Invicta FC 33 goes down this Saturday night. The card boasts some recognizable figures from across women’s MMA, including Invicta Atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey, who defends her belt in a rematch versus Minna Grusander. Also on the card is UFC vet Daniele Taylor who faces the undefeated Montserrat Ruiz.
But the card kicks off with two women who are yet to make their mark on the sport; flyweights Chantel Coates and Ashlynn Kleinbeck. They’ll be facing each other in their professional MMA debuts.
Coates works in logistic control for an artillery brigade within the Missouri National Guard. She’s also works for the military as a gymnastics instructor.
Her martial arts and combat sports journey started with Muay Thai. She said she was drawn to that sport because of her passion for MMA, WWE, and a desire to get into a fight.
“I started late in the game,” said Coates to Bloody Elbow before explaining she was 25-years-old when she noticed a group of MMA fighters going at it in her gym. “I just went up to them and asked if I could go fight with them.”
Hard sparring followed and Coates was hooked. She started with Muay Thai as a way to learn MMA, but ended up competing in that discipline for the next few years. While that was happening she was also beginning to appreciate wrestling, which her sons were participating in at school.
After learning to strike and wrestle, Brazilian jiu jitsu was a logical next step. After she’d tried all these elements of MMA, she wanted a chance to show what she could do with them.
Coates amateur MMA debut came in January, 2016, but it didn’t last long. Coates’ first fight went all of 24 seconds. She won via TKO. This August, after a slew of cancelled fights, Coates eventually got her second ammy bout, which she won via unanimous decision.
Two months later Coates fought again. She wasn’t able to stay undefeated, though — after losing to Byelka Soto by submission. But now, just two months later, she’s said she feels ready to shake off that last loss and start her professional MMA career with a win.
When asked what she learned over her amateur career Coates said, “I guess what I would take away from it, is to just to fight my fight. Be aware of my opponents, but always just stick with what I know I am best at and capitalize at where their mistakes are at. I think that’s what I have learned the most.”
Though pro MMA is a new experience for Coates, one aspect of her forthcoming fight is somewhat familiar. Her opponent, Ashlynn Kleinbeck — who hails from neighbouring Kansas, is no stranger.
“This is the fourth time trying to get this fight,” revealed Coates. “We tried to fight twice as amateurs and one time for pro, but she got hurt.”
Thanks to the repeated bookings, Coates has had ample opportunities to study Kleinbeck. “She’s more of a ground person,” she said. “She likes to go to the ground, but I don’t feel like she’s strong with takedowns and I think I have really good footwork and it’s going to be easy to move around her.”
Coates said her footwork is one of the strongest facets of her overall game. Coates added that head movement, fast hands, strength and pace are also on her list of “best attributes”.
And she’s hoping to show all of that on Saturday night. “My goal is to just give it all in there. Sometimes in my amateur fights I kind of backed off or I didn’t really finish it. I really want to finish this fight. I just want to finish it and give it my all. Stand my ground and progress forward.”
Coates said she’s confident her skill-set is superior to Kleinbeck’s. However, she thinks her intangibles are what will give her the greatest advantage in the Invicta cage.
“I work very hard,” stated Coates. “I have worked so much for this and I’m ready to display it; to display my hard work and the process it took me to get here. And I don’t think anyone has put in as much effort as I have. That’s just me speaking on my own beliefs, I don’t know what she’s doing to prepare. I’m assuming she’s coming prepared — I hope she is, but I’ve been preparing years. I haven’t taken any breaks. I just keep fighting and fighting and training and learning.”
You can see if Coates’ hard work is enough to earn a victory on Saturday night by tuning into Invicta FC 33. The event, which takes place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, MO, airs live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 10:00 PM ET.