Kicking It with Kailin Curran

Fightland Blog

By Aaron Nardi

Photos by Aaron Nardi

Kailin Curran recently became the first Hawaiian woman to sign with the UFC. She joins the new squadron of ladies in the UFC's brand new strawweight division, but will skip The Ultimate Fighter house and step into the Octagon right away. 

Kailin's first bout against Paige VanZant is in question due to her opponent's recent spinal injury, but she is still preparing—ready for her first shot in the big leagues. We caught up with the Hawaiian born kickboxer in California, where she is currently training at Reign Training Center, Art of Eight, and with Jason Manly.

Fightland: Give us your full name and all of that.
Kailin Curran:
Jaydene-Kailin Curran, but I like to go by Kailin. Born April 11,1991, I am 23 years young.

Growing up on Oahu, how did you get into MMA?
I started off kickboxing and wrestling throughout high school. MMA was pretty new for women at the time. I loved to compete, so I took my first MMA fight in May of 2010 and from then on I kept competing. I never thought it would be possible to come this far or that I would be able to turn it into a career.

You started your professional fight career in Guam with a record of 3-0. What was it like to fight over there?
It was great. Guam reminds me of my home so much just because of how nice the people were and also because Guam had that same island feel. They helped me build my record and gave me great fights. I will forever be thankful for the PXC (Pacific Xtreme Combat). I've made a lot of fans and made a name for myself with them. It was nice while it lasted. I would like to thank Ej Calvo, Eli Monge and the rest of the PXC staff for all they've done for me. Also my uncle Kai Kamaka who hooked me up with them to begin with.

What is it like to getting brought into the UFC?
It really, truly is a dream come true. I'm excited for it and happy that they were interested in signing me. I will not let them down.

How does that passion for surfing relate to your passion for MMA?
Growing up in Hawaii, we’re spoiled with awesome waves, great sunny weather, lovely beaches, and just all around paradise. I taught myself to surf at the age of 13. I had this hand me down Bushman potato chip short board that I learned on. I love surfing because I feel (just like with fighting) I get I go out and challenge myself. Fighting reminds me of surfing in a way where you are always constantly learning something new, you get a great work out from itand it's something that I love! Surfing also helps me forget about a lot of [negative] things. It's relaxing to just be out in the water enjoying the ocean and the people that I am surfing with. My boyfriend is a professional surfer so I get to learn a lot of new things from him every time we go out and surf together.

You moved from Oahu to Southern California, How do you like it?
I've been out to California for about a year now. I didn’t like it at first. It was a really hard transition because I had no friends or family out here. But since the move, I've made a lot of great friends.

As far as the difference in the MMA scene, I feel like there is a lot of more opportunity out here for me. Being on Oahu, it was a little harder to get my name out there or to even find opponents for fights. Also, there is more diversity—fighters travel here to do camps. I love being here—I'm surrounded by great people and an awesome atmosphere.

What keeps you motivated to train mixed martial arts?
It’s the challenge and constant learning process. I love the complexity of the sport. I also love that it will help me survive financially. Who doesn't want to live their dream life? 

What can we expect for the future of your MMA career?
I don't really have any other option, no plan b, c, d, e, f, or g (haha). I'm all in and committed. Expect my best and everything that I've got. My goal is simple—be happy, live healthy, love fully, and make the most of this life I was given with purpose. I will work hard to be the best I can be in and outside of the Octagon.



Check out this related story:

The First Female Fighter from Hawaii Joins the UFC