Chookagian Eyes Title During Wave of Women’s MMA

Katlyn Chookagian leg kick

Katlyn Chookagian lands leg kick at CFFC 52.

When Katlyn Chookagian started training Tae Kwon Doe at four-years-old, she followed in her older brother’s footsteps, but when she boarded a plane to Hungary to fight in a four women MMA tournament last May, she pioneered her own path.


“You know what’s weird is like when I was younger they didn’t really have any girls doing it, so I wanted to do it, but not knowing it was an option,” Chookagian said. “You know what I mean, like ‘Oh, guys were doing it, why can’t I?’”


Chookagian (5-0) turned pro on June 28, 2014, with a unanimous decision over Rebecca Heintzman at CFFC 37. She has remained undefeated since.

The 27-year-old will fight for the inaugural women’s flyweight championship at CFFC 55 tonight against Isabelly Varela (7-0) on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, which takes place at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.


Chookagian, who fights out of Allstar BJJ in Kenilworth, N.J., accepted an offer to fight in a tournament May 9, 2015, at Hungarian Fight Championship 9, to make up for lost experience when three consecutive fights fell through.


“It was a little nerve racking because it was just me and my one coach (Jamal Patterson) and we didn’t know what to expect,” Chookagain said. “No one really knew English that well and you know, we kind of ran into some difficulties.”


Chookagian faced issues like having to fight at 133 lbs. instead of flyweight (125lbs), which the organization offered first.


“The promoters, they knew at that heavy (of a weight class) I wouldn’t have gone so they didn’t tell us till at weigh- ins haha,” Chookagian said. “They even drove me to cut the last two pounds which I was already under weight, it all worked out.”


Chookagian defeated Linn Wennergren (2-3) via unanimous decision and finished Melinda Fabian (1-1-1) with a first round armbar to win the tournament.

Also undefeated, Varela is competing for the first time in America while training and living in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. She fights out of Parana Vale Tudo.


“They’re coming all the way from Brazil so she’s defiantly taking the fight seriously which is good, I think she got a couple finishes on the ground , she’s got good stand up,” Chookagian said. “we’re both pretty well rounded, I’m prepared for where ever the fight goes.”


CFFC gave spotlight to many young fighters that continued on to the UFC shortly after winning a CFFC belt like Aljamain Sterling, Paul Felder, Jimmie Rivera and George Sullivan. Chookagian is focused on growing as a fighter rather than a UFC contract.


“I’ve only been pro for a year and a half, and some of these girls, like Meisha Tate, have been fighting pro since like 2008,” Chookagian said. “These girls have a lot of experience and time to grow so I wouldn’t mind staying at 125 and waiting till they open up the weight class where I would feel most comfortable.”


When she started training the women’s MMA was limited with few weight classes available in different organizations. With its recent growth, Chookagian sees her goals in reach.


“My goal as a kid, just starting off, was being in the UFC, and they didn’t have girls in the UFC, now they do but they don’t have my weight class,” Chookagian said. “I feel like everything’s been falling into place, and you know, I’m confident my time will come.”

By Matt Steck