As mixed martial arts continues to grow, we can expect to see more athletes like Kimberli Smith, who at age 13 is already training in multiple martial arts disciplines and is hopeful that by the time she's old enough to fight professionally, the UFC will have a women's division.
In the 1990s, MMA fighters started competing in one particular style of fighting -- like Brazilian jiu jitsu or wrestling or kickboxing -- and then brought that style to the UFC or other MMA promotions. Now we get youngsters like Kimberli, who has grown up watching the UFC and dreams of a career as an MMA fighter.
A profile of Kimberli by Sara Kiesler of the Daytona Beach News-Journal describes her rigorous workout schedule and plans to wrestle for her high school team when she enrolls as a freshman in the fall. The school's coach says that even though she'll be the only girl the school has ever had on the wrestling team, she'll wrestle with the varsity in the 103-pound weight class.
As an MMA fan, I find it exciting to see the way the sport seems to be catching on among teenagers. Kimberli is a great example of the next generation of fighters.