Rachel Wray, cheerleader-turned-MMA fighter, hopes to get some action at grappling tourney this weekend
By SEAN KEELERFS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rachel Wray won't lie: She's itching for a fight. And this weekend, the former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader-turned-mixed-martial-artist plans on picking more than a few.
"I'm waiting for my fight to get scheduled, still," notes Wray, who says she's registered to compete in Saturday's Mid-America Open, an American Grappling Federation (AGF) tournament in Springfield, Mo. "So I'm just looking for something to do in the meantime to compete, or I'll go crazy."
The 23-year-old Wray, who sports a 3-1 record, has been training in recent months with coach Kaleb Plank at Inferno Fitness and Mixed Martial Arts in Bentonville, Ark.
She's hoping to return to the Octagon before August — her last fight was a loss by decision to Nadia Nixon on March 22 — but says no dates have been finalized yet.
"When I was in Kansas City, I just kind of did whatever I wanted," Wray tells FOX Sports Kansas City. "But down here, they're a lot more selective."
Wray says Saturday's event will be her second grappling tourney, as well as a chance to brush up on the martial-arts side of her MMA game.
"A really good way to gain respect in MMA is when you have a 50-50 game," Wray says. "When I was in Kansas City, I was always focused on boxing. And when I moved back home (to Arkansas), our MMA school is also very jiu-jitsu focused. So we all go as a team, and we all go and compete."
Otherwise, it's the same-old, same-old. Despite being the subject of a photo spread in the May issue of
FIGHT! magazine, Wray allows that "she hasn't noticed any difference" in the day-to-day routine.
No autographs. No funny looks.
"Actually, it didn't blow up quite as bad as I was worried that it would," the Arkansas native chuckles. "So, yeah, nobody's looking down at me or anything."
And there's more pub to come. Wray says NBC's "Today Show" visited her in Bentonville earlier this spring for a segment that she's been told will run July 13.
"I'm trying to keep a low profile, just so I don't get distracted," Wray says. "But I get a lot of friends asking me what I'm doing, so it's good to kind of keep them in the loop."
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.