Arguably the most talented prospect in women’s martial arts in Australia, Arlene Blencowe will make her long waited debut in the AFC when the promotion heads to China for the very first time on April 15. Arlene has fought for numerous promotions both in Australia and abroad, and has also faced some extremely talented opponents; in what has still been a short career to date, Arlene has been there, seen it and done most!
The martial arts journey for Arlene has been one of great success and accomplishment however it has also provided some hidden challenges that Arlene has had to face and overcome. Although difficult, Arlene has been able to work her way through the challenges like a consummate professional:
“I had my debut MMA fight in April 2013, then within a four month period I had 7 fights, 3 of which were in one night on Storm Damage. That definitely being one of the highlights of my career. Fighting on promotions in Australia such as Nitro, Brace, Fight World Cup gave me the opportunity to start my MMA career and build my fighter profile.
In 2014 I got a 4-fight contract with Bellator MMA. I debuted May 2015 where I faced an experienced veteran to the sport and came away with a first round TKO win – this being another highlight of my career.
I’ve spoken in the past about the challenges I face daily with the juggling act of being a fighter, mother, partner, running a household and along with working two jobs. As my kids get older and become a little more independent and also now capable of helping me around the house, as well as having a supportive partner who helps in every way possible, I no longer class this as a challenge but more so just an act of balancing life so that all areas of it can get the best of me.
Most recently the biggest challenge I’ve had to face was my mindset. Last year was a year of setback, hurdles and obstacles that at times mentally broke me. Only those close to me saw what I was going through and helped me during the toughest times, meanwhile on social media I remained a positive headstrong athlete. In hindsight now though, I believe I should have shared my experiences to show that things definitely aren’t always smooth sailing. I’m in a really good place with everything now and I’m keen to progress forward, which was shown in my last performance”
Before Arlene ventured into the world of martial arts, she first applied her trade in the boxing arena where she went on an initial rampage recording numerous TKO victories. Arlene quickly showed she had fight ending power in her hands, and that is where the name ‘Angerfist’ originated:
“The Angerfist name originated when I was an amateur boxer after winning my first three fights via TKO. My hands are heavy and I punch with intent, however the name didn’t really stick until my MMA career began where it’s well known that my strengths lay in my hands/fists”
Arlene last fought in January when she faced Janay Harding. On paper Arlene was a warm favourite heading into the fight and on that basis her intent was to put on a dominant display and earn an impressive finish. Arlene definitely delivered on that intent finishing Janay in the very first round. However, most martial artists are their own hardest critic and that is well and truly the case for Arlene:
“I felt like I needed to make a statement in that fight. I’m an international fighter with my only losses since 2014 being to two women ranked in the top 5 in the world. I needed to prove why I am one of the top fighters in the world. Despite coming away with a fast finish I still critiqued my performance, something I’ve always done, win or lose. Full credit to Janay for stepping into the cage with me, I respect fighters like that”
Arlene’s position as one of the top female martial artists in the Country has earned her a call up to the AFC’s first international fight show, a real honour for any athlete who gets the opportunity to complete on this particular show. Although Arlene has fought for many promotions including Bellator, there is something very special about the opportunity to fight at AFC 18:
“I am extremely honoured to be a part of AFC’s first international card. They are a well-respected promotion here in Australia and I’m excited for what is ahead with them branching into the Australasian market. There are a lot of fighters who would have liked to have been given the opportunity to fight in China on AFC, I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity.
I don’t feel like there is any extra pressure going into this fight. Just like any of my previous opponents, I am taking this fight very serious and giving my opponent the respect she deserves”
On April 15 it will be go time for Arlene, however a majority of the hard work is done prior to fight night spending extensive time in the gym continually refining techniques and strategies. For Arlene, she is lucky enough to train at one of Australia’s premier gyms that being the Lions High Performance Centre, alongside some legitimate martial arts warriors. For Alrene, the opportunity to work with the very best this Country has to offer is a massive advantage as she prepares for AFC 18:
“I train out of and fight for Lions High Performance Centre in Western Sydney under head coach Shaun Sullivan. There’s a really good energy and vibe through the gym with big things in place with the recent announcement of Western Sydney Wimp2Warrior, UFC signings of Tai Tuivasa and Tyson Pedro, plus my teammates are in camp for their fights on the Lions Fight Night in April. Not to mention now having several other female fighters in the gym to train with, after being the only female fighter in the gym for ages!
Avtar Deshi, my wrestling coach has helped me heaps and pushed me hard on the mats; an area that has previously been seen as a weakness in my fight game.
My striking coach Richard Fogarty from Steel City Boxing in Newcastle is always working to improve my striking and bringing in new concepts for me to try”
Whilst working hard in the gym to continually improve and refine her craft, Arlene’s focus is solely on her opponent at AFC 18, Rhiannon Thompson. Rhiannon generally employs fast paced, high output approach resulting in some wild brawls in previous encounters. Based one the fact that both fighters have proven to be willing to stand and trade hands, a dead set blockbuster is well and truly on the cards:
“Rhiannon has an impressive win over currently signed Australian UFC fighter Bec Rawlings and has also fought some high caliber fighters. I’m sure the Chinese crowd will enjoy an action packed fight between two experienced females. Very rarely now do you see a fight card that isn’t hosting a female bout on in it, these fights always drawing the attention and excitement of the crowd”
So in a couple of weeks time, Arlene will showcase her skills on what is being called the most historic card in Australian martial arts history. This card will provide a platform of endless opportunities for those martial artists who step up show the world exactly how dangerous they can be inside the cage. Arlene is well aware of the potential doors that will open up should she put Rhiannon away in devastating fashion at AFC 18:
“I’ll be happy to get my second win for the year, a year in which I plan on staying busy and undefeated. At this stage I’m happy to be taking one fight at a time and staying in the winning column and seeing what opportunities arise for me in the bigger promotions such as Bellator and the UFC”
Article by Josh Warner AFC