Despite famous husband, Emily Fisher found own path to MMA
In high school, Emily Fisher insisted on trying out for the boys wrestling team.
A lifelong tomboy, Fisher first convinced her small-town North Carolina construction-working father, who said he would support her. The bigger problem, though, was her boss at the department store.
"I also played softball," Fisher told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "He said he wouldn't work around the wrestling schedule because it wouldn't be part of my future like softball might be. Well, I never played softball again, and I'm using much more of the wrestling. It's kind of funny when you think about it."
Fighting, indeed, has become a major part of Fisher's life. Not only is she married to UFC veteran Spencer Fisher (22-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC), she is helping Spencer operate and train at his newly opened gym in Bettendorf, Iowa.
She's also preparing for her fifth professional fight on May 1, hoping to better her 3-1 record collected in scattered bouts during the past six years.
Her fighting is accelerating, however. The May bout will be the third for the 28-year-old in the past year following the start of a young, two-child family and continuing real estate work.
Fisher is part of a growing subset of MMA fighters, those who don't necessarily fight for the money or the fame but the self-respect and pleasure of accomplishment. The days spent preparing in the gym translate into confidence in other aspects of life, and the exhilaration of a fight simply can't be matched in day jobs or other errand tasks.
These are the part-time fighters, those who accept the business of MMA as part of their lives even if only fighting sporadically.
"Just before a fight, I ask myself, 'Why do I do this again?' " Fisher said with a laugh. "Sometimes I'm in the gym saying to myself, 'Why do I do this again?' It's mental. It's knowing you can do it, and hopefully do it well enough to prove yourself and give the crowd a show."
Life in the mountains
The town of Silva, North Carolina, is perhaps best known to nearby residents as the filming site for the train crash scene in the 1993 movie "The Fugitive," starring Harrison Ford. It has also produced the power MMA couple of Emily and Spencer Fisher out of the otherwise quiet mountains.
Fisher grew up the oldest daughter of a tough, construction-working father and hyper-involved schoolteacher mother. She credits her stubbornness and temper to her father but her patience and multi-tasking personality to her mother.
Around older uncles and cousins, Fisher often found herself in family scuffles while her father shook his head and said to her, "You're not hurt. Get up; you're fine."
Fisher took that toughness into hours on mountain hikes outside the town while thinking she would likely spend her entire life in the town. Her short-lived stint on the high school wrestling team (which she made during tryouts) included a bloodied nose in practice.
"I didn't want to be the one hurt because they would look at it being the girl getting hurt," Fisher said. "I always hated being singled out in anything for being the girl."
After high school, about 10 years ago, Fisher met Spencer in town one evening, and the chemistry was immediate. Spencer was already training to be a fighter, and Fisher was attracted to his training because she had often considered starting boxing on the side.
Neither knew at the time just how far – and close together – fighting would take them.
Husband and wife, both kicking ass
Near the time Emily and Spencer began dating, she accompanied him to a "toughman" contest at a local bar. It wasn't the tightest of operations. They arrived to find no ring, and the explanation came that a car accident caused a fire in the trailer carrying the ring. Masking tape was slapped on the ground, and beer-drinking onlookers were recruited to serve as backstops, pushing errant fighters back toward one another.
An interesting setting for Fisher's first fight, even if she didn't mean it to be. Several women in the crowd wanted to fight, so officials went seeking more females. After talking it over with Spencer, Fisher signed up.
After two months of boxing training, she faced an opponent who seemed more interested in headlocks than throwing punches. Fisher eventually threw a hard left hook that won her the fight, and the hardest shot she took was accidental and from her own glove.
Not long after, Spencer attended a seminar in Wilmington, N.C., put on by Pat Miletech, and his success led to the couple's move from North Carolina to the relatively bustling town on the Iowa-Illinois border. Spencer breezed to a 6-0 record before a friend at the gym convinced the couple to appear on the same MMA card, at International Cage Combat 2 on April 18, 2003.
"I lost by decision," Fisher said. "His fight was right after mine, and he said he was so stressed and pissed off that he wanted to kill the guy."
Spencer won his half of the couple's card and continued his path to regular UFC appearances. Fisher, meanwhile, earned her first professional victory in July 2004 before taking time off to start the couple's family and set her roots in the real-estate business. She still fits in training between shipping one of the couple's kids off to school, heading into the office, preparing dinners and otherwise helping to take care of the house.
But the pull of the gym is never far, particularly now that Spencer opened his own establishment called Evolution just two weeks ago in Moline, Ill. A