Alice Stewardson in focus.

In my written adventures, I usually know exactly who I want to write about next, so this time I asked the very astute guys at Addicted if they had any of their own suggestions, as I do try to cover all areas of MMA. The lovely Chris Emmanuel came up with a 21 year old female amateur that had slipped under my radar, and when I started my interview with Alice, I could see immediately why her name had come up as a very strong, hardworking, solid young lady replied to my questions, and I found this interview a pleasure to write.

I asked Alice how old she was when her journey on the martial arts path started and it turns out Alice was a very young starter. “I started Judo when I was 5 years old at a club in Nuneaton called Red Phoenix Judokwai, I then changed clubs 4 years ago to Impact Combat and Fitness, in Lutterworth. I continued to train and compete in Judo at Impact, and then began to try MMA classes after watching some of the Impact lads compete in a MMA Fight show that I attended to watch and support, and of course I liked what I saw and wanted to give it a go. My experience in Judo meant I was able to take people down, however I had little striking experience so started to take part in the Boxing and Kickboxing classes, to which I found myself training every day in either, Kickboxing, Boxing, Judo, MMA, fitness etc. and I loved it, not just the exercise but the general atmosphere at Impact”.

Alice has a win against Victoria Hayes where it seemed her Judo came into play with strong take-downs, and she had a loss against Joanne Doyle who she fought at 66kg for both, but for her next fight at Golden Ticket on the 25th February Alice will be taking a drop down to 61kg as her coach Kris Charlesworth has suggested. Alice explains “I’m thankful for that, I feel great, my training has improved a lot and I’m excited to fight on the next few shows at Bantamweight”.

Alice seems comfortable with her team and her coach, “Impact is a fantastic gym to train out of and represent, and as I said before, the atmosphere within the gym is brilliant. I have a wide range of training partners, including Josh Plant (European Champion) who also competes in Judo, so can help me apply my Judo techniques into MMA. Impact has a variety of classes as well as the facilities so I couldn’t ask for more in all honesty. My coach is Kris Charlesworth, Battle Arena Coach of the year 2016, he’s worked with me for the last 4 years, since I walked through the door at Impact, with me not having a clue about MMA, just Judo, he’s put a lot of time and effort into helping me develop as a fighter as he gives 110% to all his fighters. Kris, along with the other coaches at Impact are always friendly, supportive and help you to progress”.

Alice has been training hard since her loss on the ground as she explains “I lost my Battle Arena fight on the ground badly, since then Kris has got Vince Sutton on board who has been working closely with me twice a week to progress my ground game. Vince is great and has taught me a lot since that loss, encouraging me to compete in BJJ competitions for experience, arranging seminars and grappling sessions with other gyms, so I get the all-round experience. In addition to that, Kris has been working on developing my stand up with Boxing and Kickboxing sessions in the evenings, also arranging training sessions with other gyms such as Nottingham MMA, so I get different fight partners. All of it practice and with practice you can only improve”.

Alice looks up to Ronda Rousey,”I know that’s likely to be the typical female answer but Rousey comes from a Judo background and has achieved phenomenal results in both Judo and MMA, she’s smart, generous and hardworking, she’s the first American in a decade to win a world cup in Judo. Shes an Olympic Medalist and is also the first UFC female Champion to make a million dollars. Impressive! When Rousey beat Beth Correia, she gave her UFC belt to a Brazilian Judo school for a social project as a gift. It’s great that she gave back to the Judo community as that’s where she started”.

There is a fight that Alice would like to have, but she’s keeping quiet on it for the time being, “I’ve had my eye on this person for the last 12 months, I can’t give a name, but it’s a fight that I and a lot of people would like to see happen”.

Alice works full time, trains every day and is also completing a 5 year university course, finding it difficult to juggle everything sometimes she says “I do enjoy it and I get support in doing all three, I would like to fight professionally of course but at the same time I also need to get qualified and work my way up the ranks in work at the same time. Training with Josh is great, as I have seen him progress from a Judo fighter to a mixed martial artist and now a Pro. If I could follow in his footsteps, that would be great. There are a lot of talented fighters at Impact, who are all more than capable of turning Pro, and if I’m lucky enough to become one of them then I would be happy, I’ve currently 2 fights lined up this year so that is my focus”.

A five-year plan is a lot for Alice to think about, “tough question” she says “I am going to continue to push my training as an amateur and continue to expand my record both in and out of the cage. Coming from a Judo background I have bad habits that I’m correcting through hard work and practice. Ideally, alongside building my MMA record, I would like to compete in both Kickboxing and Grappling /BJJ tournaments to gain confidence and skills to become an all-round fighter. I have had conversations with the team at Battle Ready, a fight management company, that I would like to work with in the future, until then my upcoming fights take priority and need to be focused on”.

The biggest influence for Alice so far have been her team mates at Impact. Alice explains “Nate Diaz once quoted “You fight by yourself, but you didn’t get that way by yourself. It’s a team sport and everybody helps you get to where you’re at”. Alice goes on to say, “I along with the rest of the fighters wouldn’t be where we are at today if it weren’t for A, the coaches, B the team mates and C, our sponsors. We have all experienced the joys of winning, the disappointment of losing and we are and always will be there to support and encourage one another”.

Alice would like to thank her coaches, Head coach, Kris Charlesworth, alongside Vince Sutton, Iain Ward and Josh Plant. “They’ve given 100% to me from day one, and will always be there to support both myself and all members of Team Impact in whatever journey they decide to take. I would also like to thank all the Team Impact sponsors who support Impact Martial Arts and provide help to myself and the rest of the fight team. I appreciate you all supporting us daily and the interest you show in the progression of the fighters. I would also like to thank Liam Sharp at Aesthetic Physiques who has been working with me, providing guidance and support regarding nutrition and how to optimize my performance”.

Judging from this interview Alice knows exactly where she’s going, and I for one will enjoy watching this journey, as I think it will be a very exciting and positive one.

Interview by Beccy Davies.

Images by Marc Moggridge.