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The Challenger: Kayla Hracho

kayla hracho

Kayla Hracho is in a groove of late.  After delivering mixed results over the course of her first three years as a professional fighter, the 32-year-old resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida has been on fire, winning her last three bouts in Combate Global’s cage, “La Jaula”, in decisive fashion, thanks in large part to her phenomenal punching skills.

With her latest conquest – a unanimous decision over Spain’s Andrea Meneses on December 2 -  “Kayrock” ranks as high as #32 in the world in the women’s atomweight (105 pounds) division and finds herself at the front of the line for a Combate Global title shot in 2024.

We talked with Kayla about her fight prep and post-fight rituals:

What is your approach to food after the weigh in?

I work closely with a professional nutritionist and weight-cut specialist named Eric Peña. After focusing on hydration, we aim to eat easily-digestible carbs and lean protein, and we limit fat and fiber. I try to eat small meal every few hours until I go to sleep. I shoot for foods that I ate during camp. In my opinion, if you fuel your body for 8 weeks with a certain type of gas, why would you completely switch up the gas type before the big race? My go-tos are salmon, chicken, rice and potatoes, greek yogurt, and fruits. 

Describe your pre-fight playlist?

I go through different waves of emotions pre-fight, and I listen to certain music based on how I’m feeling in the moment. During fight day, leading up to the event, I mostly listen to worship music. It keeps me calm and centered. When I arrive at the venue, that’s when I turn it up. I listen to a lot of Mobb Deep, Meek Mill, and even some reggaeton. 

Do you have any fight day superstitions?

I don’t have any superstitions, but I am somewhat regimented on fight day. I drink coffee and eat breakfast. I do a light workout. Then I spend the most of the day praying, meditating/visualizing, sleeping, stretching, eating, and relaxing. I may watch a movie, go for a walk, or relax in the sun. Before this previous fight, I spent some time watching old Ilia Topuria + Alexa Grasso fights. 

Is there a specific person that always helps you warm up?

My cornermen for my last 2 fights (and victories) have been the legends Thiago Alves and Johnny Eblen. Thiago is a UFC legend — a former title challenger and BKFC world champion.  Johnny Eblen is the current Bellator Middleweight World Champion. He’s a good friend and mentor of mine, and a damn good fighter. Thiago warms me up on the pads before the fight. These two guys get me in the perfect flow before stepping into battle. 

kayla hracho

Who is the last person you call pre-fight?

On fight day, I’m typically alone the entire day until I meet my coaches at the venue. If I speak to anyone on the phone leading up to the fight, it would be my family. 

What’s going through your mind as you make the ring-walk?

The 20-second ring walk feels like a lifetime. At the same time, I’m thinking about everything and nothing. I am focused. Alert. Wide awake. I quickly run through my fundamentals and game-plan… “Knees bent. Hands up. Fast jab.” I utilize positive self-talk… “You’re the best. You’re prepared. You’re slick. You’ve worked so hard for this. Leave everything you have in there.” I think about specific combinations that I practiced all camp. And lastly, I breathe. I like to use the box breathing relaxation technique. You breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to 4 in your head, being conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach. Then hold your breathe for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 4, releasing all tension in the body. 

Once you see your opponent in the ring for the first time, is there anything that you're looking for? When I see my opponent standing across the cage, I don’t take my eyes off her. I’m scanning her eyes, her body and her chin, looking at the targets I’m going to hit. In my mind, I’m trying to instill fear, and letting her know by the look in my eyes that this is going to be her toughest fight yet. 

What goes through your mind the first time you get hit?

I’m going to hit her harder. 

How difficult is it to control your anger during a fight?

I’ve never been angry in a fight. 

How often do you hear the crowd?

I hear the crowd immediately before and after the fight, but not during. 

Who is the first person you call post-fight?

My mom.

Does your post-fight routine change after a loss vs after a win?

No, it doesn’t change. I typically take one week off training to recover and heal. If I’m able, I travel and spend time with my family. Whether I win or lose, I use this time to pause, reflect, and process the camp/fight. I study the fight (probably a few too many times) and list things that I want to focus on improving when I’m back on the mats. 

What’s your favorite post-fight meal?  (or What’s the first thing you think about eating after a fight?)


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