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Miele wins bantamweight championship

Prospect native Jessy Miele, left, fights Calie Cutler during the Reality Fighting Bantamweight Championship Jan. 7 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. Miele won the title with a chokehold submission in the second round. –IGDALIA MEDINA

Jessy Miele showed Connecticut why she’s the number one ranked women’s mixed martial artist in New England.

The 31-year-old Prospect native won the Reality Fighting Bantamweight Championship Jan. 7 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. Miele defeated Michigan-based fighter Calie Cutler with a chokehold submission in the second round to win the title.

The title is the second for Miele, who works at Post University and now calls Waterbury home, but the first one she won in her home state.

“Even though Reality Fighting has been going on for so long, they have never had a female title for any weight class in Connecticut. It’s a big deal because it’s not just my weight class, but for females it is the very first belt. So, it is kind of exciting for me,” Miele said.

Miele’s record improved to 6-3 with the win, and she is now ranked the top women’s fighter pound for pound in New England, according to Tapology.com. Women’s Mixed Martial Arts ranks her as the No. 12 featherweight in the nation, according to thewmma.com.

Miele’s road to her MMA status started at a young age. She was an athlete in middle school and high school, taking part in after school sports. In college, Miele joined the rugby team.

However, after graduating college there were no more sports leagues that she could simply join. Miele said she didn’t want to just go to the gym because it doesn’t provide enough competition.

“So when I had my full-time job and I got out I thought, ‘What do I do.’ So I had a couple choices. Some people have families. Some people have second jobs. Some people go to the bar for happy hour. I needed to do something like sport-wise. I didn’t want to run on a treadmill for an hour and burn 500 calories. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to learn while I was doing it,” Miele said.

She began taking lessons in karate, but just learning wasn’t enough.

“It was awesome, but I wanted to compete. I needed to actually go and try competing because I have been a competitor all my life,” Miele said.

Miele’s search ultimately led her to study jiu-jitsu and to winning her first jiu-jitsu tournament. Since 2007, she has studied a number of fighting styles, including martial arts and boxing. She currently trains with Chris Smith of IMB Academy of Connecticut and Russell Leak of Underdog Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

In 2009, Miele made her amateur MMA debut, winning a fight against Kaline Medeiros.

Her first professional fight did not go so well, however.

“My family and friends and everybody were there and I lost in 19 seconds. It was really hard. I looked in the mirror afterwards and said, ‘What just happened,’” Miele recalled.

Miele said she could have quit after that loss, but wanted to continue to fight.

“It’s inevitable that you are going to fail. The best part about failing is keeping going and you learn from it. It’s not really failing, it’s learning,” Miele said.

On Jan. 7, Miele once again stepped into the ring in front of friends and family. But this time, she was full of confidence.

“For me I feel like I am in my element. I started training for all of it on day one,” Miele said. “The plan isn’t just take a hit and hit back. It’s to finish. It’s more like survival.”

Now that she has the title, Miele said Reality Fighting will likely set up another fight to have her defend it.

“They have another fight in June. If it is something they are looking at having me fight and defend, I am definitely open to that,” Miele said.

In the meantime, Miele plans to work on improving her technique.

“When you are training for a fight you are always thinking about that fight and you are focusing on cardio more. When you aren’t, you are thinking about technique more,” Miele said.

Miele isn’t sure what the future holds for her MMA career, but one thing is certain: she is going to keep training and getting back in the ring.

“When I’m 50 I probably can’t fight in a cage anymore. So I want to keep going. But I don’t see myself stopping, even when I am 50 or 60. I see myself still working on technique and still adjusting,” Miele said. “I just want to keep going as far as I can.”