No matter who she shares the cage with, Melissa Croden holds nothing but respect for her opponent.
Croden, 28, was originally scheduled to face Ana Maria Pal, but Pal was forced out of the contest, opening the door for Schroder to step in and make her professional debut.
Despite the opponent change on less than two week’s notice, Croden said her preparation and mindset remain the same.
“I try to treat it as the same. I always try to treat my opponent with the most respect I can possibly muster up because they deserve it,” said Croden in an interview with MMA Empire.
“You never know who you’re dealing with or what they’re capable of until you actually get in there. My coach and I always talk about how you’re looking at your opponent as if they’re a mirror. You want to do the work just as bad as they do, so you have to treat everyone like the best martial artist on the planet.”
Including her amateur career, Croden has averaged two fights per year over the past couple years, despite some difficulty finding fights.
And while typically the more fights the better, Croden said she doesn’t get down or frustrated when a fight falls through or doesn’t come to fruition.
“I think these things are kind of happening for a reason, to get me ready for my future,” said Croden.
“I’ve fought a lot of tough women, but maybe they didn’t have the experience I do. Down the road, I’m going to be fighting women that are tough, but also have the experience and skills that I have. That’s kind of what’s on my mind, rather than rushing to get there.”
After an impressive 5-0 amateur career, Croden kicked off her professional career at Fight Night 11 in September with a third round TKO victory over Jolinne Maissonueve.
Now heading into her second professional bout after having already experienced the differences between amateur and professional, Croden said she feels the professional rules suit her game much better.
“It felt good to have those extra two minutes because three minutes, for me, goes by so quickly,” said Croden.
“That extra two minutes gives you a little more time to set things up, feel your opponent out, see what their reactions are, and how they move. It’s actually a good thing for me.”
After making her Fight Night debut in September, Croden signed a five-fight deal with the promotion, which begins with Saturday’s contest.
Croden said she’s happy with the deal she signed on for, and believes it was the best move to help progress her career.
“When they offered me the contract after my last fight, I gave it a week or two to think about because I didn’t want to loop myself into anything, but the contract says if any big promotions come knocking on the door, they will essentially let me go,” said Croden.
“It’s basically a good way to commit to always getting ready for fights. They’ve put so much effort into finding me opponents, so I’m really lucky to have this contract.”
“I’d like to thank everyone at Crowsnest Martial Arts, my coach Dan Miller, all the girls I train with at our gym, Lee Mein, everyone at CMC, and my mom and dad.” Follow Croden on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM