Katlyn Chookagian spends most of her time working as a bartender at Lulu’s, the nightclub inside the W Hotel in Hoboken.
Four days a week, you’ll find Chookagian mixing cocktails at the popular bar in the Mile Square City.
During the rest of her time, she’s busy training at the All-Star BJJ in Kenilworth, working with five other mixed martial arts fighters who are part of Team Renzo Gracie.
“He comes and runs the classes sometimes,” Chookagian said of the legendary mixed martial arts master. “I’m generally training six days a week. It’s hard, because I go to bed at 4:30 a.m. after bartending and I’m up at 6 a.m. to train. Sometimes, I get yelled at, because I’m overtraining, but that’s what I do. If I’m not training, what else am I going to do? I like it. It keeps me prepared.”
The hard work paid off last weekend, as Chookagian, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 115 pounds, won her professional debut, taking a three-round unanimous decision over Rebecca Heintzman at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in the Cage Fury Fighting Championship series.
Chookagian’s bout was the lone female bout in the 11-bout card Saturday night.
Chookagian, a native of Quakertown, Pa., attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, graduating in 2011 with a degree in business management.
But getting in the cage was always something that Chookagian dreamed of doing.
“I always did martial arts,” Chookagian said. “I started doing karate when I was four years old. I then did a lot of kick boxing as part of staying in shape, so I always had it in me.”
She also had the boxing down pat, winning the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves when she was 16 years old.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Chookagian said. “About a year and a half ago, I put it all together and got involved in mixed martial arts. There weren’t that many girls involved at that time, but the numbers of women in the sport are growing. My goal was always to do MMA.”
In 2012, Chookagian was spotted by manager Jamal Patterson, who took Chookagian under his wing.
“He helped me get to where I’m at,” Chookagian said. “I was having trouble finding fights and it was hard for me to develop in the sport. Jamal planned out my career and gave me a strong path to build it up.”
There were seven amateur MMA fights, all of which the 25-year-old Chookagian won.
“He saw me right away and took the extra time to help me,” Chookagian said. “I improved a lot in a short period.”
So Chookagian was ready for her pro debut last weekend.
“I was really excited to get my first pro fight,” Chookagian said. “This is what I wanted. When I started, it seemed so far away. I remember seeing a girl fighting MMA and saying, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I never thought I would actually do it. It’s crazy.”
Chookagian, a former Jersey City resident in the Heights before moving to Kearny a few months ago, doesn’t know how long she will continue in the mixed martial arts world. She’s only 25 years old, so she has a very bright future.
“I have done everything to prepare for this first fight,” Chookagian said. “There’s no better time than to get this career going. I do think the maturity is going to help me a little bit, because I’ve been through a lot.”
Chookagian is not going to let one win get to her head.
“I’m always trying to get better,” Chookagian said. “That’s all I think about when I get into the cage. I’m looking to get better. But I definitely like this.”
As long as she keeps winning, then Katlyn Chookagian will like MMA fighting almost as much as she likes bartending. Stop down the W and take a look in Lulu’s for Katlyn.
Katlyn Chookagian can be followed on Twitter @blondefighter…
Last week, it was mentioned here that former St. Peter’s Prep basketball standout Ronald Roberts had a workout with the Brooklyn Nets before the NBA Draft a day later. While Roberts, the former St. Joseph’s University standout, was not selected in the draft, he did receive an invite to play in the NBA Summer League in Orlando with the Philadelphia 76ers beginning Sunday through July 11.
Keeping busy, Roberts will then go to Las Vegas to play in NBA Summer League there, this time with the Miami Heat, from July 11-21. Roberts is certainly getting a chance that not many get and he’s the first St. Peter’s Prep product in more than four decades to get even a sniff of the NBA…
Former Ferris football standout Bryan Worts has announced his intentions to attend Rutgers University in the fall and try to earn a spot on the Scarlet Knights’ roster as a walk-on. Worts was a NCAA Division I signee at Southwest Missouri State a few years ago and has two years of college eligibility remaining…
St. Peter’s Prep’s football team is well on its way to having a strong season in the fall. It was evidenced last weekend, when the Marauders, led by quarterback Brandon Wimbush, won the prestigious 7-on-7 tournament at Rutgers University, besting a field of 32 teams. It’s definitely a good sign for the future.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.