If you ask most of Adrienna “AJ” Jenkins’ classmates from Kapa’a High School about what she’s been up to the past seven years since graduation, they’ll probably tell you something very different they’ll probably tell you something very different from what she’s been doing.
“When they see me on the internet with my fight photos, they’re like ‘What happened, she was so quiet in high school,'” Jenkins said in a phone interview.
On Saturday, March 25, her classmates and others will be able to see for the first time — AJ in action against Arizona’s Mystee Blackwood at Hanation against Arizona’s Mystee Blackwood at Hanapepe Stadium.
The Third Annual Garden Isle MMA Cage Match makes its outdoor debut on the island, with a slew of Kaua’i fighters, as well as top contenders from all over the mainland and state converging at the westside venue.
“It’s my first fight on Kaua’i and in the state as well,” Jenkins said.
But what’s more exciting to Jenkins is the fact that she’ll be in her hometown with her biggest fans that she’ll be in her hometown with her biggest fans watching.
“This is probably the biggest fight of my life. My mom guys get to see it. It feels like a world title fight,” Jenkins said.
But there’s more than in-the-ring action for the 5’9″ 135 lbs. mixed martial artist, who is currently in Iowa, studying to become a physical therapist. Her roots in the islands remain strong, with her mom holding down the fort on Kaua’i and her dad residing on Moloka’i.
The 1999 Kapa’a graduate went to Kaua’i Community College (KCC) and then ventured off to O’ahu and did a little bit of schooling, before heading off to St. Ambrose College in Iowa.
Along the way, she got engaged to former UFC Along the way, she got engaged to former UFC lightweight champ, Jens Pulver, who was basically the reason for her move to the midwest.
Last year, Pulver and Jenkins held MMA seminars on the island, which supported the Kapa’a Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s good for rape prevention and it just keeps me in really good shape,” Jenkins said about the sport. When she was 17, a friend challenged her to become an MMA fighter, so to prove him wrong, she started training with Bruno Ewald. “I started flying to O’ahu to do tournaments and I also ended up training with Relson Gracie. I really go into it after that. It’s a constant sport. There’s always something to learn,” Jenkins said.
She’s currently under the direction of world-renowned Team Miletech and also trains with Alley Cat Boxing Club.
Though she seems fairly new to the sport with just a 4-1 record, Jenkins remains confident that she’ll keep on fighting as long as there are other women who want to fight.
“There are two sides to it. There aren’t many MMA women fighters, so it might not go anywhere and in a way your confidence depletes, but I do feel confident that I’m a part of something that not a lot of people do,” Jenkins said.
But for now, she’ll concentrate on her next opponent, Mystee Blackwood, who mostly utilizes the art of kickboxing.
“I’m figuring it’s going to be a good stand up fight. I just usually train for what I like to do,” Jenkins said.
See Kapa’a’s Jenkins in the largest fight card ever on the island on March 25 at Hanapepe Stadium. A special weighin and autograph session is scheduled to rock Kuku’i Grove’s Center Stage on March 24. General admission tickets are $25 and $30 at the door. Ringside seats are available for $35. Tickets can be purchased at Meyvn Skate in Lihu’e, Tropical Tantrum in Kapa’a, Dynamic Tinting in Puhi, Sweet and Sassy in ‘Ele’ele, Westside Sporting Goods in Waimea, M&H Service in Waimea, and Wong’s Restaurant in Hanapepe. Doors for the event open at 5 p.m.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garden Isle MMA Cage Match #3
March 24: Weighins, autograph session, Kukui Grove, 5 p.m.
March 25: Fights at Hanapepe Stadium, doors open at 5 p.m.