Atomweight sensation Kyra “Mogwai” Batara has made a name for herself since becoming the face of Combate Americas. MMAUncaged caught up with Batara ahead of her fight against Jenna Serio on September 15.
You’re one of the most popular fighters in Combate Americas, what goes into being one of the biggest stars of their promotion? Do the media obligations ever cut into your training?
“They’re very understanding. I’ve been with them since their first show in Vegas two years ago. I’ve built a good relationship with them. I’ve been to Miami twice for media. I’ve been to New York twice for media. I’ve gone to L.A. on multiple occasions and they’ve always treated me very well. They always help me in any ways that I need. They know I’m very close with my mom. As long as my mom is there with me, I’m comfortable with all the situations they put me in.”
Does your mom watch your fights live or does she not like to see you compete?
“Yeah, she’s actually cornered me for the majority of my fights. She’s been my third for my corner, she’s even worked my corner before in Montana when my coach pulled out on me eight days before the fight. She’s always there, she’s always cheering me on and I have to have her backstage. I get really nervous before my fights so I make sure that she’s back there with me.”
You’re at the top of the atomweight division but there is no official title yet in Combate. Do you know when they plan to have an official championship?
“Back in February, I was supposed to be given the belt after I won that fight. But I missed weight so I had to rebuild my relationship with them. Then I had this last fight in July. I was matched with the girl I was supposed to fight in February. I dominated the fight and made weight. So they told me win this fight and I’ll get a title shot in Acapulco later this year.”
What is your current goal at atomweight? Obviously the Combate championship is in your sights but do you see yourself possibly competing in other promotions like Invicta to win their championships.
“I’m staying with Combate. I’m actually re-signing my five fight contract with them. I’m very happy with them. I’ve been with them for two years. I would love to go with them to fight for Rizin again or if other opportunities present themselves. But I’m happy to have Combate back me up.”
You mentioned earlier this year that you would like another chance to fight in Rizin on behalf of Combate, have you received any update on possibly fighting overseas again?
“I have not. They’re having a women’s 110 tournament grand prix coming up. I was super bummed that I didn’t get on that card but I’m really excited to fight super close to home again. After this I can have a bit of a break. It was my birthday last Monday so I’m going to celebrate it a little after the fight then go right back into camp to prepare for my title fight.”
The big dream, I assume, is that eventually the big promotions like the UFC or Bellator open up an atomweight division so you can showcase your skills to a larger audience. Until that becomes a reality, what is your personal goal?
“I think Combate is up-and-coming. I wouldn’t compare it to Bellator or the UFC. I think that Combate is going to be bigger than Bellator this year. Of course, everyone wants to see the 105 division in the UFC. But the way Combate is making moves this year, I don’t know. Maybe I would be okay staying with them. I have a lot of friends who fight in the UFC and I know a lot of people who are not happy in the UFC. I think the ultimate goal is just to be the best atom weight in the world. So if that does happen, of course I’ll go to the UFC and fight at the top but until then I’m happy with Combate and I’m happy building with them and taking on all the hard fights that they can throw my way.”
Before we talk about your career, let’s go back a minute. You’ve discussed going from being a cheerleader to a wrestler in high school. What is it that attracted you to the sport that led you to MMA?
“It was about the confidence that it gave me. I always had trouble fitting in when I was a cheerleader. When I was wrestling I stopped caring so much about my self-image and how I dressed and the people I hung out with. Being a part of the team at Team Quest at the time made me feel so comfortable in my own skin. I was getting closer with my family again, getting closer with my core values, I was at a really good spot in my life and I stuck with it. It made me a better person. It made me stronger, happier, healthier, and it soon became my dream to be an MMA fighter.”
How did the boys handle being beat by a girl?
“I’ve had some boys that took it very personal. Not too long ago I had a guy reach out to me on Instagram and say that I had crushed his manhood back in high school and that he had wanted a rematch. It was all very silly. A lot of things have changed since high school. Back in school I had to prove myself. They didn’t want girls on the team. I got bullied a lot. I actually ended up being home schooled because I was being bullied so much. Sophomore, Junior, Senior year I just wanted to focus on my goals and stop caring so much what people thought of me. Especially those who didn’t agree with my transition from being a cheerleader to part of the wrestling team. So I stayed true to myself. I was surrounded by my family who supported me 100%. I feel like the best move for me was to be home schooled, it gave me that edge on everybody because I was training double the amount of hours than every high school kid was.”
You have plenty of fans on social media that love to talk with you. Firstly, did you really finish off those five hamburgers after your last fight?
“I’m such a fat kid at heart. I make fun of myself all the time after I missed weight in February that it’s because I’m a fat kid at heart and I just love food so much. I can eat like a grown 200lb man so I know after this fight I’m going to be putting down some belated birthday cake as well.”
You’ve also talked with fans about your hair and gone through several different styles recently. What look can we expect this time around?
“I love having my head shaved. It felt so empowering as a woman to be able to go out there and shave my head and not care. But I like being able to style it. I was laughing as I got it styled for my last fight thinking ‘How intimidating do I look going out there looking like a Spice Girl?’ It’s all about branding. I think having the length that it is now, it’s fun to play with. I can do cool styles to go out there. I love rocking my pig-tails so I think I’m going to keep it this length for a little bit.”
In your career, you are no stranger to being called out by your peers. How do you choose opponents knowing many of them are just looking for a high profile fight?
“My mom always picks the fights. With Paulina (Granados,) she’s the one I really do not like with Combate. She’s flipped my mom off on occasion, she’s cussed her out. She’s called me names numerous times on social media. I gave them a list of who I want for this coming one and I did give them Jenna Serio and Stephanie Alba because Paulina fought them both and she went to decision with both of them. Jenna Serio actually put [Paulina] out for a few months. She couldn’t fight for a few months because her face was so messed up. I want to go in there and prove a point like ‘Look, Jenna is not on my level and you barely beat her.’ So I want to go in there and say ‘You can fight me but I know I’m the best.’ I’m still undefeated under Combate so they can call me a spoiled brat, they can call me whatever they want, but I know I’m training hard and I’m here for a reason.”
Is it safe to say that you’d like to fight Paulina in Acapulco for the title if you win this upcoming fight?
“No. I don’t. I don’t even think she’s even worthy of fighting me. That’s why I wanted to fight Jenna Serio, to say that [Paulina] is not on my level and she’s got work to do to earn that spot to fight me.”
What are you thoughts on Jenna Serio as an opponent? She hasn’t competed since she fought Paulina last year, do you expect the layoff to affect her?
“I hate talking bad about the people that I’m about to fight. I respect everyone that I’m about to go in the cage with and being a martial artist. But at the same time, you have to respect them enough as a martial artist but also have that anger in your heart because they signed the contract because there’s something inside them that thinks that they can beat you. I think she took a year off and she hasn’t been in the cage so she might have some ring rust. I know that she went to Thailand to work on her striking but her striking is not gonna save her with my wrestling background.”
Finally, what is your prediction for how the fight will go on September 15?
“I’m finishing her in the first round. I’m going to get that choke.”
Kyra Batara will be fighting Jenna Serio in the co-main event of Combate 17 on September 15, 2017 on AztecaTV.