Kyra “Mogwai” Batara has had a year of ups-and-downs, but on Friday she will get the opportunity to settle the score with arch-rival Paulina Granados in the main event of Combate Americas 19. I caught up with Batara ahead of their titanic showdown.
First off, I know your mom is a big part of your team. How did you two enjoy Cancun for the Copa Combate?
“She had so much fun with me in Cancun. It was a short trip but it was a nice little getaway before locking everything in, trying to make these last adjustments. The last two and a half weeks are just being in the gym all day every day and my Mom never misses a session. I’m really glad I got to go to Cancun with her. She got to put her feet in the sand for a little bit which is good because I knew she was going to be trapped in the gym and sauna with me for the next few weeks.”
This training camp also obviously goes through Thanksgiving. How are you spending the holiday differently this year with your fight coming up?
“I’m not eating, that’s for sure. I’ll be drinking my green juice and having my hard boiled eggs. Unfortunately no turkey this year. I’ve been really strict with my diet so I don’t even want to stray away from it. I’ve already made a huge list of food that my Dad is gonna make but he’s gonna freeze it for right after my fight. I’m gonna have all this food and be like ‘okay set these dishes aside for me because they’re gonna go in the freezer for next week.’ It’s still gonna be a great time. I’m going to be with my family and my best friend and her family. We’re going to have a huge onesie party after we eat and go to the movies. I’m still enjoying myself. I make sure to have a really good balance between training really hard and then enjoying my family time.”
The fight is no longer for the atomweight championship. What was your reaction and do you feel the winner of this fight will be next for the belt?
“They pulled that one on me and I was a little upset about it. There was something up with the TV networking and time slots that they couldn’t fit in five-five minute rounds. We were both upset about it. But, we’re still the main event. Just no title. They say that (the title shot) to me but I’ve honestly been promised this belt for over a year now. Yeah I pulled out of a fight and I didn’t make weight one of my fights. It’s just been a roller coaster of emotions with this belt being tossed around where I’m just whatever. Just give me my fights.”
The fight between yourself and Paulina Granados is obviously a huge grudge match. I want to go back to the beginning. When is the first time you recall ever having an issue with Paulina?
“It was right after I missed weight for my fight with Vanessa (Rico.) I just remember being downstairs right after the fights and Paulina was talking smack. My friend Destanie (Yarborough) who fought Gabi Garcia was right in the middle of us. So obviously we’re tiny, so nobody can see each other. She looks at me and goes ‘Paulina is right behind me and she’s talking mad smack about you right now.’ So she turns around and says ‘You know Kyra is one of my really good friends right.’ And she just went off on Destanie. Destanie is probably three times her size and she’s just cussing up a storm, talking all her smack about me. She’s drunk. She walks away and my mom kind of looks at her and she flips my mom off. So after that I lost all respect for her as a fighter and as a person.”
In the past, Paulina has said that you’re spoiled and that your mother has fought your battles for you. Why do you think she says that?
“I think she’s jealous. She’s not the first person to say that. There’s been numerous people, girls in Combate that have said that ‘I’m spoiled’ or ‘I’m all hype.’ How am I all hype if I’m undefeated in our (Combate) cage? Three of those four fights were finishes and the one fight I didn’t finish was one I took on ten days notice against a girl who was hyped up to be the superstar. I was ranked in the top ten all last year. I’m still ranked in the top twenty this year. I’m proving a point. I’m there grinding every single day and winning my fights. I don’t understand how I’m hyped up or spoiled. I’m earning my spot. I know what I’m worth. I’ve been doing this since I was 13. This is my dream. If you want to keep talking smack, go ahead. I’m just happy that I have my family’s support and that I’m living my dream.”
She called you out on social media to sign the contract on social media. What was going on with that?
“She’s just weird. She’s such a weird girl. We both got our contracts the same day. She signed it a day before me. I don’t even understand what the deal with that was. I was so confused. It was really weird because they had to change the contract because they changed it from a title fight to a non-title fight. It had nothing to do with me. I’ve been talking about this fight knowing I’m going to fight her since September. So I don’t understand what me signing a paper has to do with anything because if you look on my social media I’ve done interviews already announcing that I was gonna fight her. I don’t know what the deal with that was. She’s weird.”
You’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year: the fight in Burbank where you missed weight and your opponent didn’t want to fight at catchweight, the win at the Clasico in Miami, then having to pull out of the fight in Redlands with an injury. What was the biggest struggle for you to overcome professionally?
“Professionally was the weight cut. I was devastated knowing I was just two pounds out and she just refused to take the fight even though she came all the way from Spain. These things happen. I’m so hard on myself for not making weight but that’s just so ridiculous. Opponents change all the time. These things happen. We’re probably going to come into the cage the same weight the next day anyways. But everything’s a learning experience. I think timing is everything. Those few extra months that I got to prepare for Vanessa (Rico,) I mean you saw the fight. She should have fought me in February because I definitely put it on her in July. I feel like I was a lot more prepared for that fight. I am young. Every month that I get of training, I’m becoming a more lethal weapon in my sport.”
For this fight, your team shirts not only say “Team Mogwai” on the back but more importantly “Vegas Strong” on the front. I know you train out of Nevada, how important was it for you to show your support for the city?
“It means everything to me. It’s really important to know your roots, know your surroundings, know where you came from. Being that this is my community, it took a really big toll on a lot of people and you could just see the energy shifting in the everyday life over here in Vegas after the shooting. It was really unfortunate. It’s really great how everyone has brought the whole ‘Vegas Strong’ hashtag to bring everyone together and know that we are still a really strong community and we’re not going to let it bring us down or keep us low. We’re always going to keep our heads up high. That’s just what I fight for. Being a part of something. Making everyone feel proud to be from Las Vegas, living where we are and who we are.”
Finally, what is your prediction for how the fight will go on December 01?
“It’s going to be a finish. It’s going to go to the ground. I am going to take her down. It’s not that I’m scared of her striking, it’s just I’m a great wrestler. I’m great at jiu-jitsu. That’s what I’m gonna stick to. I’m not running away from anything. I know a lot of people are like ‘she’s scared of striking, she’s just gonna wrestling. It’s like, no. This is what I’m good at. I’m going to stick to what I’m good at. I can tell you. I’m going to double-leg you. I’m going to take you down.”
Kyra “Mogwai” Batara will face Paulina “Firefox” Granados in the main event of Combate Americas 19 on December 01, 2017 live on Telemundo. Check your local listings.