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!!
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!
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.
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!
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
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)