Singapore’s newest female MMA star Kirstie Gannaway of the Evolve Fight Team joins ONE FC

Kirstie Gannaway, 23, is out to prove that she has the skills, the looks and the X-factor to make it big in the Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) scene.

Only the third Singaporean female to be signed to ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC), the Australasian beauty is also the newest addition to the prestigious Evolve Fight Team.

It all started with a bold decision made four months ago to quit her job as a graphic artist and pursue her MMA dream.

That leap of faith was rewarded when Gannaway earned a prized spot on Evolve Fight Team last Friday and a ONE FC contract at the same time.

“It felt unreal. There I was, exhausted from the five-day tryout for the fight team and wondering to myself if I had done good enough when the announcement was suddenly made,” she recalled.

“I froze there and then because I could not believe the good news. To be honest it still hasn’t sunk in completely!”

Gannaway has yet to face an opponent under MMA rules, but she will be well-prepared when the time comes, as she has a diverse martial arts portfolio that consists of eight years of boxing, five years of Muay Thai and two years of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA) each.

Since she was introduced to boxing by her elder brother – who was competing in amateur boxing and Muay Thai – Gannaway has always wanted to fight but never had the opportunity to, except for one amateur Muay Thai fight when she was 16.

Regardless, she continued to train in boxing with the intention to fight one day.

That desire became stronger after she met her boyfriend Herbert Burns – fellow Evolve Fight Team member and ONE FC featherweight – in 2011 and he took her to try BJJ and MMA.

“From the first time I tried it I thought it was awesome. MMA is so exciting, with so many options to use in sparring. I was so used to boxing but now I’m challenged to think of how to use every single part of my body to defend myself,” she explained.

Her career as a graphic artist left her with little time to train, so finally in March this year, she resigned from her full-time job to chase her MMA dream, admitting she was not “particularly happy” with where she was in life at that time.

She then increased her training at Evolve MMA to two hours every day.

“I thought to myself, I may not have another opportunity to put as much effort into my training and immerse myself in it totally later in life, so I'd better do it now,” she added.

The big break came when Gannaway was given the chance to try out for the Evolve Fight Team.

For one whole month she dedicated herself to intensive training of four hours a day in preparation for the trial.

Full of nerves at the tryouts, she gave it her all and told herself to keep going unless she passes out.

“I was feeling a bit lost in life before this came about. I am an artist but it’s not something that I will jump out of bed for every day. So, I asked myself what is my favourite thing to do, what will I look forward to and I found it in MMA,” she shared.

“In life, you need some pressure to drive you forward. I was a pretty misled child and I didn’t have a lot of direction or a huge drive to succeed, not until I found martial arts. This has become my purpose and motivation in life.”

Dates for her ONE FC debut have not been fixed yet, but this is one debut you will not want to miss.