Almighty FC kicks off the new year with AFC 22 in Houghton Le Spring on January 22nd. Almighty FC’s first-ever Atomweight bout between amateurs Michaela Petaroudi and Nicola Knight is on this card. I sat down with Petaroudi before her MMA debut in less than two weeks and discussed her martial arts background, PhD studies, and relocating from Greece to Scotland.
Interview With Michaela Petaroudi
Firstly thank you for your time today, how are you feeling only a matter of days out from your MMA debut?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I’m really excited for my debut, I’ve been looking forward to it since the day I got matched with Nicola Knight. Training has been good although with the pandemic and with Christmas and everything being in the middle of my fight camp it’s not what you would call a normal camp. I’ve been training consistently and I’m feeling ready. Scotland has been quite strict throughout the pandemic, England seemed to open up a lot quicker than here and even when we opened it was only allowed to train in bubbles. I did take the fight with all of this in mind so I’m doing everything I can to mitigate the impact that the pandemic and the lockdowns have.”
So you’re originally from Greece and you have now relocated to Glasgow, Scotland. Tell me the story of how you ended up there?
Michaela Petaroudi –“I first moved to Scotland when I was 17 to study for my undergraduate degree, I originally went to Sterling and was there for four years completing my undergraduate. Then I was offered a PhD position in Glasgow and I’ve recently just completed this and earned my PhD in Bio-Medical Engineering! I’m currently working on a contract in my field in Glasgow so we will see what’s next.”
How did you find balancing studying for your PhD, which is no easy task, and training martial arts?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I’ve always tried to treat my PhD studies like it’s a job, I would always go in at eight o’clock in the lab, do all my lab work and office work and then be home for around five or six o’clock. Generally, after everything I would have time to go to the gym and train, I’m quite good at organizing things so I’d say it’s not limited to my training at all. At first, I just treat MMA as my hobby but then when I realized I enjoyed it and wanted to fight it all just fit together perfectly.”
What are the main differences you’ve encountered relocating from Greece to Scotland?
Petaroudi – “It depends how you look at things I suppose, the main reaction I get from people here when they learn I moved over from Greece is ‘Why did you come here, was it for the weather?!’. Originally I come from a small town in the mountains of Greece and there is a ski centre nearby so we don’t get weather any different from Scotland, maybe just a little bit more sunshine! I think the people are quite similar too, Scottish and Greek people are welcoming and polite, at least in my experience so it’s been very easy to adjust here.”
Tell me about how you started out in martial arts, what did you start with and when?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I started when I was 19, at the time I was in Sterling so I joined the Muay Thai club there. I was doing Muay Thai recreationally a couple of times a week but I enjoyed it so when I moved to Glasgow I joined New Life Gym who offered MMA and BJJ as well. It took me a while to start jiu-jitsu for some reason, I never looked at it in the same way as striking but when I started I really enjoyed it. In 2020 I decided to combine the striking and grappling and go into MMA, so I am quite new in MMA!”
Are you a fan of MMA or have you just followed a natural progression of training striking and grappling then into MMA?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I think both! I do enjoy watching MMA and I do follow MMA but I just love watching martial arts in general. Having a Muay Thai background I started there and when I started training jiu-jitsu I got really into watching that, I would just say I love martial arts in general.”
You started with Muay Thai and recently got your blue belt in BJJ, where do you feel your strengths are in terms of your fight skills? How do you feel you match against your opponent?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I would say I’m well-rounded as a fighter because I’ve had my striking background but I’ve enjoyed jiu-jitsu for the few years I’ve been training and feel my ground game is strong. I think I need to get some experience in MMA before I can say I’m a mixed martial artist. I have not actually really looked into my opponent’s game and that’s because I want to focus on my game. Since this is my first fight, I’d like the fight to go where I feel that it should go and I don’t want to have a fight plan in my mind, I just want to explore how I feel in the cage and take it from there.”
What are your long term goals in terms of your MMA career?
Michaela Petaroudi – “I feel that my plans will start once I get this first fight done. I want to see how I feel in the actual cage, in the gym I feel great and I enjoy training, but in terms of MMA career goals you’ll have to ask me before my second fight, we’ll see how this one goes first.”
Featured image credits to Almighty Fighting Championship