“Redefining Fitness One Fight At A Time”
An Interview With Cassie Rodish
CrossFit 515 is basically a breading ground for amazing athletes. On any given day you can walk in and you see ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Each person there has a different motivation that drives them to keep coming back and suffering through the pain. Cassie Rodish was no stranger to pain when she walked in the doors at 515. When she isn’t taking care of her two adorable daughters or her daycare kids, “Sassy” Cassie is working hard at honing her skills as a professional female mixed martial artist. It is astounding to see how much drive and passion can be packed into her 5’1, 105# frame, but this fighter is on a mission. She wants to be the best, and she is on the right track after her last fight shot her up in the WMMA world rankings to #5 with a win over Stephanie Frausto. Cassie gave us some insight on what it is like to be a professional fighter, who uses CrossFit to help train for what she calls “war”.
Tell me a little bit about your life, family, job, hobbies outside of MMA. How do you balance training and life?
I’m 32years young. I’ve been married to my husband Brad Rodish for 11 yrs now. Which is crazy to think we’ve have been married for a 1/3 of our lives. We have two beautiful and rambunctious girls. During the day I run an in-home daycare. My job allows me to spend time during the day with my girls and train at night. I don’t really have too many other hobbies outside of my family and MMA. If and when I have free time I like to relax and hang with my family. The best times together are when we really aren’t doing anything. Juggling family, career and training is very, very difficult. I’m lucky that I have wonderful friends/teammates that will schedule around my needs. Sometimes we have to be creative. Cardio sessions at the park, track and even parking ramps. My husband’s family helps watch the girls if I’m in a jam. When I’m in the gym I have incredible teammates that push me and make the most out of the time I have in the gym.
How did you get into MMA?
After my second daughter was born I needed to lose some weight so I tried a 10 weeks kick boxing camp. After a few weeks the instructor noticed that had potential and he invited me to a Mauy Thai gym that he fought out of. After trying the first stand up class I loved it. I did a couple Mauy Thai matches but realized if I wanted to compete I would need to focus on MMA . There’s more opportunity to compete since MMA was rapidly growing.
What is your athletic background?
I ran cross country and long distance in track. Cross country set me up well for Martial Arts because it’s a solo sport. When things get rough you can’t hand the ball to your teammate. Your success solely depends on you. When I’m in the cage I can’t say I’m tired can someone step in while I catch my breath.
How long have you been a fighter?
What are your amateur and pro records?
I don’t really have an amateur record because Iowa has only been a sanctioned stated for a while now. When I first started we fought at a local bar that had a ring set up on the dance floor. There were rules set in place so fights weren’t a complete massacre, no elbows, knees, eye pokes or groin shots. As far as weight class, experience levels, that was up to the fighters discretion. There were no official judges, just the audience’s chants won the fight. It seems a bit extreme but It really gave me nerves of steal. If you could get up in front of your peers and take on anyone that steps in to the cage, everything less is a cake walk. I believe my record was 11-1 Amateur MMA . I also had amateur Muay Thai matches and I was 2-0
Pro record is 4-3 but undefeated at 105# weight class. Is important to mention because many female fighters have to take whatever fights they can get. I have fought at weights as high as 135#. Now that WMMA is more popular and there are shows like Invicta FC. We are able to fight at appropriate weight classes.
How long do you typically train for a fight?
This varies a lot for women. My last couple of fights I took on less than 10 days’ notice. Now that there are shows like Invicta FC we are able to have full fight camps that are 6-8 weeks long. Camps can change depending on what your opponent is like. If you are facing a good striker your probably going to focus of your stand up. Likewise if you have a wrestler you will spend more time on the ground. A lot of the times I will watch recent fights and pick a few things I need to watch out for and what I can capitalize on. If you are lucky you can have your training partners mimic your opponent. If you want to become a better fighter you need to focus on your weaknesses. You have to always be evolving and bettering your game.
How many hours a day do you train? A week?
Day A.M. P.M.
Monday CrossFit Wrestling 6-9
Tuesday CrossFit Yoga + Ju Jitsu
Wednesday Sprints Off
Thursday CrossFit Striking/Conditioning 6-9
Friday CrossFit (if I could)+ Swimming Ju Jitsu 6-9
Saturday Sparing 11-2 Off
Sunday Sparing 11-2 5+ mile run
What is your diet like when cutting weight for a fight?
Diet is so strict when I’m in camp. I only eat green veggies and lean protein like salmon, turkey and chicken. This camp I did a lot of juicing and it really helped. I was able to get more of the green veggies in my diet. No fruit, bread or grains.
When did you add CrossFit to your training program?
I tried CrossFit about 6 months ago and loved it. At that time I wasn’t in camp and just came and went to the gym. For this last fight camp I was able to add multiple days of training. It made a huge difference. I could tell in the cage that I was much faster and more powerful than my opponent. When she was gassed I was still full of energy. That is a great feeling in a fight.
What was your favorite CrossFit workout or movement? Least favorite?
I’m always down to do burpess, I guess that’s the wrestler in me. I’m getting more and more comfortable doing squats. I like to see my weight going up on those. I hate, hate with a passion Toes to Bar!! I don’t understand why I cant do them, they hurt so much. If I never did another one, I would not be upset.
Do you think CrossFit helped you better prepare for your fight?
I think CrossFit helped a lot physically and mentally. Pushing through workouts and knowing that you have the ability you just have to go for it. The mental state of being tired and worn down but pushing through it is invaluable in the cage.
What aspects of CrossFit do you feel transfer into the cage?
CrossFit strong is a different kind of strength then just lifting weight or running on a treadmill. For MMA being able to push, pull, and drag your weight, as fast and as hard as you can, for as long as you can, that wins fights. My goal as a fighter is to be explosive, strong, and quick to recover. That describes every CrossFit work out that I’ve done.
Both Women’s MMA and CrossFit are emerging sports do you see any similarities in the communities that support them?
I think both CrossFit and WMMA have dedicated fans. I love the environment in the gym. Everyone is cheering everyone on. In MMA we say “check your ego at the door” I feel like CrossFit is much like that. It’s about bettering yourself as well as the person next to you.
What motivates you to train and get in the cage?
My motivation is just the pursuit of being the best that I can be. I thrive under the pressure of a fight. I don’t think you can truly do your best unless you have no other choice
When you are walking out and before you enter the cage what is going through your head?
I get this question a lot and it’s hard to answer truthful and not sound like a jerk. I just keep telling myself that this person is trying to take it all away from me. How dare this person stand face to face with me and think they can hang. I work way too hard for too long to let her have the best of me. Nice things aren’t popping into my thoughts at that time. I have to prepare myself for WAR!!
What did it feel like to win your fight?
It feels amazing that night. Everyone is congratulating you and it feels like you are unstoppable. You get a couple days of bliss before you have to come plunging back to reality. I have this drive to constantly be improving. When I got home I watched the fight over and over, not to build myself up, but to look for my mistakes and ways to improve my game. Reality of this sport is you are only as good as your last fight.
You are currently ranked 5th in the world for your weight class, what’s next for you?
It’s exciting and scary. I finally get the recognition for all the years and hard work that I’ve put in. On the other hand many people are gunning for me now. I can’t get away with being “that mom from Iowa who does MMA”. This last year has been a game changer for me. For now I plan to fight for Invicta FC in April. I’m going to up my camp this time around. I’ll have a 10 week camp and I plan on traveling to different gyms in the US to get ready for war.