Canadian fighters are getting more opportunities to shine and Melissa Croden will look to do just that on Saturday.
Pallas Athena WFC will host it’s inaugural event, Pallas Athena WFC 1, showcasing a talent-loaded all-female card from the Grey Eagle Events Centre in Calgary, Alta. Blairmore, Alta.’s Croden (2-1) will look to bounce back from her first professional loss when she battles Edmonton’s Jackie MacLean (1-0).
It hasn’t been the easiest road back for Croden after falling by split decision at Titan FC 67 back in Feb. 2021. Going undefeated through five fights as an amateur and her first two as a professional, it was the first taste of defeat for the fighter out of Crowsnest Martial Arts.
“I hadn’t really been chasing a fight for the last bit. Obviously, I came off a loss and that can kind of bring you down, especially with the type of person I am,” Croden said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It’s hard to deal with on so many different levels. I had some improvements to make in the cage and as a person. Everything has kind of been timed in a way that feels right, if that makes sense. I haven’t necessarily been chasing a fight but more so just waiting for it to come to me.”
The mental side of fighting can sometimes be overlooked, but not for Croden.
She said her last bout wasn’t the type of performance she was looking for and after taking a step back and acknowledging the issues she’ll have an opportunity to correct those mistakes Saturday night.
“There’s so much psychology that goes into a fight I don’t know if I even want to open up that can of worms. But it’s more about training my mind to make it happen and physically everything falls into place,” Croden said.
“In my last fight I just seemed to freeze. I wasn’t responding, I wasn’t myself. I didn’t really find a groove until the third round and I paid for that. I was a lot more defensive and that’s something I’ve addressed in this camp. This last year really has been all about finding my roots a bit more, going back to how I was brought up as a fighter by my coaches and bringing it back better and more evolved.”
When she is on her game, Croden is a force to be reckoned with. All of her wins, both professional and amateur, have come inside the distance.
But despite all of her finishes coming on the feet, Croden wants people to know she can hold her own on the mat as well. Croden would love for the opportunity to display her grappling repertoire, but she prefers to do it on her terms.
“My striking is definitely eye-catching, but I’m also a very good grappler,” Croden explained.
“I don’t think a lot of people know because I’ve never really had to grapple in my fights. I always want it to be my choice to grapple. I don’t want to fall into their game plan. If someone takes me down I’m not just going to lay on my back and hope for a sub while I’m getting my face smashed. That’s just not how I was trained. We always want to control where the fight takes place.”
Croden typically controls the fight with nice footwork and precision striking, and tends to wear her opponents down with volume on the feet.
Croden said she has a lot of respect for MacLean heading into their matchup but feels she is more than ready for what she brings to the cage.
“As far as I know, she isn’t afraid to take a hit to get a takedown,” Croden said.
“We’ve definitely prepared for a more brawly stance; she’s gonna stand in the pocket and exchange strikes. It’s mostly the same game plan that I’ve had for most of my opponents. I think they usually want to pressure me to close the distance and look for a takedown.”