Alana Cook of Maple Ridge won her professional MMA debut. (Pallas Athena Women’s Fighting Championships/Special to The News)

Alana Cook of Maple Ridge won her professional MMA debut. (Pallas Athena Women’s Fighting Championships/Special to The News)

Maple Ridge woman wins professional MMA debut

Alana Cook will also be teaching at new MMA gym in her home town

A Maple Ridge fighter won her professional mixed martial arts debut over the weekend at a Calgary event.

Alana Cook took on an elite amateur boxer, who was also just turning pro, at the Pallas Athena Women’s Fighting Championships. She won by submission in the first round.

Her opponent Maxime Turcotte-Novosedlik is an Ottawa golden gloves boxer, and at 5’10” stands five inches taller than Cook, giving her a considerable reach advantage. So, Cook’s game plan was to get her to the ground, and that’s how the fight went down.

“Taking her down really nullifies that reach advantage,” she said, and with about 30 seconds left in the first round, Cook had her opponent in a rear choke hold, and the boxer was forced to tap out.

The announcer remarked on the smile on Cook’s face after her first win as a pro.

“It gives you such a feeling of empowerment,” she said.

“I’m not afraid of getting hurt, I’m afraid of not performing to my true potential.”

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She gave a shout out to her partner Keanan Kellar, who is also a professional fighter, who stepped into her corner when her coach was not able to make the fight.

“I didn’t win the fight, we won the fight,” she said.

Cook was impressed with Pallas Athena, which she said was an all-women’s fighting event, that featured an international card with fighters from the U.S., France, Iran, and across Canada.

“They did an amazing job,” she said.

The new pro got her start in the sport at the Fight Pit on 224th Street in Maple Ridge when she was just 19. Her love of the sport found her training in Muay Thai kickboxing in Thailand. She’s been training seriously for the past five years, but COVID-19 has cancelled amateur events, and it’s been hard for her to get amateur fights since the pandemic began. So she decided it was time to turn pro, for the opportunity to advance her career.

She’s not yet sure what’s next for her competitive career, but Cook will be teaching women’s classes at Maple Ridge’s new Animo Boxing and MMA. She said it’s a great sport for women and girls.

“I always wish I had gotten into it younger,” she said. “When I started, I was the only girl in the gym.”

The veteran fighter said she loves introducing people to the sport, and seeing the transformation when a new person walks nervously into the gym, unsure of themself. Then after they get started, they soon come in with a comfort level that says “I belong here.”

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