Eagle River's Lauren Taylor believes one of the most important things in life is to be kind to others, even mixed martial arts opponents she meets in a fight cage. But she's all business and agressive once a match begins.
"The shorter time I spend in the ring, the more money I make per second," she said.
Taylor, 29, won the biggest fight of her brief MMA career earlier this month, cashing in a prize of $6,000 for defeating Kaitlin Young by unanimous decision at the Invicta Fighting Championships 5 in Kansas City, Mo., which is a long way from where she started three years ago.
Taylor didn't seriously compete in any sport as a kid, but she thought it would be a good idea to introduce an athletic hobby to her then nine-year-old son, so she signed him up for a jujitsu class.
"I stayed with him to do the class, and I loved it," Taylor said. "He did not like it."
Taylor discovered she possessed plenty of athletic talent, including an abundance of raw strength. When jujitsu led to boxing lessons, one of her trainers suggested she try fighting in the Alaska Fighting Championships.
"I never even put on gloves until I was 26," Taylor said. "People are usually thinking about retiring at that age, but I'm just getting started."
In June of 2010, it took Taylor 17 seconds to win her first AFC fight by technical knockout. In October of the same year, she won another fight by TKO and then claimed the AFC state championship at 145 pounds with a TKO victory over Willow Bailey at Sullivan Arena in January of 2011.
"Probably my favorite fight ever was against Willow Bailey," Taylor said. "I'm super grateful to the AFC for giving me my start."
With her most recent win, Taylor improved to 6-0 and is starting to set some serious goals, like reaching the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
"Eventually, if I continue to do well, I probably will be in the UFC, but it probably won't be for another year."
Taylor's immediate goal is to prepare for her next fight in July, another Invicta event in Kansas City. The 135-pound bantamweight recently had a chance to earn a spot on a reality TV show called "TUF," which stands for The Ultimate Fighter and airs on FX. Contestants on the show are brought to Las Vegas to train and fight for a shot at a UFC contract.
Taylor, who currently lives in Panama City, Fla., and trains in Houston, decided against trying out for the TV show because she didn't want to leave her current trainers and regimen. Taylor visits Houston for a couple months at a time and a typical training day includes two or three trips to the gym for a total of eight or nine hours of workouts.
When it comes time to enter a fight cage, Taylor is genuinely having fun, so much fun she equated the experience to that of a kid playing in a ball pit at a McDonald's Playland. Fighting is natural to Taylor, her greatest assets being toughness and a penchant for outworking opponents.
"I may not be the fastest fighter who ever lived, but I hit pretty hard," she said.
Considering Taylor never intended to be an MMA fighter, she has done a decent job of capitalizing on the opportunity.
"It seemed like every time I turned around there was someone challenging me to fight," Taylor said. "I just kept winning."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.