When Fatima Kline arrived for her first professional match, the first thing that struck her was the name of the venue she was competing in.
It’s a place called “The Fight Church” in Kansas City, with stained glass windows. A suitable arena for a fighter with the nickname “Archangel”.
“Making my professional debut in a church meant more to me than I could ever describe,” Kline said. “My nickname being ‘The Archange’ and the fighting in the ‘Fight Church’ made the whole experience surreal for me. What a story!”
And despite all the religious vibe, in the end, his opponent was the one who needed the prayers.
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Kline defeated Ariana Melendez by submission in three minutes in her first professional fight, competing for the Invicta Fighting Championships. It was a victory in late May that sparked excitement and a wave of emotions for the Hyde Park grappler, who said she did not approach the game with a feeling of nervousness.
Staying focused, calm and collected while sticking to the game plan was her secret to success. And, she will continue to voraciously train for her next Invicta fight, which she hopes will take place in the months to come.
“I just got a notice from Invicta who will hopefully hold a card in August or September,” Kline explained. “I don’t know exactly who my opponent would be. But if I practice, correct all the mistakes I made and go straight back to the MMA cage, I’m happy.
Kline signed a professional contract with Invicta Fighting Championships, an all-female mixed martial arts promotion, in October. The 20-year-old won the contract after a considerable number of victories in amateur MMA and jiu-jitsu events.
All of this led her to her first professional match, at “The Fight Church”, where she didn’t feel much trepidation before stepping into the cage – even though the event was broadcast on AXS TV and YouTube, where more than 260, 00 viewers Tue.
“I felt like I was supposed to be there. It was natural, it was real, ”said Kline, a former student of Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. “I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone, I didn’t feel out of place at all.”
When the bell rang, Kline bombarded Melendez, immediately bringing him to the web. She went to work on her on her left arm, keeping Melendez overpowered on her back while throwing bursts of punches. Kline eventually cradled his opponent and locked in a choke in the back, forcing Melendez to tap 180 seconds into the fight.
After Kline briefly rejoiced over the victory, her trainer, Mike Wacker, entered the cage and kissed her.
Wacker trains Kline at Black-Hole Jiu-Jitsu Gymnasium in Wappingers Falls, and he said his student executed the game plan to perfection.
“I didn’t have any corrections other than one thing she did when she was on the ground and it’s just because I was picky,” he said. “It was as perfect as it gets. But that’s just the kind of person she is. Whenever I’ve got her ready for a match or fight, she’s been able to take what she’s doing in the practice room and translate it perfectly for the match or fight. He’s a special talent.
To prepare for his next fight, Kline plans to continue training, working on “the little things” and correcting minor mistakes.
Her training always involves the practice of grappling, hitting and wrestling, and she adheres to a strict schedule. However, her preparation is increasingly nuanced and she “examines smaller aspects of the sport” for improvement.
“I’m definitely getting to the heart of the matter,” Kline said. “Find these mistakes I’m making and correct them now, so when I get back to the cage I’m even better than the first time.”
Wacker said he would try to schedule jiu-jitsu matches in between to keep her active and lively. And with his first professional win under his belt, he expects bigger and better things for Kline in the future.
“She’s going to go far. It really is, ”Wacker said. “It was great to see all of his hard work pay off. This is only the first step among many.