PALMDALE – Antelope Valley resident Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor is regarded by her manager as a rising star in the once male-dominated world of mixed martial arts fighting.
Taylor, who competes in the strawweight class (between 106 and 115 pounds), will face off with Maria Andaverde, in the upcoming King of the Cage (KOTC) competition on Thursday, Oct. 2 at San Manuel Casino in Highland, Ca.
Taylor, who was a strawweight champion for King of the Cage as an amateur, is currently 3-0 undefeated as a professional, according to her trainer and manager, Rene Leyva. Her upcoming Battle for the Belt competition will determine if Taylor gets her shot at the KOTC Women’s Strawweight championship title.
“She’s really one of the most successful MMA fighters to ever come out of the Antelope Valley,” said Leyva, who has been coaching MMA fighters for nearly four years. “She’s the first female to become a professional (fighter in) anything here in the Antelope Valley. Since then, Paula Estrada has become a professional boxer. But as far as a (MMA) professional fighter at all, Danielle was the first one.”
Leyva said KOTC is a big deal for Taylor’s fighting career because it is recognized as one of the top mixed martial arts organizations, ranking just below Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator.
Getting into the ring at this level requires the right combination of talent and training, according to Leyva, who trains Taylor at SoCal Fight Factory in Palmdale.
Located at Palmdale Boulevard and 20th Street East, the MMA gym features boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling training – a diverse assortment of techniques that matches Taylor’s own experience. Taylor stands out in her field because she is a very well-rounded fighter, having a background in Karate and Tae Kwon Do before coming to the gym for training, her trainer said.
“Since she has been with us, which has been a little over three years, she’s competed in Jiu Jitsu, amatuer boxing, and competitive wrestling,” said Leyva, who also serves as Taylor’s agent, arranging her fights, as well as sponsorships. “She’s very competitive, and the different martial arts experience has made her a strong fighter all the way around – both on the ground and standing up. The majority of her fights have been won by TKO (Technical Knock Out).”
At 24 years old, “Dynamite” Taylor stands 5-foot-2 in height, 115 pounds, and considers the SoCal Fight Factory her second home. She loves to work out in her spare time and became involved in self-defense training in the first place due to her job as a custody assistant for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Santa Clarita.
“[I had] never been in a fight before, and I was a Sheriff’s security officer,” she said, noting that her MMA training coincided with joining the Sheriff’s department in 2010. “So my parents said I should take self defense, and I ended up joining SoCal because my dad is a boxing coach there.”
She admits to being a little nervous about trying MMA fighting at first, but said she quickly “ended up falling in love with it.”
The 2008 Quartz Hill High School graduate said what she likes the most about mixed martial arts fighting is that no two opponents are the same.
“I’ve always been very, very competitive, and every person is always different,” she said. “So I like to train hard, put everything I’ve learned to the test, and to push my body – I love working out.”
Leyva said Taylor is coming up through the ranks really fast, and he sees big matches headed her way.
“Give her another year or two, and you’re going to see her on the big show,” he said, referring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “It’s going to be really nice for those of us out here in the Antelope Valley that don’t get a lot of excitement to see somebody like Danielle – a very well-respected girl – go out and do something like the big show.”
The King of the Cage event, which will include Taylor’s bout, takes place at San Manuel Casino in Highland, Ca., starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2. More information on the MMA fight is available at http://www.sanmanuel.com.