An interview with Destanie Yarbrough

2017-12-19 17:00






Destanie Yarbrough (1-1, Buhawe Muay Thai/Halo Jiu Jitsu) will have her next MMA match at Xiaomi ROAD FC 045 XX this Saturday when she faces Begimzhan Kasymova of Kyrgyzstan. Although it's only her third professional fight, the rarity of women in the exciting upper weight divisions makes this an anticipated event, and her a notable stand out. Yarbrough is 175cm tall and tips the scale at 100kgs.

Her natural physicality dictated her destiny - and we wonder if her parents had this foresight! Yarbrough comes to MMA from as strong a sporting background as possible. In fact, it was a family member that first got her interested in a very specific sport, American football.

“Back then, my older brothers all played football. My brother Stanley was my inspiration: he was a natural athlete. I wanted to be just as good as him - if not better. He was my “sibling rival”. I knew I could play football too, and be good at it! So, I started playing at the age of 11, and now I have been competing for 15 years!”



Yarbrough is currently a semiprofessional player for the Central California War Angels. With over a dozen touchdowns per season, she's a running back star.

“Football was the first sport to give me that real adrenaline rush. It’s hard to explain, but in my first tackle, I felt ALIVE! I can leave whatever it is I am going through in life when I go out on that field. In a way, it's therapy to me.”

The sport developed her desire to excel and stoked her competitive flames.

“As a top player in the Women’s Football Alliance league, I'm challenged every season to become a better athlete on and off the field. Plus, all of my family members like different teams, so I learned to “trash talk”; now it's a perk for my MMA career!”

And there's the segue to martial arts.

“I grew up watching MMA as a kid, so I have always been interested in it. I used to imagine myself fighting professional, but never thought I would actually do it! Then, about 3 or 4 years ago I decided to get into boxing. I loved it, but I knew I wanted to do MMA, so I made the switch to Muay Thai.”

Her incredible physical condition and her excellent Muay Thai technique made her pro MMA debut a spectacular one: she was victorious with a 33 second TKO. And yet, the very next day, Yarbrough jumped back in with her football team for another game. She is the consummate sportswoman.

So, what does her family make of her decision to go into another brutal sport, which is not a common path for women?

“My family loves that I am an MMA fighter now. I am sure some of them think I am crazy, but I don’t mind because everyone is crazy in their own little way! They say fighting suits me, since I grew up as the “problem” child - I always got into fights at school or in the streets. So my family is glad that I have made this healthier choice to mature from that recklessness to becoming a professional women’s MMA fighter.”

Yarbrough's fame on the field and her desire to continue in MMA soon brought her a rather remarkable proposition. She was asked to fight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu phenom Gabi Garcia in Rizin. Whereas most fighters might think twice about a match with someone who has leagues more experience in combat sports, Yarbrough didn't hesitate. Women's fights don't come often and they don't come easy.

Before the match, Yarbrough told reporters that she knew her game had to be more about strategy than pure power. She knew she had to be faster, keep it on the feet, and not get distracted by the jump from a small regional event to a stadium event halfway across the world. Yarbrough worked well off her feet at the beginning of the round, and was not afraid to go into the clinch, nor back off from punches. Alas, the massive Garcia tied her up on the ground and won with her trademark submission.

“My experiences so far in MMA have been mind-blowing! Going from a fan to an international competitor has been unreal. Meeting Mirko Cro Cop has definitely been one of my top experiences so far. Even with my loss against Gabi Garcia, I don’t see it as a negative; I see it as a learning lesson. I was expecting backlash from people after losing that fight, but shockingly, I experienced the opposite. I am grateful through it all, and for everything to come!”



The next thing that comes is her debut in ROAD FC for the year end event and the second all-female fight card.

“I have to admit, I was shocked and nervous when ROAD FC contacted me, because I don’t know a lot about the county. Experiencing the fans is an affair I look forward to. I know fighting in Seoul, South Korea for Road FC is going to be incredible, and I can’t wait!”



Yarbrough will face Begimzhan Kasymova of Kyrgyzstan at Xiaomi ROAD FC 045 XX this Saturday, December 23rd. She's researched he opposition and has prepared accordingly.

“I greatly look forward to this match. I have watched my opponent’s debut fight video countless times. Her fight was quick like my first match. I see us keeping it on the feet. She has a strong background in striking and so do I, so I feel we will stand toe to toe and throw our hands and kicks. It should be an exciting match!”

This will be a fantastic continuation for the women's openweight division. Just like their male counterparts, they are “larger than life” and this captivates the audience. With Yarbrough's size, power, and technique, she has an excellent chance to lead the charge.

“Personally, I feel MMA fans outside the United States are more accepting of female heavy- and open weight fighters. I hope and believe that the women's heavy- and open weight divisions will grow via depth in fighters, fans, popularity, and significance. I feel at this moment we are seen as a “joke” in the sport; there are promoters, organizations, and people who see us as “fat chicks” - unpleasant and distasteful to their eyes. My response to those people is always, 'To each his own!' "

"We are a determined and powerful group of women, in and out of the cage. We will not stop paving this road until we can claim a championship belt.”

Destanie Yarbrough faces Begimzhan Kasymova in a women's openweight match this Saturday, December 23, at Xiaomi ROAD FC 045 XX. Visit here for the international broadcast schedule.




ROAD FC announces global expansion into CHINA with 360GAME ROAD FC 027 on 26December
  ROAD FC global expansion into China with 360GAME ROAD FC 027 in Shanghai on 26 December, 2015  9 October, 2015 - ROAD FC announces global expansion into China with 360GAME presents ROAD FC 027 in Shanghai on 26 December, 2015.   During the official weigh in event on 8 October for 360GAME ROAD FC 026, ROAD FC CEO Jung Moon-Hong made the announcement that ROAD FC will be expanding operations into China.  ROAD Fighting Championship is South Korea's premier MMA organization which has held twenty-eight events since it was founded in 2011. After setting a bench mark of one event almost every month in 2014, ROAD FC embarked on a global expansion plan and held its first ever international event in Tokyo, Japan in 2015. This year will also witness more dramatic growth as ROAD FC will host its first show in China, in the metropolis of Shanghai, on 26 December. ROAD FC is currently negotiating a venue with a capacity of 18,000. 360GAME ROAD FC 027 will be broadcast live in China and internationally across multiple platforms, which ROAD FC CEO Jung revealed included: “China's State-owned broadcaster CCTV, local terrestrial broadcasters, and the internet portal of Tencent, we are scheduled to broadcast.”  Tencent is Asia's largest internet company and competes with the largest internet companies in the world.  Tencent's internet portal is one of the largest in China. ROAD FC's live broadcast in China on QQ will begin immediately with 360GAME ROAD FC 026 on 9 October. Event: "360GAME" presents ROAD Fighting Championship 026 Date: Friday, 9 October, 2015Place: Jangchung Gymnasium, Seoul, South KoreaMain event live at 20:00KSTLive PPV stream on at stream on Tencent at  Global expansion next event: Event: "360GAME" presents ROAD Fighting Championship 027 Date: Saturday, 26 December, 2015Place: Shanghai, China