Professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, it’s the clash of perception and reality where one is real and the other is real. Two equally gruelling and demanding forms of entertainment, but antithetical in their identity.
Ready to make the jump from one reality to another, fierce pro wrestling veteran “Alpha Female” also known as Jazzy Gabert, is motivated by the challenge that awaits her, having signed a deal with Japanese promotion Rizin Fighting Federation.
Despite their differences, mixed martial arts and wrestling have been closely linked ever since the UFC’s inception in 1993. For the most part, the crossover between the two has been one-way traffic, with fighters such as Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott, Frank Trigg and more recently, Matt Riddle finding moderate-to-good amounts of success (in Abbott’s case, zero) inside the squared circle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, pro wrestlers making the ill-advised jump to the Octagon have been, for the most part, the victims of their own popularity, as CM Punk showed in his extremely poor MMA debut at UFC 203. Besides Brock Lesnar winning the heavyweight title, the trend seems to be less successful for wrestlers moving the opposite way.
The Alpha Female makes the switch to MMA
Gabert, 34, has been a stalwart of women’s wrestling since making her debut in 2001, having competed for almost 50 different promotions in 15 different countries. This includes major success in Japanese promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom; the ultimate proving ground for women’s wrestling.
After dominating her field for almost 17 years, “Alpha Female” made the decision in 2016 to risk the security of her career as a performer to pursue MMA.
Last October, Gabert made her MMA debut, where she defeated Manuela Kuhse via second round TKO. Just two months later she would appear in front of 19,357 at the Saitama Arena. Even with just one pro fight under her belt, the performer known as “Alpha Female” would make herself known on Rizin’s grand New Year’s Eve stage where she would come face to face with women’s MMA behemoth Gabi Garcia.
“To be honest [I’ve] never really told anyone the story,” began Gabert, detailing how she began her journey as a mixed martial artist three years ago. “There was a friend of mine who asked me if I want to do an MMA fight in America and as stupid as I was I said yes, then I thought wow I have to go training and that was originally the idea why I started the MMA training because there was this possibility to have this one fight in America.
“This guy said it’s just an underground fight there won’t be many people watching maybe 40 people and it will be more like a wrestling kind of thing but still MMA, so I thought okay let’s give it a try and I went to this gym and I really loved it there it was amazing.”
Beginning her training
In 2013, with the intentions to progress her MMA development and improve her style in pro wrestling, the “Alpha Female,” who was already a recognised name on the Japenese circuit, began her MMA training in the Land of the Rising Sun. She admitted it was an extremely enjoyable start to her MMA journey; despite her initial apprehensions, but soon realised that she was ill-prepared to enter the cage.
“I told my trainer in Japan that I was going to have an MMA fight in America and he was like ‘no are you crazy you can’t do this and if you want to fight you need to train for at least three years’ and I was like okay whatever I still want to try it then thank god the fight in America got cancelled and now after my first fight I think now thank god because I wasn’t prepared at all, the training I had in Japan as I said was not a real professional training it was like for everybody.”
Even though Gabert began dabbling in MMA three years ago, it wasn’t until six weeks before her pro debut when the Planet Eater fighter actually began training to the best of her ability.
“I haven’t done MMA for that long to be honest when there was this pro fight here in Berlin I only went for six weeks to a professional MMA camp. But I believe I have something special about me I can learn really quick and I am really determined. I don’t want to embarrass myself or embarrass the people that support me so I trained really hard and everyone at the gym was so impressed.”
Will Gabert retire from pro wrestling?
“Alpha Female” has a long list of accomplishments; winning over ten championship belts from Europe, North America, and Japan. But even with her resounding success, she admitted that the changing climate of the wrestling landscape left her pining for a new obstacle.
Proud of her achievements but disgruntled with wrestling’s current high-flying focus, Gabert admitted that her final wrestling match as “Alpha Female” will likely be in July, as she looks to turn 100 percent of her focus towards MMA, and the mountainous task ahead, with a potential fight against Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt world champion Garcia.
“It’s not long ago I announced it only on my private account and it’s not something official but I said 2017 I am going to retire and I actually called all the promoters who booked me already and said look I’m kind of done and I really don’t want it anymore, I think I told them that my last match would be in July.
“I mean I’m fully booked till July, I don’t know like when I add training and the wrestling together it’s so hard and I don’t know if I can keep it up. Sooner or later I need to decide if I want to go this way or that way. I love wrestling don’t get me wrong but I am a little bit tired and I see all these young girls coming up and also people stealing my gimmick I just don’t like it, the politics in wrestling and just the style of wrestling has changed so much now all these people with backflips 10 thousand times and moonsaults as they are called.
“This is not the wrestling I loved when I grew up, I always loved the big guys, Hulk Hogan, The [Ultimate] Warrior I loved this kind of stuff, I loved gimmicks. I said to all my promoters that July will be my last match but till then it’s a long time I will say after my April fight at Rizin then I will make a decision I guess.”
Rizin 4: Garcia vs. Hotta, Gabert’s reaction
With the plan to eventually challenge Garcia at a Rizin showcase, Gabert reflected on Rizin 4 where she came face-to-face with Garcia in a ferocious showdown following the undefeated fighter’s horrendous beating of 49-year-old Yumiko Hotta.
The bout saw a huge amount of backlash following its conclusion, something which Gabert agrees with. However, the Planet Eater trained athlete did offer some sympathy for the situation Garcia had been placed in by the Rizin matchmakers.
“It’s one thing that you can’t kind of do the matchmaking,” sighed Gabert following Garcia’s destruction of Hotta. “She kind of had to accept the booking I can kind of understand that. Of course she just wants to make money and maybe, you never know, I might have my next opponent be a 60-year-old woman. What I don’t understand and what I kind of think is sad is she punched and kneed the woman in the face, yes she’s 49, she’s not too old but it looks like she’s 80-years-old or something.
When will Alpha Female make her Rizin debut?
In the world of professional wrestling, building fan support and recognition is hugely important for anyone who aims to challenge for the top spot and make themselves a legitimate star. With 72,000 likes on Facebook and over 10,000 followers on Twitter, Gabert is certainly an established name in the wrestling world.
She believes this is no different for MMA and wants to win the fans over before she collides with Garcia. With plenty of time to prepare for her April 16 debut in Rizin, which will take place in Yokahomo. Gabert admitted that anyone who challenges Garcia must not only overcome the physical element of the fight, but the mental one too, admitting those before her have been hindered by fear.