Fighter Focus: FIT NHB's Nikki Lowe Prepares to Face Wilena Jim at KOTC Wrangler
The sport of mixed martial arts has been widely acknowledged as the fastest growing sport in the world; and women in the sport are growing in number and talent.
New Mexico is full of female fighters who have already made their mark in combat sports; such as Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn, Julie Kedzie, Angela Chavez, Michelle Waterson, Jodie Esquibel, Holly Holm, Monica Lovato, Brenda Gonzales, Nohime Dennisson, Heather Clark, and many more.
It's because of these women, and many others, that organizations like Strikeforce now headline female bouts, and more and more women are getting into the sport. One such woman is Nikki Lowe; single mother of two, corrections officer at Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque, and 115-pound amateur cagefighter.
Originally from Oklahoma, Lowe is a Native American of Muskogee Creek, Seminole and Chickasaw heritage. Involved in sports since she was a child, she played basketball all four years of high school, and even earned a spot on a team at a junior college in San Diego, where her brother Scott Lowe lived (a professional fighter, he also owns his own gym in Tahlequah, OK).
However, lack of funding forced her to stay in Arizona, and she began training in boxing about five years ago. Shortly, after she started training, Lowe was diagnosed with a tumor in her pituitary, which was determined to be benign. However, her doctor told her she could not train anymore or have children. She stopped training, but found out a few months later, that she was pregnant. She began having migraines, decided to go back to the doctor, and they found that her tumor had doubled in size. She had emergency surgery to remove the tumor, her child was thankfully unharmed, and she has suffered no recurrence of the tumor since.
Shortly after her daughter was born, Lowe moved with her family to New Mexico. She enrolled her son in a local MMA/BJJ school, and when the coach invited her to come and train also, she decided to try it. When he saw that she had some knowledge of combinations and a natural ability to learn quickly, he asked Lowe if she'd be interested in fighting for the gym.
Lowe was struggling at the time with the recent loss of her other brother in a car accident, and she found that training and fighting helped her to deal with the grief and the stress of single parenting. She agreed to take a fight 6 months later, even though there was a last minute substitution, and she was seven pounds lighter than her opponent; she won that fight by TKO.
She participated in grappling tournaments as part of her training, and took second place in Gi of her weight class. Her next fight was against another opponent in a higher weight class, Lynae Lovato. That fight went the distance, and Lovato won the decision, but Lowe related "I think that fight is the one I'm most proud of, and the toughest fight I've had."
She went on to beat ex-playmate Latasha Marzola by doctor stoppage in the first round; and her next fight was a frustrating loss to J5's Alicia Garcia, by triangle. Her most recent fight was to Ashley Delk at Freestyle Cage Fighting's "Fight Strong for the Cure", an event whose proceeds went to benefit local breast cancer charities. After losing that match by decision, Lowe felt she needed to try something new.
Seeking more individual attention, she came, a few months ago, to see Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn, world-champion kickboxer, retired Army paramedic, and striking coach at FIT NHB. She and her husband and head coach Tom Vaughn (also head coach of Power MMA in Gilbert, AZ) have been training fighters for more than 15 years. Vaughn's nearly three decades of fighting plus training experience include karate, kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing and competition against fighters around the world.
Lowe was thrilled to begin training at FIT NHB, to add more martial arts to her arsenal. "I'm really excited to be using Muay Thai in the ring for the first time." She's also excited to be working with not only some of the best coaches in the world in the Vaughns, but also with UFC and KOTC teammates. "I'm the smallest cagefighter at the gym, and I can throw as hard as I want against these guys. They're positive and respectful, and they keep pushing me the whole time, encouraging me. I feel like I'm getting the personal attention I need here, and the training is more like what it is in the ring.
Lowe will face Wilena Jim on KOTC: Wrangler this Saturday, July 7, at UTE Mountain Casino Hotel, Towaoc, CO. For more information on this event, go to www.kingofthecage.com.