This is the start of our Feature interview series, designed to share the inspiring stories of the GAMMA family – passionate and committed individuals who come together for their love of MMA.
One such individual is Alexa Lucido from San Diego, California. Lucido has successfully transitioned from athlete to a fight coordinator and striking coach. A member of Steel MMA and Fitness, she recently travelled to Amsterdam for the GAMMA World Championships 2021 as part of the support team for GAMMA USA.
We caught up with her to ask her how she got involved with MMA, her thoughts on the industry in general and her future aspirations.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
GAMMA: What first attracted you to MMA and how did you initially get involved?
AL: Growing up, I was always interested in wrestling. That was the first martial art that really drew me in. I did a very small amount of wrestling in middle school and helped out with doing stats, keeping score and anything else that was needed with my high school wrestling team. I kept up with the college wrestling scene as well, but since there really wasn’t any professional wrestling, MMA was the next best thing, and I found it fascinating. I began watching a lot of MMA and decided that I wanted to start training. I took one Muay Thai class and immediately fell in love with the sport. From there, I started training Muay Thai almost every day and have also done some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling as well as MMA.
GAMMA: You are an MMA athlete turned coach. What prompted you to get into coaching?
AL: I had a few Muay Thai fights close together and unfortunately suffered a couple of injuries. I was trying to continue training and became much more of a training partner than a fighter, losing a bit of the desire to fight. I was helping manage our fight team and being at all of the fights I was asked to help be in the corner for some teammates at a Muay Thai tournament. I think that was the weekend I fell in love with transitioning to the coaching side of the sport. Standing in the corner with fighters gave me a completely refreshed approach to the sport. There is nothing like contributing to the success of a fighter you have worked with.
GAMMA: What is the most important lesson you learned as an athlete that has helped you as a coach?
AL: To take care of the mental aspect of your training, especially when you are preparing for a competition. To be successful, you have to spend a lot of time training in the gym and all of the other physical elements that it’s so easy to disregard checking in with yourself mentally.
GAMMA: It has been said that MMA is quite male dominated but we are now seeing more and more female athletes, coaches and officials getting involved. How has your journey as an established coach and travelling as part of teams been?
AL: I have been very lucky to come from a gym that has always been supportive of female athletes and coaches. I feel like I have generally been respected as a female coach and it is something that is looked upon favourably. That being said, being a female coach in a male-dominated sport can be challenging in some ways but I try to let my coaching speak for itself. My ultimate goal is to help the athletes I am working with improve and be as prepared as possible for their competitions. Being able to travel for fights has exposed me to so many new people and experiences, which has helped my personal development so much.
GAMMA: Team USA did very well at the recent GAMMA World Championships in Amsterdam, with two of the three gold medals coming from the women. How important is that for the future growth of GAMMA USA and promoting the sport to young women?
AL: I was so honoured to be a member of the Team USA coaching staff at the GAMMA World Championships this year. Victoria Anthony and Hannah Rokala, our two gold medallists this year, are not only incredible athletes but phenomenal human beings. The way they carry themselves and promote themselves is such a great example for all women, but especially young women who are interested in becoming MMA athletes in the future. They are strong and confident and are always willing to learn from whoever they encounter. I think having positive female role models like that is so important for the next generation, showing them how far hard work can take them.
GAMMA: How important is it that there is an organisation like GAMMA that is working to innovate MMA while making sure it remains accessible and safe for all?
AL: I am excited about all the things GAMMA is doing for the sport of MMA right now. Giving amateur athletes the opportunity to compete on an international level is an invaluable experience that will only help them become even more successful when they transition to becoming professional athletes.
GAMMA does a lot of things right and is able to navigate the complexities of organizing events in so many different countries with different languages, cultures and customs, and I think it’s fantastic that they are always looking for ways to improve and make things even more seamless for the MMA community. Keep up the great work!