This time last year, Rachel Wray was spending her Sundays on the sidelines of Arrowhead Stadium as an NFL cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs. She stumbled onto an MMA gym looking for a way to change up her workouts and before long she preferred the feel of the canvas to the stadium turf. Now she's left the NFL for the fighter's life. These days when her lips are red at work, it's not lipstick—it's blood. Wray talked to us about leaving cheerleading and how she's prepping for her upcoming fight at the Voodoo Lounge in Kansas City later this month.
FIGHTLAND: Is there any similarity between fight training and cheerleader training?
Rachel Wray: [Laughs] There is nothing similar between fight training and cheerleader training. To be a professional cheerleader you need dance practice, swimsuit modeling, football knowledge, public speaking, and have perfect hair, nails, and makeup at all times. I always laugh when I get out of a fight practice because I always look so disgusting —drenched in sweat, no makeup, hair a huge mess. As a cheerleader if your lipstick isn't perfect at practice, you get in trouble. They are polar-opposite worlds.
Why did you leave cheerleading to become an MMA fighter?
The reason I chose to leave cheerleading to fight was simple: I enjoyed it more. Just when I was really getting into the MMA training, Chiefs cheerleader auditions were approaching. I had to make a decision. It was impossible to do both. I knew it was right because on nights when I had cheer practice, all I could think about was being at High-Davis Mixed Martial Arts gym. Fighting made me happier than cheerleading. I enjoyed it so much more, I made the switch.
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