20-year-old Collins steals MMA show on Combat Night
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
A few days before her scheduled debut as a mixed martial arts fighter, Betty Collins had a baffled look about her.
Even her trainer Joe Burtoft couldn’t predict exactly how his latest protégé would perform when she got into the octagon.
“I don’t know, but my work is done,” Burtoft said. “We will find out.”
Collins, a 20-year-old from Cairo, Ga., cleared up any doubt with a dominating performance that wowed the crowd at The Moon this past Saturday night. She scored a unanimous three-round decision over Vinita Patel.
The fight was one of 11 presented by Combat Night promoters.
Not only did Collins’ win convince the crowd that she has the talent to develop into an elite female fighter, but her performance won the approval of her mother. The throng of fans who followed her from her hometown seemingly enjoyed it too.
“I had no idea,” Dewanda Collins said. “Not in something like this.”
Collins showed more skills than expected from someone who got into the sport six months ago.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I trained real hard for this and now I’ve got the win.”
Collins took the fight to Patel from the opening bell, hammering her with lefts and rights, flooring her early in the round. With 10 second left in the round, she was still punching away with Papel on her back.
It was more of the same in the second round. So much so that Collins seemed to be resting while pinning Patel to the canvas.
“I was just waiting it out,” she said. “I didn’t want to give all I had at one time. I didn’t want to overdo myself.”
She eventually responded to pleas from conditioning coach Curtis Williams to punch.
“My trainer told me let it go,” Collins said. “That’s that lion and that mean girl he hadn’t seen.”
Even promoter Mitch Chamale wants to see more, promising to bring her back for the next Combat Night. Collins wasn’t expecting any of that when she was discovered by Williams.
Williams said he encouraged her to try MMA because of her commitment to weightlifting workouts at Gold’s Gym. She’d only begin her workout to give her body a resemblance of her favorite bodybuilder, she said.
“Muscular women were my inspiration so that’s why I started weight lifting,” Collins said. “Once I started with MMA and I saw I had potential and it gave me more motivation.”
Not long after meeting Collins, Williams introduced her to Burtoft, who is known for molding Josh Samman into a national star before his untimely death.
“When I first met her, I said do you want to do this because you’re going to get kicked, elbowed and kneed to the face,” Burtoft said. “She said absolutely and I want to do that to other people too.”
During her preparation for Saturday’s fight, Collins had to spar with men because of a shortage of local females in the sport. She never complained.
“It’s a great stress relievers,” she said. “It’s kind of my hobby, really.”