Aiming for the TUF 23 House – Helen ‘Hellraiser’ Harper


Helen ‘Hellraiser’ Harper will be setting her sights on the bright lights of Las Vegas on December 14th for season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter Trials.

Born and raised in Aldershot, Hampshire in the UK and having spent a few years living and competing in Phuket under Phuket Top Team, Helen is now firmly back where she started at home in Farnham, Surrey.

With her only loss coming by the way of controversial stoppage due to a Groin Strike against Strawweight UFC Athlete Cortney Casey, the 28-year-old has only been competing in mixed martial arts for four years and holds an impressive record of 4-1 inside the cage.

Not content with simply applying herself to the world of mixed martial arts, Helen has also competed in several Muay Thai events successfully including winning her pro kickboxing bout.

The pound for pound ranked #4 in UK & Ireland and #1 in Southeast Asia on Tapology does not take anything for granted in this forever evolving sport and has been working hard over the last few months by competing in many Gi and No Gi Competitions. So much so that Helen has picked up 7 Golds, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze, placing in every competition she has entered.

Helen Harper Main Event Picture

Having recently competed in a Muay Thai event at ‘The Road to Main Event’ on November 21st against Kat Holden, Helen took the fight on 2 weeks’ notice due to some prior pull-outs with her own schedule of fights in mixed martial arts.  After three hard fought rounds, Helen was the one to walk away victorious with a decision win, although it was no easy feat.

“I’d had a few pull outs in a row and the only fight that I could have had was up in Sunderland, which would have meant I wouldn’t have had a corner.  It was very frustrating.  My coach at Shinkick  (Jesse Saunders) told me he already had a few guys fighting on this show and they’d had a pull out – did I want to fight? Of course I said yes, that’s equivalent to asking a fat kid if they want cake…

“It was incredible! Kat is no walkover, she’s a seriously tough girl and as you said, it was by no means easy. I absolutely loved it though, and would do it again tomorrow if I could!”

Having decided to sharpen up her forever growing arsenal of tools in her tool box, Helen has been focusing more on becoming more specialised and dedicated to the whole of her MMA game.  Having spent some time down at Legacy BJJ/Urban Kings under the tutelage of BAMMA‘s Head Match-Maker Jude Samuel, who was in Helen’s corner for her last MMA fight against Sophie Langsford where Helen picked up a win via decision over three hard fought rounds.

“I’m sharpening up my technique. I can brawl amongst the best of them but when it comes to technique I do struggle to keep things tight. My Muay Thai is the main thing I can see a big improvement in, and that’s thanks to the guys at Shinkick – especially Jesse and Rob. Strength and conditioning is done at Andy’s with the resident S&C coach, James Hardy. Wrestling is also at Andy’s, with Csaba who is an absolute beast – fantastic teacher and all round nice guy. I couldn’t ask for a better set of guys. Having spent a few months’ worth of training up at Jude’s in London, it is a fantastic gym, but I just couldn’t afford to keep travelling up there.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who does find themselves in the Kings Cross area though.”

Helen Harper The Main Event Punch & Knockdown pic

 

Having recently been over to Phuket in Thailand to see her good friend and UFC flyweight athlete Ben Nguyen get married, which must of been amazing.  Helen went over to AKA to train and then competed in a Muay Thai fight.

I went over to witness Ben’s wedding, and had the opportunity to fight, so I grabbed it. Unfortunately, I also got very sick that week so it wasn’t my best fight but I made it to the end without throwing up so I was kind of happy about that!

Now back in the UK, Helen is set to face one of her biggest goals to date – the TUF 23 Trials out in Las Vegas on December 14th.  This is not the first time Helen has gone to try out for The Ultimate Fighter, back in April 2014 for season 20, Helen made it through to the final 20 athletes which is a great accomplishment in itself.

I came home on Monday evening to 8 messages telling me about the trials. I wasn’t going to go, purely through lack of funds, but then Andy had a long chat with me and told me to get there any way I could. He reminded me that this is what I have been aiming for all this time so it would be stupid not to go.

UFC is an organisation where anything could happen. Yes, I know the general expectation of me, but what they are looking for in a person for each series varies from show to show. The real bonus having been to Vegas before, is that there are a number of friendly faces I can count on to cheer me on!”

With costs from the UK to Las Vegas being expensive, especially on a massive UFC fight card week, yet alone near Christmas, Helen has decided to set up a ‘MAKEACHAMP‘ page to try to assist with the costs associated with getting to Las Vegas for the TUF 23 Trials.

