As a girl growing up, Stephanie Eggink, 21 played soccer, ran track and even tried golf. They were fun sports, but still there was something missing.
Then she found boxing. She studied boxing for about three years, before joining the U.S. Olympic National Team where she became the United States amateur national champion and competed for the US in the Pan American Games in Equador. Her amateur boxing record was an outstanding (11-1) when she turned pro. As a pro she went (1-0-1).
In January 2009, Eggink began attending WCFC (West Coast Fight Club). Upon joining this gym, she was introduced to the world of MMA fighting.
She retired from professional boxing, and now focuses all her training on mixed martial arts. Eggink says she experienced too many politics in boxing and too much arrogance. "MMA is a much more humble than boxing," Eggink says. "In boxing it takes just your hands, in MMA it takes your entire body. You have to give it all."
Her coach at WCFC is Cody Houston he has been coaching her since she first came to the gym and is responsible for introducing her to the other styles of fighting that are part of MMA. Eggink’s training at WCFC has helped shape her into a better fighter, he said.“We’ve taken her to the next level of athletics,” Houston said. “She’s beating people that have been doing it twice as long as her, and [in the gym] that is pretty exciting.”
When I asked Stephanie about her jiu jitsu she said, " I feel just as comfortable on the ground as I do standing up." She has proven that with her dominaion on the ground in her first two fights.
Eggink says one of her biggest challenges in MMA is overcoming the stereotypes of women's sports.
She says comments always surface regarding looks, for example men yelling rude remarks from the audene or the sarcastic realization, "Oh, she can actually fight."
"I want to prove that girls can be just as badass as guys," Eggink says. "We definitely have to work harder to get respect."
I asked her if she thought women fighters were treated different based on thier looks, "Looks do make a difference in the careers of women fighters," she said and although she thinks its ok to wear a little make-up to look pretty, don't ever expect to see Stephanie take any provacative pictures in a attempt to further her career. "That's just something I would never do." Eggink says.
Eggink had been trying to enter MMA fights all over Washington and Oregon for almost a year, before entering the Tuff-N-Uff 125lbs tournament, but none of the coaches would allow their fighters to accept her challenge. This is mainly because Eggink has a professional boxing background in addition to her MMA training which she said might make her opponents see her as more of a threat.
Thanks in large part to Sam Wilson, she was invited to enter the Tuff-N-Uff tournament.
"I was having trouble finding fights because of my boxing background, but now thanks to this tournament girls have to fight me, you cant back out of a tournament." Eggink says
He father Mark Eggink said he still gets nervous from time to time when he watches his daughter, but not as nervous as he was when he watched her very first fight. “You could actually see my heart beating through my shirt,” Eggink said. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but she ended up doing OK.” Her mom on the other hand keeps her eyes off the fight until the fght is over.
On July 2nd Stephanie Eggink defeated Jillian Lybarger by submission. (triangle choke) Stephanie said she was very proud of her performance in this fight and that she actually came close to finishing this fight in the first round when she had Jillian in a submission but the bell rang to end the round.
On August 6th Stephanie Eggink def. Katie Klimanski via Unanimous Decision. Stephanie felt she could have done better in this fight but she was happy to have won.
On September 24th Stephanie Eggink (2-0-0) will face Jenny Yum (6-0-0), when I asked Stephanie about her opponent Jenny Yum, she said, " I respect Jenny alot she's real nice and I have actually spent time getting to know her." As far as how she expects the fight to play out, she says she expects this one to stay on the feet and thats exactly where she want's it since she has yet been able to showcase her stand-up game.
As for Eggink, she said she feels confident about the tournament. Even though she may get nervous backstage before the fight she knows that the feeling is only temporary. “Before a fight, I get serious nerves,” Eggink said. “But once I’m in that cage or ring and the bell goes off, then I’m OK. It sounds bad," she conceded with a smile, "but when you hit someone it feels good."