On Saturday, Nov. 7, Nola Hessom will fight against Trica Baar in a North American Allied Fight Series (NAASF) event in Akron, Ohio.
Nola will be the second fighter from Mercyhurst College to fight in a mixed martial arts bout this year. The first was George Hyek.
Nola trains primarily on campus. She works at the Athletic Center and also trains there.
Mercyhurst has had a mixed martial background for nine years and focuses on a few different fighting styles and some athletic training. Most of these classes are open to all students at the school looking for an intense workout.
Hessom is the assistant director of both the Mixed Martial Arts program and does a great deal of work with it, along with her position of assistant director of Intramurals
“We look to provide a program that can take in those who are just looking to test the waters and to try and provide to those trying to fight at a more serious level,” said Director of the Mixed Martial Arts Program John Bruno.
Besides Hessom, there have been a number of fighters who have competed in various fighting events that have trained with the Mercyhurst MMA program.
“We have had a number of students become very serious with this program and go and compete in Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions and even the Golden Gloves,” Bruno said.
The MMA program does have its drawbacks for the more serious fighters, as space and time is at a premium for the individual fighter.
“The only problem we run into deals with the small space we are forced to work with. We have people that want to get real serious but they are forced to conform to our standards of the rest of the students training with us due to this lack of space,” Bruno said.
“I hope that we can get a larger and more diverse group of people training in here so that maybe we can get the attention that we need and the larger facility,” Bruno said.
Despite the cramped times and space in the MMA program, Hessom has found enough time to hone her skills in MMA.
“I started training here seven years ago when I was a freshman and really got into the grappling aspect of fighting and from there more of MMA,” Hessom said.
Hessem has fought in a number of Brazilian jiu-jiitsu and has never lost to another female competitor.
Her match Saturday will be her first career cage fight.
“This match will allow me to test the waters with cage fights and if all goes well I will try and compete at the lower levels until a professional career could become an option,” Hessom said.
With her relative inexperience, Hessom will look to take the fight where she is familiar, the ground.
“I feel that my ground game is my strength with my grappling experience, so I am going to try to take this fight to the ground,” Hessom said.
On Nov. 7 all she learned at Mercyhurst will be on display along with Mercyhurst’s MMA program.