Kaytlin "Katniss" Neil, Professional MMA fighter and personal trainer is our brand ambassador for CENTURY Martial Arts!
Once, Kaytlin Neil would have seemed an unlikely candidate for a martial arts ambassador:
“(I thought it was) dumb,” she admits. “Why would anyone want to go onto a cage and beat one another up?
Search for Kaytlin Neil online today, though – or better yet, for her nickname, “Katniss” – and the results will reveal a different story! Kaytlin is a professional mixed martial arts athlete fighting in Bellator.
The change came after Kaytlin went see some live MMA fights with friends.
“Once I realized that it was an actual sport, with technique and strategy, I looked at it much differently,” Kaytlin says.
The real moment of truth came in 2019, when Kaytlin got a shot at a title fight. “Before that fight, I always had a hard time believing I was actually a professional MMA fighter – I had what many people call ‘imposter syndrome,’” Kaytlin explains. “On the way into the ring, my coach told me simply, “Believe in yourself.” I repeated that in my head multiple times in the cage: “Believe in yourself.” Those words helped me not only get through that fight and win the title, but thrive. I’ll repeat it to myself at practice and when I’m having a hard moment that doesn’t necessarily have to do with fighting.”
CONNECT WITH KAYTLIN!
Interview with Kaytlin "Katniss" Neil
1. Where are you from/where did you grow up?
I am currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am from a small city in Utah called Lindon.
2. How did you begin training in martial arts?
I grew up doing dance and gymnastics which lead to me cheerleading for six years. I tried out for acollege cheer team my senior year of high school and I didn’t make it. I was always an athlete andwanted to stay active but I wasn’t sure what to do. My friends took me to some fights my sophomoreyear of college and there was one female fight on the card and after watching it I thought, “I’m going to dothat.” Then I started training and never looked back.
3. What were your initial impressions of martial arts?
My initial impressions of martial arts was, “Why would anyone want to do that? That looks so dumb.Why would anyone want to go into a cage and beat each other up?” Once I realized that it’s an actualsport with technique and strategy that went into it, I looked at it much differently.
4. What experience in your martial arts journey has meant the most to you?
The experience in my martial arts journey that has meant the most to me is when I fought for and wonmy first belt. I am proud of myself for a few reasons from that fight. I pushed through all the training, Iprepared so hard for that fight, my training was insane. I fought a much more experienced opponent. Iliterally had people messaging me asking if I was crazy for taking that fight. I went all 5 minute rounds,not losing a single round and put on my best performance I’ve ever put on. I felt confident in the cage, Ifelt like I could actually let go like I’ve always wanted to but have been too hesitant to in the past. Eventhough I have fought on much larger stages in MMA, that was definitely my favorite fight so far. It meantthe most to me because I proved to myself that I could push through and overcome hard things in lifeand for once in my professional MMA career I truly felt like I belonged there.
5. What does a normal day of training look like for you?
Everyday is different, but a typical day of training is going to team practice, where we focus on mmastriking, mma wrestling, mma grappling then I’ll try to go to 1 or 2 other training sessions whether that isboxing, muay thai, or jujitsu and squeeze in 45-60 minutes of strength training.
6. What advice do you have for young martial artists?
Advice I have for young martial artists is don’t give up. Be resisiliant. Keep coming back and keep trying.This sport will give you the highs of highs and the lows of lows. You’ll get a lot of praise but you’ll alsoget a lot of cristism. Try not to let either determine your value or what you believe about yourself. Onlyyou get to determine your worth. Martial arts will help you become the best version of yourself, on andoff the mats, if you let it.
7. What are three things you can’t live without?
Three things I can’t live without are Desserts, Friends, Family
8. What movie can you watch any time?
Deadpool. Such a funny movie.
9. Which song/artist gets you ready for a workout?
People ask me all the time what pumps me up and assume it’s heavy metal, but I really like working outto Taylor Swift.
10. Where’s one place you’ve never been, that you’d love to visit?
One place I’ve never been but I’d love to visit is Bali. It’s super trendy on Instagram right now but Ilooked amazing.
11. Who are your role models?
12. What’s your go-to method for relaxing at the end of the day?
My go-to method of relaxing at the end of the day is CBD. I have a hard time falling alseep but it suredoes help.
13. What food could you eat for the rest of your life without getting tired of?
14. What’s your favorite piece of clothing you own?
I have way too many clothes to choose just one, but if I HAD to pick right now I’d say a fuzzy sweater Ihave because it’s so comfy.
15. Which season is the best for being outside?
Summer is easily the best season for being outside. I love the sun, I love the heat and I love going topools. Conversely, I hate the snow and in Utah it was very snowy.
16. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
If I could have a superpower it would be the power to be able to read people’s minds, because I think itwould be interesting to really know what people are thinking.
17. What is the most important advice you’ve ever received?
“Believe in yourself” Right before I went walked out to my title fight, my coach Jason Mertlich looked medead in the eye and said “Believe in yourself.” Before that fight I have always had a hard time believingthat I was actually a professional MMA fighter. I had what many people call “imposter syndrome.” I justdidn’t felt like I belonged or that I could really beat anyone (even though I had won multiple fightsbefore that fight). I repeated in my head multiple times in the cage “Believe in yourself.” Those wordshelped me not only get through that fight, but thrive. I’ll repeat it to myself at practice and when I’mhaving a hard moment that doesn’t necessarily have to do with fighting.
18. What are your favorite Century products?
Creed Heavy Bag Gloves and the Creed Shin Insteps