Ahead of Bellator 239, Kristina “Warhorse” Williams discussed a possible flyweight Grand Prix, free agency, and her upcoming fight with Denise Kieholtz.
It’s almost hard to believe, but it has only been a little over two years since Kristina “Warhorse” Williams made her professional MMA debut and stunned boxing champion Heather Hardy to alert the MMA world to her presence. The 30 year old from Oklahoma in that short span has become a perennial contender in the flyweight division where she has already fought some of the best that Bellator has to offer.
Going into her latest fight, against Bellator Kickboxing champion turned MMA fighter Denise Kieholtz, Williams made headlines discussing the need to balance several jobs as she waited to book another fight. She told James Lynch of The Score that she was working as many as three jobs as she struggled to get her next match-up. Considering the immense time and preparation that goes into facing another trained individual in a cage fight, the idea of having several jobs at the same time and sustaining them for an extended period is a taxing thought. For Williams, however, being in the right place and her love for the sport is key to balancing her different obligations and passions.
“I’ve been balancing everything pretty good. With my horses, I can kind of work my schedule around my training so that’s not a big deal and my other jobs are pretty good with working with me. It’s been really good to work for who I work for so that’s how I’ve been balancing it. I guess the thing would be if it was a career job, I’ve thought about that. The balance of having a career job and working towards more of a career job. That kind of worries me sometimes because I’m going to need something really big when I get out. But what I have right now, working with my horses, that’s my business with my sister. So I can work the hours that I need to and up the hours when I need to. My other jobs, I work at the gym and coach so my coaches understand when I’m going to need to take maybe a little time off like in the next couple weeks so it’s been working really well so far. I just love [MMA] so much that I want to see how far I can go with it. I think I’d be shorting myself if I didn’t take the opportunity that I have and try as hard as I can for this. I don’t think I would be happy just leaving it.”
As she makes her return, the women’s flyweight division is awaiting the next chapter as talk begins to intensify around the idea of a flyweight Grand Prix. Williams would figure to be an automatic entrant in a field that would likely contain champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, UFC veteran Liz Carmouche, and surging contenders Julianna Velasquez and Alejandra Lara. “Warhorse” feels that the entire format of a tournament is what she is looking for at this stage.
“I think that would be awesome. I’m really excited that something like that could happen. Having that schedule would be nice. I don’t necessarily have a list of people that I want to fight that I’ve picked out or anything. Just the idea is really cool to be able to move up and advance.”
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) February 4, 2020
When looking at the flyweight division, many feel that the next match-up to make is between the aforementioned Macfarlane and Velasquez. Given Velasquez’s undefeated record and pedigree, a bout with flyweight star Macfarlane is perhaps one of the biggest to be made in the short history of the division in Bellator. While Velasquez has been on an impressive run, she has flown vastly under the radar compared to most of the division. Having shared the cage with the Brazilian contender, Williams gave her thoughts on why the top prospect might have gone unnoticed for so long.
“I think she just flies under the radar because she doesn’t make a lot of noise. She doesn’t promote herself a lot. She’s started more, I’ve noticed recently. She doesn’t do a lot of interviews that I’ve seen and she doesn’t promote herself a lot. I think that’s kind of one of the reasons why. I think that probably should be the next fight (for the title). I don’t know who [else Ilima] would fight next.”
Discussing her latest opponent Kieholtz, the general consensus is that Williams’ experience on the ground will be the deciding factor in their contest. Knowing the styles of both fighters, many fans are also hopeful that the two will test each other in a striking contest. That said, managing strategy and expectations is something Williams is very prepared for heading into Friday night.
“I think she’s pretty good on the ground. I think just getting it to the ground would probably be hard. I think I can stand with her and fight with her. I would like to take it to the ground but I think a stand-up fight is going to be really good. Everybody wants to see an exciting fight and exciting fights are usually people standing and banging. I think there is some pressure for me to do that. But I’m going to go in there and adjust my game plan for what starts happening. So if I want to take it to the ground, if I feel like I should take it to the ground, I’m going to take it to the ground. It’s not really going to matter at that point.”
Ahead of the bout, Williams’ impending free agency also looms over the fight. While all of those conversations lie later on, Williams did mention that being an active fighter is one of her priorities moving forward.
“I want to fight good people. I want to fight often. I don’t want to sit out for a long time and that’s one of the things I want to look out for. I would definitely like to stay with Bellator if they want to re-sign me. But I want more fights, that would be one of the biggest things.”
Kristina “Warhorse” Williams fights Denise Kieholtz this Friday, February 21, at Bellator 239 at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.