Katie Howard: The hometown fighter’s kryptonite

When the Vanguard last spoke with G.I.R.L.S. gym mixed martial artist Katie “Kryptonite” Howard she was preparing for a fight with Glena Avila at the Roseland for the Full Contact Fighting Federation. Avila was the subject of a recent documentary, so there was considerable hype going into the fight.

However, I expected Howard to tear through Avila, and that is just what Howard did. The only problem was that the judges did not see it the way the Full Contact Fighting Federation’s own commentators did. If you watch the YouTube video of the fight, the commentators firmly believe that Katie Howard won the fight.

I do not know what fight the referees were watching, but their split decision was one of the worst calls I have seen. These judges need to be given a stern talking to, and perhaps a refresher course on what it means to be effective in the cage. Other than coming forward (cage control), and causing a cut, I’m not sure what else Avila did to merit victory.

Howard had a quick turnaround from this travesty, this time rematching Reagan Benedetti, a tough Washington-based fighter. Benedetti got the better of Howard the first time they fought, but the last fight had numerous amateur restrictions, including a rule stipulating fighters must wear shin pads. Howard landed kicks at will in that fight, but the shin pads did not allow for maximum damage.

Oddly enough, kicks did not come into play in the rematch. Howard made the fight look easy, and was constantly jumping in and out with strikes, causing Benedetti to appear to be swatting at flies, as Howard’s footwork was too much for Benedetti. Howard did get taken down once with a nice throw, but quickly got back to her feet and worked Benedetti to the ground. After smothering Benedetti like a blanket from half-guard, Howard was able to work her way to Benedetti’s back, forcing Benedetti to succumb to the rear naked choke. This win elevated Howard to a 2–1 professional record.

With less than two weeks until the May 30 Conquest of the Cage event outside Spokane, Howard and G.I.R.L.S. gym head trainer Sarah Orizah were happy to shoot the breeze with the Vanguard regarding the fight. A fight where, if the numerous UFC fighters on Phillips’ team SikJitsu are any indication, the winner will be on the Ultimate Fighting Championships short list of fighters deserving a shot at the big show.

Statements have been edited for clarity.

Mike Bivins: It’s good to see you again Katie, especially since you are fresh off that huge CageSport win. You made it look easy.

Katie Howard: Thanks!

MB: You are moving up in weight from 115 pounds to fight Spokane, Washington-based Elizabeth Phillips at 130lbs (3-1 Pro MMA), do you get to eat anything extra, or do you eat the same foods just in larger amounts?

KH: I eat more protein, and I get to actually eat some bread. Other than that I eat the same clean food I normally eat.

MB: How did you feel when they announced Avila as the winner by split decision?

KH: I was disappointed because I thought the fight was actually going to be tough, so we knew I won. Before they announced the split decision, the other team looked dejected, and looked like they had just lost a fight. If they end up calling about a rematch, I would tell Sarah to go start the car.

MB: Were you nervous about rematching Reagan?

KH: The only thing I was worried about was not improving since our last fight. My biggest fear as a mixed martial artist is of stagnating.

MB: The fighters generally touch gloves when the referee gives fighters their last minute instructions in the center of the ring. How do you feel about the extra touch of gloves that usually occurs when the fight begins?

KH: I don’t like any of that, and I especially hate when my opponent hugs me after the fight. We aren’t here to be friends, we are here to fight.

MB: Does G.I.R.L.S. bring in outside fighters to train with, or is your training done in house?

KH: I just spar with everyone at G.I.R.L.S.

Orizah lets us know that G.I.R.L.S. gym has a policy of no intercamp training. If a fighter wants to train with G.I.R.L.S, they have to officially join the team and cease training with their old team. She feels a conflict of interest can develop if a fighter from another camp were to spar with Howard, then divulge information to training partners who might fight Howard one day.

MB: Would you ever fight a man at 115 pounds?

KH: I would love to! I’ve grappled men at tournaments and won, so I would have no problem with that.

MB: After this next fight, what’s next?

KH: I’d like to rematch Robin Woods, but especially Emily Corso. I should also be fighting on the CageSport in July.

Corso and Howard fought twice as amateurs in 2013, the first fight ending with Howard losing at the last second by armbar.

Orizah reveals that Howard was a month removed from knee surgery that was a result of a horrible staph infection, and that Corso had it easy for the second fight. Coincidentally, this also happens to be the last time Corso has fought.

Orizah also feels that Howard’s submission wrestling has improved vastly. The Vanguard was on hand to witness her winning efforts at the recent Sub League. Where Howard cruised to three first place finishes.

May 30 is shaping up to be a fantastic night of fights, as Howard again plays spoiler to the hometown favorite. A situation she is all too familiar with, even when fighting in her hometown of Portland.

Lastly, Howard mentions that it was crazy at the Benedetti fight when people came up to her saying that she got robbed by the hometown girl, because Avila had only been in Portland for a few years.