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Clare’s 36-year-old MMA fighter now a champ

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By Melissa Schlicht
Correspondent

Autumn Hale Women’s MMA CHAMPION!

First fight of the night Autumn Hale, age 36 years vs Saddie Singet, age 20 years  – when the steel cage slammed shut Autumn’s first thought was simply, “Breathe”.

One minute and thirty five seconds into the first round Autumn smashed Saddie into a well-executed arm bar causing her opponent to submit. And becoming a women’s MMA champion.

Autumn works full time at Clare Family Fitness, trains at least five days a week, is planning and preparing for her wedding, and is a mother to her step-son Joseph and daughter Aleah. She is now the Spyder Submission Fight League’s reigning Women’s Bantamweight Champion.

On top of all of that, just last week she took second place in the NAGA competition she attended with her Jiu-Jitsu team 10th Planet Fitness Clare Hot Box. And last year in her first Jiu-Jitsu competition ever, she took second place in the State.

This girl is on FIRE.

Autumn says she came upon fighting by accident and that it was “on her bucket list.” In 2005 she had been cornering for a fighter competing in a local tough-man competition when she was approached to fight. They had one female fighter and needed a contender. She was in shape from her regular work outs but had not trained for fighting or fought before. She accepted the challenge. And although her opponent was much larger than her and had more experience she won.

She went on to do some training and fighting in Thailand. She was there for roughly two years and her trainer told her she was a natural fighter and should compete. So she did, and she won those fights too!

It takes about 8-12 weeks to properly train for a fight. Autumn trains at 10th Planet Fitness, the Clare Hot Box located in the back of Clare Family Fitness. She trains with her team and coach Brett “the Spyder” Sbardella of Harrison. The pressure to perform gets greater with each match. Autumn said that before this fight she did some Hot Yoga in Mount Pleasant to prepare herself and relax before her fight last Saturday.

Autumn’s closest friend Alexis Hoogerhyde helps her train – she says Autumn “threw me around like a rag doll and I walked away with many, many bruises. I had to call in Linda Coon for back up.” Alexis says that Autumn’s second family is her team that they “always have each other’s back no matter what”. She says they support each other in training, in wins and losses and that they are all “a little crazy…you have to be a little crazy to go in there and get punched in the face”. But that’s what binds them all together. Autumn says her team is her support system that they are “all there to prepare each other for fights and work on each other’s weaknesses. Some are stronger in some areas where others are weak but together we are one”.

Autumn trains hard and struggles to balance her life as a mother, fiancé, trainer, fighter and team mate. But she says “I couldn’t ask for a better life.” She says she loves the discipline she gets from her training, the competitiveness of the sport and the empowerment. She jokes that it “feels pretty good to get to punch people in the face and get away with it”. MMA has changed her whole life, it brought her to her fiancé Joe Pnacek, made her a stronger person and has made her feel very safe.

You can see her fight online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdyOjz4EMdQ to understand a little better –as to why she feels so safe.

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