Prepare for the coming of Chelsea Hackett as she transcends from being a Muay Thai fighter to a mixed martial artist. This 20-year-old Muay Thai professional hailing from Australia has a lot of potential, and she is finally going to debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) under the bantamweight division.
As she now enters the realm of MMA, Hackett is going to have a fresh start, cleared up of her previous records as a Muay Thai champion; no win-loss record, no information about her size, reach and whatnot, and no achievements—as far as the promotion is concerned. But that does not take away the fact that Hackett has had a colorful journey as a martial arts fighter—and her upward trajectory in MMA is only going to propel her even more. Considering that she is only 20 years old at this point and has already established herself in Muay Thai, it says a lot about this young girl’s potential in the coming years, presuming that she continues to pursue the UFC.
Sponsored by her parents, Hackett first started training in Taekwondo at the age of 8. At 12, after continuous training in the kicking-heavy, Korean martial art, Hackett finally earned her black belt. Instead of being content of her 4-year achievement, she decided to pursue other forms of martial arts and become a better fighter for herself; that’s when she found her first love: Muay Thai. She immediately started her Muay Thai classes at the Gold Coast Boonchu International Muay Thai Gym, which is owned by the famous Australian boxer John Wayne Parr. Her training in Muay Thai marked the beginning of her career. Having carried her expertise in Taekwondo, Hackett brought what she had mustered since she was 8 in her newfound martial art, which helped propel her fighting career forward. By the time she was 13, Hackett already had her first fight in the ring.
In her current Muay Thai record, according to Awakening Female Fighters’ archives, Hackett has fought in the Featherweight class—around the weight range of 125lbs to 126lbs (56kg to 57kg)—and has garnered the nickname “Hammer.” She was won 16 fights and lost to 4 with 3 draws (16-4-3). Along the way, Hackett has proven herself, her parents, and everyone else that she is a champion by getting as many championship titles, medals, trophies, and belts as she can. She has also represented her country in two separate occasions, which she deems as her biggest achievement as a Muay Thai pro and as a fighter in general. Just last August, Hackett faced the 2017 WMO Muay Thai World Championship 57Kg gold medalist Emily Wahby in the ring and came out on top, defeating the formidable, more experienced Italian fighter who had a win-loss record of 42-8 before the match.
“I competed at the World Games in 2014 in Malaysia and in 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand,” Hackett told MMA news outlet BJ PENN. “Those would be my biggest achievements—just representing my country at a young age. I was 15 in Malaysia and 16 in Bangkok, and both years I won gold.” She continued: “To bring gold back home both years in a row was a massive achievement for me and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of my Muay Thai career. Since then, I’ve won three Queensland titles, three Australian titles, two world titles, and an international WBC belt. I think I’ve won six belts and two gold medals.” But of course, Hackett being the way that she has always been since she was 12, she never settled for what she has. Now, she’s about to step into the UFC cage, thirsting for a new challenge.
Hackett is back in Phase 1 and now that she is among MMA fighters in the UFC, she would need more than just her knowledge of Muay Thai and Taekwondo if she wants to prevail. Since her decision to enter the octagon cage, Hackett has added more tricks up her sleeves, training in Brazilian jiu jitsu and wrestling, both of which are essential and widely used in MMA. “I’ve been doing BJJ now for just over a year and as soon as I started, I loved it,” Hackett shared. “It was kind of like the same feeling I had when I started Muay Thai. I felt like I really loved the physical side; the test of it. It was pushing me out of my comfort zone.” “Now with my new love for wrestling and BJJ, I can put them together [with my Muay Thai] and test myself even more. From August to December last year I was fully was invested in MMA training and I loved it.” Now fully equipped with all the UFC necessities, the only thing left for Hackett to do is find someone to put her skills to the test, and she and her manager are already working on that.
Hackett’s enthusiasm shows how she really wants to be a part of the UFC; she made sure that she never falls short of preparation even without an opponent to bout with—her drive to become the next big thing in MMA just shows. While relatively young in the very dangerous sport, Hackett is not afraid to take on new challenges, and it has always been the case for her ever since she first entered the world of combat sports when she was 8. “I’ve always loved the UFC. I do want to establish myself in the UFC as a young fighter. I would love to be there by the time I’m 22, 23.”
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