. I’m confident and excited with the rate at which I’m learning new tools and building athleticism and mentally, I feel ready for anything.”
In three fights, Penning has a 100% finish rate with two stoppages by TKO and one by submission.
“With striking my favorite techniques are all in the footwork. I’ve learned a lot from my coach Arlene about when and how to change up footwork and stances and I’m excited to show more of that. Grappling I love fancy chokes, anacondas and Darce chokes off a transition. I like a lot of things in grappling that might not always be practical in self-defense or in the cage but are cool to learn for the sake of the art.”
Penning will look to improve to 4-0 as an amateur this Saturday for KOTC: Supremacy 2. She’s set to take on 8-fight amateur veteran Marina Coffman.
“She’s 3-5 so she’s had 5 more fights than me and fights regularly. I generally go into a fight the way I would a self-defense situation. I try and take as little damage as possible and finish as quickly as I can. However, I want to make MMA my career and that requires experience in a variety of fighting styles. This fight, I want to show off what I’ve learned in Albuquerque. I don’t want to give it away – you’ll have to come to the fights to find out, but I hope my supporters see me show off some fighting styles I’ve yet to utilize in my past 3 fights.”
To close out the interview we asked a very serious question: PS4 or XBox One?
“Never played either one. I’m awful at video games. The problem is I’ve grown up around video game nerds my whole life so I was always the worst and never properly encouraged. My brother and dad are both computer science majors. As a kid, I played space invaders on a Nintendo 64. One of my best friends since the 4th grade, Mattie, is a consultant at a tech company in West Michigan and her and her fiancé play Xbox one I think? They also recently took up kickboxing. Don’t be my friend — I will convert all your hobbies to martial arts.”