LINDSEY VANZANDT talks about upcoming RENA KUBOTA rematch

QUEEN MMA – MEDIA 

LINDSEY VANZANDT vs RENA KUBOTA – The REMATCH

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LINDSEY “Damsel” VANZANDT continues her dynamic climb to the summit of the Atomweight mountain.  

(QUEEN MMA Media) – Lindsey VanZandt (7 – 2) and Rena Kubota (9 – 3) first collided in June of 2019 at Bellator 222 under the lights at Madison Square Garden.  The bout began with exciting stand up exchanges and ended with VanZandt taking control on the ground and putting Kubota asleep via choke.  All by the 4:04 mark of round one.  On December 31, 2019 VanZandt will travel to the other side of the world to face Kubota once more, however this time in her own backyard (Japan).

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RENA KUBOTA waiting for the start of round one in their first encounter at Madison Square Garden for Bellator 222.  Photo Credit – Esther / MMA Fighting

Tommy Vickers of QUEEN MMA Media got the pleasure and opportunity to chat with top atomweight Lindsey “Damsel” VanZandt leading into her upcoming MMA rematch with Japan shoot boxing sensation Rena Kubota.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “In your first bout with Rena you gained an amazing victory via choke in the first round. Big congrats to you! How did the win feel?  And to top it off it was at MSG.  Most fighters can only dream of getting the opportunity to fight at Madison Square Garden, Congrats to you.”

​Lindsey VanZandtGetting my hand raised in the middle of MSG was a feeling words can’t do justice. Beating one of the best fighters from Japan, and getting recognized as one of the top 25 professional Atomweight’s in the world felt right. I knew going into that fight with Rena, the only ones who believed I was walking away the winner was my coaches, my family and my management. Sean Rockwell (Manager – Prime Elite Management) even predicted I would finish her in the first via submission.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “How did it feel to rumble in a venue that has become a sports icon?”

​Lindsey VanZandtMSG is historical for so many reasons, and to be able to compete there, with over 100 of my friends and family there, was absolutely magical.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “How are you feeling going into this fight?”​

Lindsey VanZandt – “I feel great! I have enhanced my Muay Thai thanks to Stockade Muay Thai; I have improved my Jiu Jitsu under Brian McGlaughlin and Precision MMA; My strength is at its peak thanks to Kings of Fitness. I am more ready then I ever have been.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “How do you feel about fighting for Rizin?” ​

Lindsey VanZandt – “Given the opportunity to fight in Japan and for Rizin is a surreal feeling. Some of the biggest names in the industry have fought in Japan. I grow up on older UFC and Pride VHS videos, and now I get to be a part of this legacy. The staff at Rizin has been nothing but welcoming, professional and cooperative as we prepare for this trip. Additionally, it was Shannon Knapp and Invicta FC that helped my manager setting this all up and giving their blessing for me to take this huge opportunity.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “Are you excited about going to Japan?​”

Lindsey VanZandt – “100% This will be the first time I have ever traveled internationally, and I get to go with two (2) of my coaches who are also great friends.

Tommy V. (QUEEN MMA Media) – “It is my understanding that Rena considered the outcome of the first fight to be a fluke.  Is this the reason you agreed to the rematch?”

​Lindsey VanZandt – “My management, coaches and I all agree that Rena does not deserve a rematch, however being able to go to Japan and beat her convincingly (again) in her ring and in front of her fans will be nice. Her and her camp feeling this way is frustrating, but I am ready to make a statement. Sometimes you need to admit to yourself that you lost and just try and get better. Its stupid to lie to yourself.”

Tommy V. – “Some people may say because you won the fight the first time around you have very little to gain and more to lose a second time around.  How do you see it?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “It is true, there is more risk than reward for this rematch. With that said, this fight will bring my name and face to a whole new audience… as well as quiet the doubters who want to use, “the cage”, “jet lag”, etc. as an excuse.

Tommy V. – “I have followed your career from your early amateur days. With a black belt tae kwon do background you have always had good striking. Today your striking in my opinion has evolved to become extremely good. Timing, movement, footwork, range, angles it all seems to be coming together for you.  I consider Rena to be a highly intelligent striker. Going into your first match up with Rena I was interested in the striking match up and how the stand up would play out. I figured you would start out early and test the stand up against Rena and then if needed or if the opportunity came up you would take it to the ground. This seems to be the way it played out in your first encounter.  Is this how you see it?” ​

Lindsey VanZandt – “I think Rena is a very dangerous opponent, especially in her striking, however, I feel I got the best of the stand up in the first bout and plan on showing my KO power in this fight.”

Tommy V. – “Did the first fight against Rena at MSG go as you had planned?” ​

Lindsey VanZandt – “Yes. Everything my coaches and manager put together in the plans went how it was written. It could not have gone more perfect.”

Tommy V. – “You delivered a strong first round finish the first time around.  Do you feel she may have taken you lightly in the first match up?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​I am not sure if she was taking me lightly or not; I think what happened was her weakness got exposed.”

Tommy V. – “Do you feel she may have perhaps neglected doing her homework on you before the bout?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “No. I am sure as a professional, she and her team did all the homework they could. Last New Year’s Eve I was offered a fight in Japan against her and her team turned it down. Maybe she came in over confident.”

Tommy V. – “I noticed two things in the first fight and both Rena and you may disagree. The first thing I noticed was she may have surprised you a little with her accuracy and hand speed in the stand up exchanges. The second thing I noticed was she seemed surprised by your physical strength when entangled or grappling.  Is this something you noticed? Or did you see it different?”

​Lindsey VanZandt – “I wouldn’t say surprised, but she does have fast hands. Idk if she was surprised or didn’t know how to handle it. I work really hard at Kings of Fitness with my strength and conditioning coaches.”

