Our weekly female up and comer column, Phoenix Rising Featuring Miss Alyse Anderson.! When asked to describe herself in one simple word, 18 year old Alyse Anderson turned to her mother and said “mom, how would you best describe me?”. It didn’t take long at all for Mrs. Anderson to muster a response as she instantly replied, “tenacious, you are absolutely tenacious sweetheart”.
That’s a very powerful word to describe a young lady with but if you’ve watched Anderson on the soccer field or in the cage, you can see exactly what her mother is referring to. There is a fire in her eyes that makes you believe she is destined for greatness at whatever path she chooses to follow in life. This is her story, this is Phoenix Rising!
Born and raised in Mason, Michigan, Anderson grew up in a martial arts family. Her father, John, owned and operated a karate school when she was younger. She also played soccer all throughout grade school so between that and karate, Anderson has been driven to succeed from an extraordinarily young age. Earning her blackbelt as a teenager, Anderson’s interest in MMA started to accumulate as she grew older.
“At my dad’s karate school, he’d always have MMA fighters training upstairs so I kind of always had an idea of what it was. After training in karate for so long, I was looking for something different and I wanted to challenge myself more,” Anderson told CombatLifestyle.com.
“I started going to local fights in the Michigan area and I thought to myself ‘I could do that’ so I immediately started working my ground game. I’ve always had striking with karate so I had to get my wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu down.”
Despite all of her years of karate training, Anderson’s parents weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of seeing her fight in a cage. After all, its one thing to watch your daughter kick a soccer ball or point spar someone in a controlled karate match but it is an entirely different ball game to watch her in a cage fight where, potentially, she could get knocked out or choked unconscious. However, it all comes back to that one word, the very same word that Anderson’s mother best describes her with… tenacity!
Anderson showed her family how determined and passionate she was about this and that’s tough for any parent to ignore. They eventually gave their stamp of approval under the assumption that it would only be one fight, one time. That turned out not to be the case as Anderson is currently 3-0 as an amateur and looking to make her mark as a fulltime fighter in the sport. Her family supports her every step of the way.
“When I first told my mom that I’m taking a fight, she was like ‘No you’re not, no you’re not’, she was absolutely against it. I told my mom that I was only going to fight once but then they offered me a second fight and ever since then I’ve wanted to pursue MMA as a career,” Anderson said.
“My parents are very supportive though. Obviously they still don’t want to see me get hurt but they are truly my biggest fans and I am very thankful and appreciative of all that they do for me.”
Anderson made her amateur debut seven months ago at Total Warrior Combat 16 in Lansing, Michigan. She dominated her opponent, Summer Asbury, with an aggressive onslaught of strikes before the referee stopped the bout 46 seconds into the very first round. It was an impressive debut but one that almost didn’t happen as Anderson had some doubts days before stepping into the cage.
“I was really nervous for my first fight. I would stay up late at night and wonder if I really should do it or if I should wait longer because I had just turned 18 in January,” Anderson said.
“My coach assured me that I could do it and when we got there, I was sitting in the corner of the locker room with my head phones on visualizing the fight in my head. I visualized myself winning and performing well so that definitely helped me get in the right frame of mind. I was super pumped to get that first win out of the way. It was an unbelievable adrenaline rush for sure.”
Anderson went on to win her next two bouts by submission and is now starting to make some noise in the WMMA community. However, she predicts it will likely be another three years before she turns pro. A freshman and star soccer player at Spring Arbor University, Anderson is focusing on her education and not putting all her eggs into the MMA basket just yet. Although, she was quick to note that if a major promotion or gym made her an offer she may just have to switch to online classes.
“I still need to sort some things out in my life before I take that next step in fighting. I play college soccer and we just won a conference championship so right now I’m really putting a lot of focus into soccer while still training and getting better at MMA,” Anderson said.
“Right now is the primetime for women’s MMA and seeing all these girls turning pro right now, makes me not want to wait three more years. My dream is to fight for Invicta someday. That’s where all the top female fighters are right now so I’m hoping to get a shot with them once I’m able to turn pro. Invicta is my long term goal, unless the UFC adds my weight division someday but right now my goal is to fight on the same show that Michelle Waterson is fighting for.”
Waterson is the current reigning Invicta FC atomweight champion which is the same division that Anderson competes in at the amateur level. Anderson cites Waterson as her idol and dreams of one day training alongside “The Karate Hottie” at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, NM. This is a dream that could very well become a reality as Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn are always looking for hungry young talent to mold into champions.
Time will tell if Anderson makes her way down to the desert but right now she’s focusing on improving as an all around mixed martial artist. Her next fight isn’t for another five months so she has plenty of time to develop those skills. And while she may be incredibly young, the tenacious Anderson has an attitude that is wise beyond her years. The future is bright.
“I believe in going through life honoring God and representing good character. I want to show people that you don’t have to rude and nasty to be a good fighter,” Anderson said.
“I’m not a selfish person. I want to help people realize their goals and dreams with me, especially all of my teammates. When I win, my teammates win and vice versa.”