Fast Confession - MMA fighter Lucie Pudilová: When I'm supposed to look like a woman, I look like a woman
Sport enthusiasts know Lucie Pudilová's name. The mixed martial arts fighter is a champion of the GCF organization and is the first Czech woman to fight in the most prestigious organization in the world, UFC. Even though some people could say that this Příbram-born lady is intimidating, in reality she's a nice girl that's much smaller than she looks on TV. She made some time in her packed daily schedule full of difficult training to give an interview to Luxury Prague Life.
You are now training in Prague. Why?
I have been here for two days, there's a training camp for freestyle fighters. A freestyle match is similar to a Greco-Roman one, but freestyle focuses on legs, it's more complex. You're trying to knock your opponent on their back. It's a nice combination for my sport specifically.
From a layman's perspective I feel that MMA is a rather established sport in the Czech Republic. It's known, but mostly among men. Among women it's still in its beginnings I think, correct me of I wrong. How do you feel about it as a professional?
There are a couple women here, but I'm probably the best (laugh).
Yeah you are, that's why I know you.
It's because we had UFC here. That might be why. Otherwise you probably wouldn't know about me.
It's more like a sport for guys. Why did you choose it?
I think that whatever anyone feels is for them, is for them. If a boy wants to dance or becomes a ballet dancer, it's because he enjoys it, right. I enjoy this.
How did you get into the sport?
I was really chill when I was younger. They were recruiting when I was in elementary school and I went with my friend kinda for no reason, to try something new and get into sports. I ended up really enjoying it and kept doing it.
On top of everything I got noticed by my trainer Ladislav Erdélyi there. He singled me out, he saw my fierceness. He knew I could get very far if I worked really hard and trained diligently. He actually founded the MMA in Příbram and was the first to start training there. And he chose me! I'm grateful for it; thanks to him I am where I am today.
How many years have you been doing it?
It's gotta be about ten years probably.
Since you're doing this on a professional level, making a living this way, it's your job. What does your day look like?
Well, the normal day of a sportsman... You wake up in the morning, do some kinda warm-up. Personally, I tend to have a small warm-up in the garden on my own, to get the body moving a bit. Then I get in the car to go to training. There I train, go home, enjoy my time off. I watch TV, read or so. And then I have more training.
In the evening, when I come home tired and I've overdone it, I don't sleep, because I can't fall asleep. If I didn't overdo it, I go to bed, to sleep. I go to sleep at around eleven, twelve PM. I know I should go to bed at ten, but I can't really manage.
When do you wake up?
Around eight, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Based on what's needed, how I'm feeling.
Isn't it repetitive?
What about when you're sick? Or let's say you wake up in the morning and realize you can't move, which happens to me often... I just decide that I won't go to training that day, and since I'm not a professional athlete, I can. But you can't just decide not to go, can you?
Well, I can't, but that doesn't mean I'm always in the mood. (laugh)
What would you do if you didn't go to training?
My mom often tells me to rather just go to the training session, because then I start to get a little crazy, I start to overthink everything. This way when I go to training, I let out a lot of energy and I'm calm throughout the day. You really let everything out at the training session.
Everyone imagines different things when you say 'training'. What does your training look like? You said that you reach your limit at every training session. Tell us what you do there.
It varies, I either have strength training, weight training, or it's speed and endurance training, that has me running and I can't do too much lifting. Then I have to lose weight too, because you have to lose weight for this sport. Then there's sparring, boxing, sometimes I get hit real hard and then it hurts the next day, my head's spinning, but still I have to go to training again. Then there are matches, I have a bad fall, something can happen to my elbow for example... But aside from that it's completely safe. (laugh) I'd say that if you know what you're doing, do it with reasonable people, it isn't all that dangerous.
When you google your name, photos of you come up, and in some of them you were quite beaten up...
It looks that way, it bleeds a lot, but that's all. It's not that I'm completely beaten up.
Does it ever happen to you that you're walking down the street, you have a bruise, so people turn to you and ask whether you're getting abused at home, or whether your partner's violent?
I haven't had any training injuries for a while now. (laugh) But generally, people know me already, so they know it's probably from training.
Do you not mind it from an aesthetic standpoint? What if you wanted to go see a play in the evening or something?
I don't, but at school I used to get teased if I had my leg wrapped up and walked with a limp, for example. Then I had my ear bandaged up. That one was kinda questionable, they laughed at me, but I laughed at myself too. Aside from that, there's nothing.
What do other girls, your friends think about this? Are they open to it and did they try to go to training with you, get into it as you did? Or do they think you're just weird?
The friends I had earlier, one of them tried it with me. But the friends that don't do it are simply just my normal friends, for myself. Now I have many friends who do this sport too, so they don't find me weird.
