Miranda Granger has been waiting her whole life for this moment.
Since the time she was first introduced to taekwondo at 4 years old, Granger has imagined being a mixed martial arts champion. Through the years of tireless daily workouts, the countless hours training in the gym, she’s pictured herself raising a title belt in the air and declaring herself the best.
Saturday night Granger gets her first shot to do that at the professional level.
The Snohomish native, who’s nicknamed “Danger,” will be fighting for a pro championship for the first time Saturday night when she faces Amy Montenegro for the vacant Dominate FC women’s strawweight (115 pounds) title.
“This is where I’ve wanted to be forever,” Granger said. “Ever since I was a little kid this is what I saw myself doing. Being here right now is a little surreal, just how far I’ve come in a short time and been able to accomplish. It’s surreal and I’m very excited.”
The Granger-Montenegro bout, scheduled for five five-minute rounds, is the headliner at Dominate FC 2, a 12-bout card that takes place Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Granger, a 26-year-old graduate of Glacier Peak High School who now lives in Arlington, is making waves in the MMA world. Fighting out of Charlie’s Combat Club in Everett, Granger had a storied amateur career in which she went 10-0 and won five championship belts before turning pro a year ago. Since then she’s won all three of her professional bouts, dominating the first two with first-round submissions before defeating experienced pro Jamie Thorton by second-round TKO in April.
Now she’s getting the biggest opportunity of her career. Tapology.com currently has Granger as the 25th-ranked female fighter pound-for-pound in the nation (there are no rankings by weight class for women). Winning a championship with the fledgling northwest-based Dominate FC could open up opportunities for Granger with more prestigious promotions such as UFC, Bellator MMA or Invicta FC.
So Granger is determined to make the most of it. She’s spent the past 10 weeks upping the level of her preparation beyond anything she’s done in the past, spending multiple hours in the gym and running at least six miles every day.
”She’s definitely prepared,” Granger’s trainer Charlie Pearson said. “She’s had a great training camp. She really hasn’t had many issues to worry about other than constantly improving her game, and she’s added some new tools to her toolbox.”
“(Preparing for a professional title bout) is definitely different,” Granger said. “I’m just really pushing myself to that point of wanting to throw up every single day. Usually by this point in my preparations all I’m thinking is that I want to eat or I want to get away from the gym. But I have no other thoughts in my mind other than this fight. This is the first time I’ve felt 100 percent physically and mentally focused.”
However, the title won’t come easy for Granger. Montenegro, a 34-year-old who fights out of Gracie Barra Northwest in Seattle, is a veteran who has competed at higher levels, appearing on The Ultimate Fighter Season 23 and fighting four times with Invicta FC. Montenegro has an 8-3 record, though she’s been less active in MMA recently with just two fights since January of 2017. Tapology.com has Montenegro as the 63rd-ranked female fighter pound-for-pound in the country.
Montenegro actually trained at Charlie’s Combat Club many years ago, and Granger said Montenegro will be the toughest opponent she’s ever faced.
“The fact I get to fight Amy Montenegro is huge,” Granger said. “I’ve watched her the majority of her career, she’s pretty strong everywhere. I think she would be mostly strong on the ground because of her background in jiu-jitsu, but I’m not underestimating her in any area. She made a name for herself in bigger organizations, so she’s doing something right. But wherever she goes I’ll be ready for it.”
“We’ve watched (Montenegro’s) tapes and she’s very durable, there’s no quit in her and she’s got a good skill set all around,” Pearson said. “But I feel Miranda should be victorious. Just being on the mat with her every day for however many years, I know how determined and focused she is. She’s going to be tough to beat.”
Granger isn’t the only fighter from Charlie’s Combat Club on Saturday’s card. Everett’s Joey Elzea is looking to defend his Dominate FC men’s bantamweight (135 pounds) championship. Elzea, who is 4-0 as a professional, is the current champion, having defeated Justin Hugo by heel hook in Dominate FC’s inaugural event in Feburary in Olympia.
The 29-year-old Elzea, who is Tapology’s top-ranked bantamweight in the Pacific Northwest, is facing Brandon Monteith, who has a 1-2 record.