I recently sat down with 15 year old Amateur MMA Fighter, Sophia Mirabella. I've been planning to interview Sophia for a long time, and was delighted and excited to visit her at her school, Tiger Schulmanns in Chelsea, NYC. Sophia's laser focus, poise, intelligence, and dedication to her career and her discipline at such a young age, is to be admired. She embodies everything ATTAGIRL stands for, and never hesitates to display the "non quitting spirit" the TSMMA culture prides itself on. Sophia's next fight is April 15th, at Mulcahy’s : English Invasion Kickboxing April 15 @ 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm. Tickets are available, here.
Follow Sophia on Instagram here: @sophia._mirabella
How long have you been fighting, and how did you get into Martial Arts? I got into martial arts through the support of my aunt. I was 7 years old when she took me for my first class in the Tiger Schulmann’s that just opened near where we lived and I’ve been training ever since. I’ve been fighting as an amateur since early 2017.
Were you an athlete before or have you ever played any other sports? I swim and can play soccer, but never really got into sports teams growing up.
When I came to see you fight (and further dominate) at the Capitale in an exhibition fight, you looked sharp and really comfortable. Can you walk us through what you do to prepare mind, body and soul? 6 Weeks Out, 3 Weeks, week of? I felt very comfortable going into the fight, especially because my first pre-fight nerves were calmed when I did Rise Submission Invitational a few months before the Capitale. Making weight really wasn’t an issue for that fight since I was below the limit, so that was at least one thing out of the way.
6 weeks before the fight, I prepared a training schedule that focused more on kickboxing and incorporated venturing into other Tiger schools over the course of the week. I scheduled my training around classes with Sensei Good, Sensei Rivera, Sensei Arce, and Joshu Shane to get the most lessons I could, and I also picked partners that were close to my prospective opponent’s style and size (my original opponent was a lefty - they changed my actual opponent on the day of the fight, no big deal though).
3 weeks before the fight, I lessened my grappling classes and focused more on kickboxing. I couldn’t really put my focus towards anywhere else other than the fight and my studies because even though I was fighting, I also still had school, homework, and tests to deal with. In a way, that helped me stay on track and avoid distraction. I kept company with friends that understood and supported my priorities, and since most of them are training partners too it made things that much easier for me to stay the course.
The toughest part for me in all of this was being told not to train 3 days before the actual fight. Training is such a big part of my daily routine that being instructed not to felt like I was going through withdrawals. Sensei Good called it “the caged animal effect” where all of my energy would be bottled up for the day of battle, and I only fully understood what that meant on the day of the fight, stepping into that ring and letting go of all that saved energy from not training.
Where would you like to see your career go? I definitely want to work my way towards the UFC Strawweight Belt by no later than age 27-29, which means I need to really get into the circuit and stay active in the fighting industry as early as now and turn pro on or before turning 20. As a supplementary career after fighting, I want to take up a course related to sports medicine or body mechanics in college so I can still make residual income long after retiring.
Any significant women you look up to? Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Claressa Shields, and Helen Maroulis
Favorite fighter? Demetrious Johnson
Are there any obstacles you have had to overcome to get closer to your goal? I’m sure many more will come along the way as I grow into the fighting industry, but right now the biggest challenge for me is really just perfecting the balance between academics and training, as well as the financial backing that goes along with it.
Is it hard to remain committed to your sport, do well in school, and maintain some sort of social life? Honestly, the balance itself is a little bit challenging to maintain — but once I find the rhythm I’m able to work with it smoothly. It also helps that most of my friends are training partners who understand the type of time I need to invest in order to improve, and they help me as I go. I’m pretty blessed to have highly supportive friends and family.
One bad habit you want to get rid of: Sleeping dumb late more often than I’d like to admit.
One good habit you hope to pick up: Sleeping on time consistently.
One sentence or phrase to share with women around the world: "If you limit yourself only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that’s left is mediocre compromise." - Anaïs Nin
Favorite music to warm up/workout to?