The life of a combat-sport athlete is all about opportunities. Some are good, and some are bad. No matter how an athlete looks at them, though, the industry truly is about going out and doing whatever it takes to be noticed and then fighting the best fight of your life once people are watching.
In her boxing and MMA careers, Arlene Blencowe has made it all about seeking out opportunities and making the most of them. That very mentality is what helped her win the WIBA world light welterweight title and the WBF welterweight title as a boxer. Now she steps into the ring again with the opportunity of a lifetime in front of her, with the WIBA world welterweight title up for grabs on the world stage.
“Last year, when I went to New Zealand and won the two world titles, one of them was the WIBA at light welterweight, so this is in the weight division above. One thing that I thought when I took the upcoming fight was that it’d be pretty cool to hold world titles in two weight divisions,” Blencowe admitted to Combat Press. “The WIBA is as prestigious as the boxing WBC, it’s a well-known title. Holly Holm held the title that I’ve got—the WIBA light welterweight—and she has achieved a lot in the sport.
“I’m confident because I’ve actually been concentrating on my boxing more so than my MMA since my boxing title fight in February. We knew this fight was coming up before the fight with Faith [Van Duin], but obviously with the fight against her I was also doing my MMA training.”
Blencowe’s bout on Sept. 27 in Springfield, Va., against Tori Nelson marks her first fight outside of the Oceania region. Whether it’s boxing or MMA, fighting on the world stage is where Blencowe wants to be.
“It has been a goal for my whole professional career to break the international market, and especially America,” Blencowe admitted. “I guess for me it was a little bit of a race as to whether I was going to get there with boxing or MMA first. It’s pretty exciting, and hopefully it means I get to go over a bit more. Another one of my career goals is to hold a world title in boxing and take out a championship with one of the major [MMA] promotions overseas, like Invicta or Bellator.”
Making the trip over to the United States from Australia isn’t as easy as it would seem. Sure, there’s the obvious, it’s a long flight, but being on the plane is one thing. Paying for a ticket is something else entirely. It’d be easy to assume that with her upcoming bout being for a world title this is an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime for Blencowe. However, the fact is, the only part of that statement that is true is that it’s a trip of a lifetime. Blencowe doesn’t mind, though. It’s about creating new career opportunities.
“Last year when we flew to New Zealand, we paid for our own accommodation and flights and everything to get over there, and then didn’t get paid a purse because the money that would have been the purse got paid as a sanctioning fee,” Blencowe explained. “Going over here, we’ve had to pay for our own flights over. This time I’m getting paid a purse, but there’s still sanctioning fees that come out.
“Going over is coming out of our own pocket, but these are the sort of opportunities that I need. We wanna break into the international scene and network and get my name over there. Beating someone like Tori Nelson is going to get some heads turning. And because we’ve been willing to pay our own way over, hopefully that means we’ll get a little more credit and it’ll open up some more doors.”
With a boxing record of 2-2, Blencowe finds herself once again in front of a top-tier opponent. Throughout her boxing career, Blencowe has always sought out the best competition to fight and even then she has struggled to find opponents that will take the fight with her. Nelson, who holds an unblemished record, is certainly a big test for Blencowe.
“Tori is an undefeated boxer,” Blencowe said. “It’s her home crowd and this will be her fourth title defense of the WIBA [title]. I’m expecting a tough fight, but in saying that, I’ve had a lot of sparring with girls that are very similar to her style. Even though I’m expecting a tough fight, it’s exactly the same as with Faith. I went into that fight with her being undefeated, and I just enjoyed the whole experience.
“I didn’t let the pressure get to me at all considering I was on a win streak and beating Faith would do a lot for my MMA career, especially because she is signed to Invicta and where she was ranked. I knew that losing to her would set my MMA career back a few notches, and with all that going on, I didn’t let the pressure get to me and I just went out to have fun. It was all such a relaxing feeling, and I knew that I was ready for big things.”