Former Miss United States takes up BJJ, could transition to MMA
Could this be the future face of women’s MMA?
Whitney Miller, the 2012 Miss United States pageant winner, has taken up Brazilian jiu-jitsu and placed second in her first tournament, just three months into training. Miller attended last month’s UFC 168 in December to watch Ronda Rousey defend her women’s bantamweight title against Miesha Tate in Las Vegas. And she’s thinking about making the transition into MMA.
“It’s been talked about,” Miller told FOX Sports. “It’s a definite possibility.”
Miller, 24, has always competed in sports since she was a girl – from soccer to track and field to professional wake surfing. She saw BJJ as “one of the hardest things to do” and wanted the challenge.
“I’m totally addicted to it now,” said Miller, who trains in both gi and no gi. “I can’t stop.”
The Texas native trains at Vasquez Academy in Austin and Austin Kickboxing Academy. She said she does Brazilian jiu-jitsu four times a week and wants to add a fifth day. Miller has also taken classes in boxing and kickboxing. She still does modeling, but says her pageant days are over.
“This is now my new journey,” Miller said. “This is what I’m focusing on.
Miller wants her black belt in BJJ and knows she has a long way to go – she’s only six months into training. But she did excel in her first tournament against women who were more experienced.
Tessa Simpson, one of Miller’s coaches at Austin Kickboxing, told FOX Sports she was surprised at how strong Miller is and how good of a natural wrestling base she had. Simpson, a BJJ brown belt and MMA fighter for Legacy FC, said Miller “picks up on things quickly.”
“Women see this combative sport as solely masculine, very manly. It is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in there and kick some ass, too.”
“I think she’s gonna do well going forward with competing, just adding that technique,” Simpson said. “She’s improving very quickly.
Miller’s goal is to bust all the stereotypes surrounding beauty queens and act as a role model for younger girls. She plans on keeping people updated with her journey on YouTube.
“You can do it all,” Miller said. “Women see this combative sport as solely masculine, very manly. It is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in there and kick some ass, too.”
She came away super impressed by Rousey and Tate, a fight Rousey won by armbar in the second round.
“I thought it was awesome,” Miller said. “They’re both absolutely beautiful and completely talented. … I want to let that pageant side down, not worry about what I’m looking like. As soon as you worry about what you’re looking like in jiu-jitsu, you get choked out. Or in MMA, you’re getting knocked out.”
Miller won’t be in the UFC anytime soon, obviously. Not only is she extremely inexperienced, but she also is 105 pounds. The UFC has women’s divisions at 135 pounds and just added one at 115.
But, hey, maybe by the time Miller is ready, there will be an opportunity for her in the big show.
“Every time I watch [MMA],” she said, “it gives me a little push toward making the crossover.”