Andy encouraged me to get to the trials any way I can. I am a Teaching assistant who’s been living in my overdraft since I can remember. Realistically the only way, even though I absolutely hate asking people, is to ask for help. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support. The way I look at it is people are not only giving me their hard earned cash to achieve my own dream, which is incredible in itself, but they are believing in me. For that I am extremely lucky.”

Helen is also holding a grapplethon at the gym she trains at, Andy Roberts BJJ, on December 6th to also help raise funds for herself to get to the TUF 23 Trials.

The plan is to grapple for 8 hours (10am-6pm). I was worried about not having enough people to turn up so I have been trying to book half hour slots – it’s not going that well so far. I hope I will get a few more booked this week! If anyone wants to come, it’s in Farnborough on Sunday and open to anyone!”

Helen would like to thank the following:

Whisky Wolf @TheWhiskyWolf

She cries war @shecrieswar

Str8 Cheer @STR8_CHEER

Xbrain @XbrainUk

Battle Balm @BattleBalm

Pony Club Grappling Gear

Andy Roberts BJJ @AndyRobertsBJJ

Shinkick Muay Thai @ShinkickMDK

And you can follow her on these social media platforms:

Twitter @hhhellraiser

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/HelenHellraiserHarper/

Instagram – hhhellraiser

Website – www.helenhellraiserharper.com

Thanks for your time Helen.  I look forward to seeing you reach your new goal and wish you the best of luck.

Photo Credits: Main Pic Say Uncle Promotions

Photo Credit: Pic 1 Main Event

Photo Credit: Pic 2 Scott Griffiths

YouTube video: Wombat Sports

 

“It will be a quick 1st round finish, or it will be a long drawn out back and forth battle” Helen’Hellraiser’Harper


British MMA athlete Helen Harper [3-0] today faces American, Cortney Casey at PXC 47 in Guam for her fourth Pro MMA fight.

The forever professional Harper, has flown thousands of miles across the world, from her home in the UK on her own, just so she can still keep on competing at top-level.

Here I get to speak with Helen (today, on the day of her fight), about her last victory, competing for PXC, up and coming female MMA athlete’s and that ONE contract she turned down!!

Helen Harper PXC 47 Profile Picture
Helen Harper PXC 47 Profile Picture

It’s been awhile since I’ve caught up with you, last time we spoke you were due to fight Simona Soukupova, which, unfortunately got cancelled due to Simona sustaining an injury, but I do believe you did manage to get another fight scheduled for a few weeks later.  Can you talk me through what that event was and how that went for you?

I did indeed get another fight, which was actually my last fight back in October. The fight was at ‘Say Uncle Fight Night’ in Sheffield, and I fought a girl from Gran Caneria called Nayra Acosta.

How did it feel to win in such a spectacular style in another TKO victory, in 4 minutes 37 seconds of the first round in that event on the evening of October 11th 2014?

I was pretty pleased with the win, obviously.  I was completely relaxed going into the cage which I think helped a lot. 

I’ve heard that in between your fights, you took part in some grappling competitions and that you had also been doing some training with Bryony Tyrell and Molly McCann.  Can you talk me through the grappling events and training with other like-minded female MMA athletes.

I have done a few grappling comps, although not as many as I would have liked as they are generally a little out my price range sadly. Training with Molly and the other girls was awesome, Molly is the next big thing in WMMA!  

Helen Harper Jiu Jitsu on the Beach Win via Armbar 2013
Helen Harper Jiu Jitsu on the Beach Win via Armbar 2013

You’re now 3-0 in your professional MMA career thus far and are set to face American Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey (3-1) on Friday 13th March for your debut at Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) 47 in Guam.  How are you feeling about this new exciting challenge?

To be honest it’s all been a bit of a dream. Ever since I accepted the fight I’ve been telling people where and when it is but I don’t think I ever quite believed it would be happening. Now I’m sitting in my hotel room on fight morning and it really is!!

You’ve recently signed to PXC, can you talk me through how this came about?  Was it due to you being well-known through the Asian community, having spent 2 years at Phuket Top Team Training and living there before moving back to the UK?

I have been in contact with the guys from PXC for a while, and I would have loved to have fought for them back when I was in Phuket (it would have been a lot easier to get to then!).  I was struggling for fights so Ken (matchmaker) messaged me and offered me this fight with Courtney. I accepted the fight before knowing the opponent, although I knew who she was as soon as he said her name.

