Following Combate Americas 17, there were headlines as CEO Campbell McLaren bestowed top contender Paulina “Firefox” Granados with a championship belt and promised her a fight for the vacant title in her next outing. However, the topic of conversation was Combate star Kyra “Mogwai” Batara who was unable to compete that night in Redlands. MMAUncaged caught up with Batara to discuss Combat 17 and her response to Granados’ statements.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to MMAUncaged Kyra. First, happy belated birthday! Were you able to enjoy the red velvet cake you told us about?
“Thank you! I actually didn’t, I was so bummed. The day after my birthday is the day I got injured. That’s when I ended up pulling out of my fight. I was so sad that my fight didn’t end up happening. I was like ‘Oh I don’t even want to eat cake anymore.’ So it was kind of depressing. But it’s okay. I’m better now, I tried to stay close to my diet. I did indulge and have a little bit of ice cream. But nothing big, no birthday party this year.”
It flew under the radar until fight night that you weren’t going to be competing at Combate 17. We know that you suffered an ankle injury, can you tell us what happened and what the doctor has said about a return?
“So, this was an injury that happened in my fight in July. The next day I was kind of limping on my foot. I rewatched the fight and I couldn’t find anywhere that I got injured. It was just one of those weird things that I just tweaked my foot weird. A few days later, Campbell (McLaren) had asked me ‘would you be ready to fight on the LA card?’ And I had asked him, ‘Look, I hurt my foot. I don’t know what happened. Would you be willing to do a catchweight because I don’t know how my foot is going to hold up but I would love to fight.’ He goes ‘I’m not going to give you the title fight unless you fight at your own weight class.’ So I was like ‘Alright, I’ll take it.’ I kept fighting through it all through camp, it was just kind of a cramping feeling, nothing serious. I had it looked at by my chiropractor, he told me I’d be good to go. So I just kept training on it.
Finally, ten days out from the fight I was in wrestling practice and I got in a single leg position and I twisted out weird. I heard a pop and I felt something go really bad fast and I walked out of practice barely able to put weight on it. I had to have my brother carry me out to the car to go to urgent care. There was nothing that showed on the X-Ray so I knew I had to get an MRI. I knew it wasn’t broken. It was probably a really bad strain so I got MRIs as soon as I could. Regardless of the results of the MRIs I wouldn’t be able to get them done until two days later, they couldn’t schedule me soon enough. That would be seven days out from the fight, and if I can’t put any weight on it there’s just no way I could make it through the fight.
So unfortunately that’s when I gave Mike a call and I told him what happened: that I was on crutches, and that I had a foot/ankle injury. But I got it looked at, I’ve seen three different doctors, three different MRIs, three different X-Rays and all throughout the incident every other week I was getting check ups on it so I am good to go now. I just got my last MRI a few days ago. I’m cleared, still getting it rehabbed from my chiropractor and it’s good to go. I’m back to full training, I’ll be ready to go for the next card.”
The night of El Grito en La Jaula, Campbell McLaren presented Paulina Granados with a championship belt and told her she would be fighting for the vacant title. What was your reaction to the news knowing you were supposed to fight that night?
“I think it’s funny. Paulina is next up in line considering she does have the second most wins under the Combate banner. But being the second most wins, she only has two wins. That’s not that many. I’m 4-0 under the Combate banner. She’s coming off two decision wins. If that’s what they want, that’s what they want. I mean sure, use her, give her the belt, let her think she’s gonna be the champion because she needs all the hype that she can get. When she gets in the cage with me she’s in for it. That belt is mine. I keep telling everyone I’m the Combate Princess, I’ve earned my spot with Combate, I’m first up for that title. She’s my contender, this is my spot, this is my belt, and she better be ready.”
I saw on social media that you faced some backlash for pulling out of the fight. How do you handle that kind of reaction because I know you are great with your fans but of course you have to make the best decision for your career knowing you’re very close to a title shot?
“I do feel so bad about it. I love being able to give back to my fans and put on a great performance for Combate. I get so much love and support. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my friends, my family, my fans, Combate supporting me so I do feel bad that I had to pull out on short notice. Like you said, I have a long career ahead of me. Campbell totally understood, your title fight is more important than this (the Redlands match) fight. This fight is nothing compared to the title fight that I need to give you. You need to remember, this is my job. This is how I make my income. So it’s not like ‘Oh, I’m just gonna play hookey today. No, I fight only so many times a year and I need this income to support myself. I took two weeks off work where I was losing money in order to train for this fight. So I’m losing money, relying on this paycheck to pay my bills, and then I get injured and end up paying more bills for being in the doctor’s offices non-stop. I mean, people need to understand the fighter’s struggle and I would rather just keep my body healthy. I just turned 23 years old. I’d rather take care of these minor injuries rather than have more serious ones in the long run. I have a long road ahead of me. It’s really disappointing that I couldn’t put on the show that everyone wanted but I’ll be back in there soon. I know that I need to take care of myself first.”
MMAUncaged did speak with Paulina in Redlands and she had plenty to say about a possible fight between the two of you. What is your response to her comments?
“It’s not even worth it fighting with Paulina. I just find it so funny. I watched when you were interviewing her and she doesn’t even let you finish your statement, she always just butts in and says her own thing, doesn’t really make much sense. I just kind of laugh. There’s been so many incidents all over social media where we’ll get in these keyboard battles, and it’s like ‘Dude what are you event talking about? That doesn’t even make sense.’ I’m like telling her that I’m 4-0 under the banner, I have more finishes than her, that she’s not worthy because I was ranked in the top ten at the time and she was ranked like 30 or 40 coming off a split-decision over a girl who was like no one at the time. And her comeback was something like ‘Oh you’re fat. Oh you’re ugly.’ I was like ‘Okay…’ it’s gotten to the point where it’s like little kids arguing. This is a joke, you’re not even worth my time or energy arguing with you. I know I’m better than you, I know I’m going to win this fight so I’m not even going to give you like my energy to fight back with you.”
There was a lot of talk that the fight for the atomweight belt would be on November 11 on the same night as the recently announced Copa Combate tournament. Is that the target for your return?
“Campbell (McLaren) does want to focus on the guys for this tournament. I was supposed to be in Miami to help promote it but like I said, the life of fighters. When we’re not training, we’re coaching. I got a job at TruFusion which I just started so I couldn’t make it. But the November 11 card is going to be huge, all the guys are out there and it’s the eight man tournament. I will be pushed to the next card, December 1. So focus on the guys, I’m really happy for them and I’m excited for that tournament. But, you’ll see me on the next one in December.”
Is the plan for you to fight Granados for the belt or are there other fights on the table?
“I don’t care who it is. I know there were talks with other opponents prior. When I was in Miami there was talk of other potential opponents but I just got off the phone with Campbell about a week ago and he’s saying probably Paulina. I don’t care who they put in front of me, either Sheila Padilla or Paulina Granados. Whoever it is, I’m ready for anyone, I’m prepared for anyone. I’m working on me. I’m not preparing for any specific opponent and I’m sharpening my tools. I know I’m going to be ready.”
Finally, what’s your message for your fans who have been wanting to hear from you since September?
“I love you guys. Thank you for the support. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without all the support from everyone. I feel bad about pulling out from my last card so just know that I’m not just sitting around, eating chips and relaxing. I’m ready for the next card, recovering my foot, I’m ready to go and I’ll give you guys the show you want to see.”