Jayde Sheeley

These next few images are ones that I recently turned in as part of a larger series of photos telling the story of an Ohio University student looking to go professional in Mixed Martial Arts fighting. The first critique was an eye-opener, and I definitely learned some of the do's and don't's of telling a story with photos. I have a lot to work on, and hopefully I can improve with my upcoming stories.

Ohio University student Jayde Sheeley is not your typical senior. While many of her peers are simply trying to finish their last couple semesters, Sheeley is pursuing a Sociology-Criminology major while training to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. MMA fighting is an extreme contact sport that is a mix of cage fighting, grappling, kickboxing, boxing, and judo. Inspired by her father, a world-class MMA fighter and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) coach, Sheeley began Kung Fu fighting when she was five years old. Once she turned 18, Sheeley began entering amateur cage fighting competitions, bringing her amateur fighting record to 2-1. “This sport is so different and it gives me the chance to break the stereotypes for women. That’s why I love it,” says Sheeley. “The first time I got kicked in the face, I was pretty surprised, but I learned how to get back up and keep going.” Upon graduation, Sheeley hopes to sign with the UFC fighting league to become a professional fighter.

Jayde Sheeley poses for a portrait with her fighting gloves after her training session in the Ping Center in Athens, Ohio, on September 9, 2015. When asked about the intensity of the sport, Sheeley responds, "I kinda like getting black eyes. My dad told me before my first match that my face was probably gonna look like shit the next morning. But then I walked away with only one little bruise and I was like 'Seriously, I suffered through that match and got nothing?'" (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Jayde Sheeley poses for a portrait with her fighting gloves after her training session in the Ping Center in Athens, Ohio, on September 9, 2015. When asked about the intensity of the sport, Sheeley responds, "I kinda like getting black eyes. My dad told me before my first match that my face was probably gonna look like shit the next morning. But then I walked away with only one little bruise and I was like 'Seriously, I suffered through that match and got nothing?'" (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley applies hand wraps that she wears under her boxing gloves before her training session at the Ping Center on September 9, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. Hand wraps provide stability for the bones when boxing and prevent the skin from blistering. (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley applies hand wraps that she wears under her boxing gloves before her training session at the Ping Center on September 9, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. Hand wraps provide stability for the bones when boxing and prevent the skin from blistering. (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley stretches before beginning her training session at the Ping Center on August 31, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. Sheeley stretches for at least ten minutes before every training session to prevent injury while training. (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley stretches before beginning her training session at the Ping Center on August 31, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. Sheeley stretches for at least ten minutes before every training session to prevent injury while training. (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley does a side kick while "shadow boxing" during her training session at the Ping Center on September 9, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. "The first time I got kicked in the face in practice, another female fighter kicked my nose and I got tears in my eyes but I got back up. After that I learned to start using the bruises as my trophies," says Sheeley. (©2015 Sarah Stier)

Sheeley does a side kick while "shadow boxing" during her training session at the Ping Center on September 9, 2015, in Athens, Ohio. "The first time I got kicked in the face in practice, another female fighter kicked my nose and I got tears in my eyes but I got back up. After that I learned to start using the bruises as my trophies," says Sheeley. (©2015 Sarah Stier)