Erin Harpe is fresh off her first amateur MMA fight, defeating Yarlyn Gonzalez by unanimous decision at the August 16th Florida Championship Fighting event. She’s already made a name for herself, competing in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship this year and coming back home with the gold from the 72kg Blue Belt division. I interviewed the 20 year old Royce Gracie Purple Belt to ask her thoughts on her first fight, what training is like and what lies ahead.
Ryan Bradbury: Okay, your first amateur MMA fight was last week, how does it feel to have your entry in the MMA world start with a win?
Erin Harpe: It was awesome being able to step into the cage. I was anticipating it for months, since I was originally going to debut in February, but then got injured so i had to pull out of that. then, I had Abu Dhabi and worlds to compete in, so i had to take time off MMA for those as well. I feel like this last fight was perfect timing though, because my cardio was on point, and although i was super nervous, I kept my composure, and I was actually comfortable striking, so all those months of training paid off.
Do you plan on concentrating on MMA now that or do you see yourself continuing to compete in grappling events?
I will be concentrating on MMA more, but as long as the tournaments don’t conflict with my fights, I won’t stop competing. I love Jiu Jitsu, and competing is my “fun time”. I may not be doing as many of the IBJJF tournaments as I’ve done in the past, but I’ll be doing the bigger events. For instance, I’m scheduled to fight in October, and i will also be competing in No-Gi Pans this September.
Well good luck with both of those! Outside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, what does your training consist of week to week?
Thank You! So our coach, Matt Arroyo, has our fight team on a Monday – Saturday schedule. The schedule consists of; Muay Thai, wrestling, Boxing, and BJJ training, as well as sparring,and strength and condition. I train about 4 hours a day.
Wow that’s a full schedule, now you’ve recently moved down to Gracie Tampa to train correct?
Yes, I moved down here last August, and it’s been the best decision I ever made.
I finally meet Rob Kahn this summer, and I can say he definitely lives up to the hype. How has training with him and the coaches down there improved you game?
Hobby K (Rob’s nickname) is awesome! He built such a strong organization here filled with amazing black belts and practitioners. That man is a jiu jitsu genius lol he really breaks every technique down for you and simplifies it.
I have to agree, and while I only got to try one class with him while I was down in Tampa but he breaks situations down very well.
now, i do train with Matt Arroyo full time, who is also a mat genius. He was on the ultimate fighter on the Serra vs. Hughes season, so he knows exactly was the UFC is looking for. His only mission as a coach is to do anything he can to train and help us reach our ultimate goal, to become UFC champions. He has complete faith in us, so we must treat training seriously. Matt is one of the best coaches I’ve worked with.
Yes I remember when he was on that season, he did very well.
Your Father, Royce Gracie Black Belt James Harpe is the head coach at Gracie Agawam, he has to be very proud of you, seeing you follow in his footsteps. Is coaching something you see yourself doing, or do you want to concentrate on fighting now?
Yes, I definitely would love to become an instructor and open my own academy, but that’s 10 years down the road. Right now, I’m focused on getting better in MMA so i can transition into the UFC (in a couple of years), and to continue to excel in BJJ. And yes my father is very proud. He never misses a fight or tournament.
It has to be great to see women’s MMA, especially in the UFC make gains in popularity. Is there anyone in the sport you look up to in particular?
Yes for sure, its a blessing for us female fighters. I look up Ronda Rousey as far as her talent, determination, and heart for this sport. I think her attitude sometimes puts a negative image onto women’s MMA. However, a woman i do idolize is Miriam Nakamoto. She is an amazing fighter who fights in the Invicta FC . She’s not in the UFC yet, but she will be. She very talented, and we share similar headstrong mindsets. I also love Holly Holms. Shes just a natural beasts lol.
I agree, Ronda’s comment on beating any women in BJJ didn’t win her any fans. So does That mean some judo in your future?
Not really… I’m not a huge judo fan. I learning take downs through wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, judo is a beautiful art, but it’s not my cup of tea lol.
Okay just one more question I wanted to ask you about the fight. Your opponent was changed at the last minute correct? Did that play with your nerves at all?
Only slightly. I really wanted to fight, and the girl who didn’t show to weigh ins was the 3rd opponent who backed out, so I was ready to fight anyone at that point. I worked too hard and waited too long to not have a fight. that’s why i have so much respect for Yarlyn, who took the fight on 24 hours notice. Not many women would do that
Wow, that’s not an easy thing to do.