What about men? Aren't they intimidated? You must be stronger than them...
Well, I don't know. There might be some respect. Or they're shy.
Have you ever gotten into a fight outside the octagon?
I'm very chill... When my sparring partners read that, that I'm a chill person, they'll probably laugh.
Aren't you? Should I rather ask them?
Ask them. (laugh) Well, at the training sessions, when I'm not doing well, I'm not chill at all. But generally in the streets I'm chill. You're not afraid of me, are you?
If somebody tried to attack you and steal your purse, what would you likely do to him? I can't imagine. (laugh)
If I was tired after training, I don't know, nothing, probably. I'd just look at him - like, what? Like he's gone mad.
Anyway, Lucka, you're our most successful MMA fighter. Tell us how far you've come thanks to your diligence and hard work.
I started out in the Czech Republic at first. I won some matches here. One was against a Czech fighter, they brought in foreigners to fight me after that. There weren't any other professional female fighters, so they always sent the best ones from various countries. Then I became the Scandinavian number one. Well, and then I got the offer to join UFC. Now I fight there, I changed weight class, probably for the better...
Changed from which one to which?
I was sixty-one, now I'm fifty-seven.
So you're on a diet permanently...
No, when I'm on a diet, I'm in a terrible mood. I usually say that I'd rather just eat now and then somehow suffer through a diet before a match. But to be on a diet all the time, I wouldn't even be able to perform well.
A sportsman has to eat a lot and needs energy. In the Fast Confession you told us "not to eat" as the answer to the question about dieting, but you have to eat specifically because of needing that energy. How do you lose let's say five to six kilos in a week?
I can lose that in two days, on water weight. It's rather easy, the more you exercise, the more you sweat. But you can't drink anything for 24 hours before the weigh-in, so you kinda just suck on candy.
That seems impossible to endure.
Well, I have to endure it. But if I didn't have to get to that weight, I wouldn't be able to. A normal healthy person just wouldn't do this.
Do you have any health problems from it then, if you do it often?
I don't, I generally function on some sort of a healthy lifestyle pretty well. This is short and brutal, but after it's over I'm fine.
When can you eat?
After the weigh-in I go to have a drink and a meal immediately, and I'm back again.
Do you like regular chocolate, for example? Do you eat things like that?
Yeah, I eat everything.
You fought at UFC this February, it was a huge fight, tell us about it. How was it? How'd you prepare for it, what were your feelings?
It was great, especially the support from people, the cheering. They supported me even afterwards, because they'd liked it. I have to admit that it was very hard, because I'm not used to that much media attention. Before that there was really so much - and to be losing weight on top of that, having some performance output.
Do you have anything of similar scale lined up in the near future?
For me everything's big, so I can't say that one thing's bigger, one thing's smaller. Now something "kinda" really huge's coming up for me.
Where did you go for your last vacation and what did you do there?
I went to Cuba just now, everyone thought I was on vacation there. Everyone thinks I was just slacking off...
So what did you do then?
Trained, of course. Twice a day.
Why did you go to Cuba to train?
I wanted to disappear after that match, to be alone.
So you only trained and didn't relax?
I wouldn't know how to do that.
So did you see anything out of that country at all?
I went to the beach a couple times, but I'm really mostly interested in and enjoy the training. It was kind of fun for me, but a vacation that's just going somewhere for two months isn't for me. It's not my style.
So where did you go for your last proper vacation?
One where I'd like, not train?
Yes, where you'd really skip sport.
Hmm, I went to the mountains before. I only did skiing there. I just went skiing every now and then and went to the sauna. It was a week after a fight, so it'd be dumb not to relax after it.
I also want to ask you about fashion. When you spend most of your time at the gym, do people only see you in sweatpants and lycra? What about shopping and other girly things?
Like, I have a lot of clothes and I'd love to wear them out, but there aren't many opportunities. When I'm supposed to look like a woman, I look like a woman. But I usually go to the gym to train and don't need to be wearing a dress.
I don't shop much. I get a lot of my clothing from sponsors, Goldfingers designs fan jerseys for me, for example. Just the other day I got performance shirts from them. Hayashi sponsors me too, from them I got my sports gear, gloves, bandages and such. So I really don't have to go shopping often.
I mostly shop for food. (laugh) And you'll be surprised, sometimes I go to a hair salon too. (laugh)
Can you cook? If you invited me over, what'd you make for me?
With real home-made bread dumplings?
Okay, what about your personal life. Do you have anyone to cook svíčková for?
Sure, anyone, I cook for my family all the time. Every day; I come back from training and spend four hours cooking.
Do you have a partner?
Maybe... no woman is ever truly alone.