Helen Harper Weigh In PXC 47
Helen Harper Weigh In PXC 47

I also read somewhere, that you were offered a contract with Asian MMA promotion ONE? Firstly is this correct, secondly if so can you talk me through your reasoning as to why you felt it was not the right time to sign with ONE.

I was indeed offered a contract with ONE. My main problem was the lack of girls on their roster. It was an exclusive contract (meaning I could only fight for them) and at the time they only had 2 girls at 115 lbs (Ann Osman, who has now moved up to 125 lbs and Sherylin Lim who refused to make-weight and now doesn’t fight for anyone). On that basis I didn’t want to sign an exclusive 3 fight deal as I felt it would inhibit the progression of my career.

Looking back at that decision, is it something that you still stick by to this day for those reasons or is their just a tiny bit of you thinking ‘ I wonder where my career would be now, if I took that option’? 

To be honest, if the deal was the same (exclusive, 3 fight) I still wouldn’t sign. I believe unless there is a significant amount of fighters at your weight, signing an exclusive contract would not be productive. If it was non exclusive or a 1 fight deal then I would consider it.

On Friday 13th March, its fair to say that you will face your toughest challenge to date in that of  American Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey at PXC 47 in Guam.  Have you managed to study any tape on Cortney, if so, have you and your team seen any holes in her overall game that you can exploit to your advantage? 

I’ve watched quite a few of Courtney’s tapes, she has a lot on YouTube. She’s very quick, and has some amazing submission transitions. Obviously I can’t give anything away on my part, but I will just say I’m more than ready for this.

Where do you feel that you will be stronger in this fight and where do you feel it may end up?

I have a feeling Courtney wants to take it to the ground, but who knows where it will end up!

Cortney has only seen the third round once and that was her second pro fight which resulted in a submission (Armbar) loss, back in October 2013, you yourself have only been to the third round once which was in your first pro MMA fight back in May 2013 for which you won.  You both have very similar styles.  Do you see this fight going all three rounds in an all out war or are we going to see a quick finish?

I can see it going one of two ways. Either it will be a quick first round finish, or it will be a long drawn out backwards and forwards battle. I’m happy with either, as long as I get my hand raised at the end of it!

Helen Harper vs Sammy Donnely at UIC
Helen Harper vs Sammy Donnelly at UIC 11

When you came back from Phuket, you made a new home at ‘ Andy Roberts BJJ’.  Can you talk me through how it feels to come back to the UK and to be accepted at a top UK Gym and also be treated like family?

Andy’s is amazing, I’ve made some friends for life there. I’ve also been training at Shinkick for Muay Thai and Urban Kings for some extra grappling. All three gyms have been nothing but supportive, kind and pushed me in the right direction. I’m very lucky to be able to train with such wonderful people.

I have to ask, your nickname ‘Hellraiser’ how did it come about?

The name Hellraiser actually started out as a bit of a joke. A friend of mine in Phuket used to shout ‘Hellraiser’ at me every time he saw me, and I didn’t even realise he was talking to me to start with. After a few weeks I started responding to it so it just stuck. When my first fight came around it made sense for it to be my nickname.

Since fight day is Friday 13th, are you superstitious at all, if so by what and what superstitions do you believe in?

I’m not really superstitious, I believe life is what you make it. Everything that seems ‘bad’ at the time usually happens for a reason (you just might not know the reason at the time). I’m all for walking under ladders with black cats, you only live once! 

Lastly, is their any sponsors or anyone you would like to Thank?

Absolutely! Firstly my sponsors: Xbrain (supplements), Battle Balm (herbal muscle relief), Str8 Cheer (sports bras) and Pony Club Grappling Gear (fight wear). Secondly the gyms I’m lucky enough to train at: Andy Roberts BJJ (Farnborough), Shinkick (Woking), Urban Kings (Kings Cross, London) and Mad Hatters (Chichester). Also, I’d like to thank each and every person that has sparred with me; gone over a bit of technique with me; pointed out a mistake of mine. Collectively you have all pointed me in the right direction! Finally, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my insanely awesome family and my gorgeous boyfriend.  

Thank you for your time Helen, I really appreciate it.

You can watch Helen Harper take on Cortney Casey at PXC 47 today from 11.50 am UK time here.

 

Fight Order for PXC 47

Fight Order for PXC 47

You can keep up to date with Helen on her Fan page Faceback here.

Helen’s Twitter account here.

Helen’s personal webpage here.

Photo Credits: Helen Harper via her  Personal Facebook (Pics 1,2,3)

Photo Credits: Seth Bates – Ulitmate Impact 11 (Pic 4)