Tommy V. – “In your first bout versus Rena you both exchanged some brief stand up striking moments early before the action went to the ground. If I may be forward with you it looked as if she may have clipped you with a right hand shot which got your attention and moved you towards seeking a take down.  Would you agree or disagree? Why?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “She did clip me with a nice cross, but that’s really it. I stuck to the game plan. Why wouldn’t I take the fight where I have an advantage?

Tommy V. – “Were you surprised with Rena’s stand up game? Or was it pretty much what you expected?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​I wasn’t surprised at all. I knew going into the fight that Rena is a skilled and decorated striker.”

Tommy V. – “I think you fought a smart fight the first time. I think you saw the moment, nailed it, and closed the show. You were ruthless with your efforts to secure the choke. You saw your moment and simply refused to let it slip away. It was a big win for you.  It was Rena’s first time in a cage. In my opinion I think the cage played a noticeable part in her loss.  I may be incorrect with this view and Rena and yourself may or may not agree with me, but it appeared she had little experience fighting with her back flat against a cage.  It would seem logical for her to have taken into consideration the cage and perhaps trained with a cage to prepare.  This I am not sure about.  However I do think she quickly realized her movement options had been noticeably reduced compared to the ring ropes she is accustomed to. The ropes and the cage are two very different monsters, as most fighters will agree who have had the opportunity to have experienced both. I believe Rena may not have considered the impact of the cage and how it would affect her skill set and defensive strategy.  Would you agree? Or do you see it differently and how so?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​I don’t believe the cage played a significant advantage. I secured takedowns without the cage assistance. I also think it will be easier in a ring.”

Tommy V. – “The rematch in Japan may or may not be different. Had you pinned Rena against Rizin ring ropes the first time rather then a cage the motion of the action may have progressed in a different direction.  Fighters can push or bull an opponent and get the strong support of the cage to re-enforce their control over their opponent. The control factor is considerably weakened when holding an opponent against ring ropes. I understand you gained your final take down with Rena’s back free from the cage. There is no question your ability to scramble for position is most credible, yet it seemed to some people her game plan and focus was already shaken by the early engagements against the cage.  Have you taken into consideration how the ropes of the Rizin ring will affect your game plan? Or is this something you feel will not be a factor?” ​

Lindsey VanZandt – “I think everything is a factor, the ropes, the ring, the allowance to through knees and kicks to the head of a downed opponent. However, even with those factors in play, my game plan has been and is being developed with them in mind. I am not concerned even a little.”

Tommy V. – Do you have experience fighting in a ring with ring ropes?

Lindsey VanZandt – “I have experience in a Muay Thai stand point, and we have been training in a ring only leading up to this fight.”

Tommy V. – “And do you see it possibly forcing you into more standup exchanges?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​I do not think the ring and the ropes will affect my game plan at all. I am excited to exchange in the standup and show my evolution as a complete MMA fighter.

Tommy V. – “Rizin is a different jungle with different rules. Head and face stomps, knees to the head while on the ground, ring corners, and several other things are all fair game at Rizin.  Do you see this being a factor in the rematch?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​I don’t know if these will be a factor or not, but I hope so. Being allowed to legally soccer kick is something I have always wanted… and now I am able to. It also opens up a lot of offense in which you would normally be scared because an accidental illegal fault.”

Tommy V. – “In your first bout with Rena she began implementing her standard attack mode, moving forward, backing her opponent up, and landing surprisingly quick strikes. Some may feel and I agree, a key to beating Rena is forcing her to fight while backing up. Few have been able to do this. Or perhaps set up a perfect strike. Her other weakness, some may feel, is being forced to fight on the ground. I believe you have a sizable edge if the battle goes to the ground as you proved in the first encounter.  How do you see the match up if it goes to the ground?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “To most people’s surprise to know, Rena has a good submission game. However, if this fight goes to the ground, I WILL FINISH HER.”

Tommy V. – “You did manage to land some clean shots in the early part of round one, how would you evaluate and grade your stand up in the first fight against Rena?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “​If I had to grade myself, I would give it a B-, I am the toughest critic on myself, but I think I was able to implement my plan from the opening bell, to when she passed out. Also, staying calm and confident in such a big arena. All thanks to my mental coach Rob Dawson with Mind Sport Consulting.”

Tommy V. – “You are a confident and determined fighter and I know you enjoy stand up action. I am sure you will be gunning for a KO. Often fighters can get caught up into seeking the stand up battle and forget or willingly ignore the ground game in an effort to show the world they can out strike a striker. You have become a smart fighter and have shown on numerous occasions your alertness and ability to find the weak link in an opponent.  Are you going to take the win when it shows itself? Or do you see yourself looking to try and win a striking battle?”

​Lindsey VanZandt – “I plan on taking the fight and win however it goes. I am not looking for a submission, I am not looking for a KO, I believe they come and I will get the finish.”

Tommy V. – “What can the fans expect to see from you in the rematch​?”

Lindsey VanZandt – “FIRE… There will NOT be a judge’s decision in this fight, there will be a finish.

Tommy V. – “How do you see the fight playing out?”

​Lindsey VanZandt – “I see this fight going similar as to the first fight, I will dictate where this fight goes, when it goes there and how it gets there. I see me standing in the middle of the Rizin ring getting my hand raised and gaining the respect of the entire crowd.”

There is no question VanZandt is confident and ready to put on a show in front of the large Saitama Super Arena crowd.  This is going to be an exciting fight.  Lindsey VanZandt is an amazing fighter and in my opinion has proven herself to be one of the top atomweights in the pro MMA fight game.

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By: T. Vickers (MMA – Journalist)

QUEEN MMA MEDIA

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