On any given Saturday night the average 20-something woman can be found sliding themselves into an ill-fitting dress and covering their faces in makeup in preparation for overpriced drinks and dancing.
Last night the not so average 20-something, Lauren Taylor did her own dancing but it was to the sound of a packed arena.
As part of Invicta FC 6 she went into an all-out slugfest with the #9 bantamweight fighter in the world on the very first all-female MMA pay-per-view event broadcast around the world.
The win came via unanimous decision and sent Sarah D’alelio home with red, swollen eyes and puts Lauren at the big kids table, as she’s now ranked within the top 10 women in MMA.
That’s all extremely impressive, but at the same time surface-layer junk. You’ll find more to admire when you look past her vicious elbows, sniper accurate striking or tenacity and aggression in the octagon.
As a friend and training partner she has an awesome spirit. When she isn’t cutting weight (most fighters fight at about 15 lbs lighter than they normally walk around at. The weeks before their fights are filled with eating small portions of beyond healthy, mostly bland food and copious amounts of water) you’re nearly guaranteed she’s bearing a smile. Even when she is cutting, the smile isn’t too far under the surface. If you’re curious about something, you never feel uncomfortable approaching her.
It’s very exciting to see someone wake up every morning and dedicate their time and energy to the thing they love. She is a constant presence in the gym. Whenever you pull into the parking lot, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll see her car parked in one of the spots you only get if you were there bright and early. In a school where the population is VERY male dominant, I assure you, when the coaches demand a set 75 star jumps, Lauren will be among the first finished and ready to do more. Even if her tank is on empty. That’ll inspire anyone to push themselves just a bit more.
Her respect for her instructors’ knowledge is something a lot of fighters would benefit from. It’s very common for a fighter to carry a big ego, but it seems like Lauren keeps an extra hanger in the locker room for hers. She might even forget to bring it with her most of the time.
And then there’s her dedication to her personal life. When she’s in a training camp, Lauren finds herself nearly 700 miles from home. Her fiance and their dog are ten hours away. Nine months ago Lauren sang to me the praises of her “amazing man” back home. When I interviewed her for the podcast a few months ago, she was seriously contemplating dropping the idea of fighting because she loved her man so much and it hurt to be far away for extended periods of time. (if you missed that interview it’s right here ( 33 Say it With Your Fist). Thankfully she’s continued to fight, racking up the wins and transformed her boyfriend into her fiance. She’s also attending school (and not failing at it like a certain writer might have a habit of doing).
Oh, and did I mention she never put on a pair of gloves (or participated in any sports, really) until she was 26 years old? Yeah. That’s right. In three years she’s gone from being a mom walking into a gym with her son, as a means of finding a sport for him to one of the top 10 women fighters in the world.
Overall Lauren is a great person. Dedicated, caring, strong. Many authors have spent their time writing about heroes that overcome the odds and triumph over the evils of the world. I’ve decided to write about the same thing. The only difference is that this hero isn’t fictional.
There was a time, not too long ago, that I thought my chances at being successful this late in my life had dwindled down to “when pigs fly” territory. When I first met Lauren I was making excuses on a regular basis as to why I couldn’t go to the gym. After a couple of months it became clear that her skills on the mat were surpassing mine. It made me sit down and take stock of my whimsies. I had to think about what I really enjoyed doing and force myself to commit the time to it. If you want it, you’ve got to be willing to give 100%.
If you have any lingering doubts about Lauren’s character, I have one last cup full of praise. Before Lauren’s fight with Legacy MMA, she was renting one of the rooms in my house. Every morning that she was here, I awoke to the sound of the coffee grinder tearing its way through beans. It wasn’t long before I was awakened by the smell of coffee lifting me out of bed cartoon style and floating my way into the kitchen. If that doesn’t tell you what a shining example of humanity this woman is you clearly don’t understand what it takes to make a person worthy of praise.
It’s making coffee every morning.
Oh, and all of that other stuff I said.
Lauren’s record is now 7-0. No word yet on her plans after her Invicta FC appearance, but the news shouldn’t be too far in the future. I’ll keep you posted.