The 2012 Miss United States is a beauty… and a beast on the mat. She tells how and why she gave up pageants for Brazil­ian jiu jitsu

Men's Fitness - - Exposure -


Not many women go from tiaras to take­downs, but just two years af­ter be­ing crowned Miss United States 2012 Whit­ney Miller com­peted in her first Brazil­ian jiu jitsu (BJJ) tour­na­ment. Miller took away a gold and sil­ver medal (for no-gi and gi dis­ci­plines, re­spec­tively), was in­stantly hooked and be­gan train­ing with some of the world’s best com­bat sports com­peti­tors to work to­wards a world cham­pi­onship.

You’ve been a TV pre­sen­ter, beauty pageant com­peti­tor and pro­fes­sional wake surfer. What led you to start do­ing BJJ?

I’m al­ways look­ing to chal­lenge my­self. One night I was watch­ing the UFC think­ing it would be fun to do, but I didn’t re­ally want to get hit in the face so I de­cided to get into the ground game. I went to classes but for the first two months I hated it. It was just so dif­fi­cult phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, but it slowly got a lit­tle eas­ier and I started get­ting ad­dicted to the tac­ti­cal as­pect of it. BJJ is a men­tal game as much as a phys­i­cal one, and I love play­ing a kind of live­ac­tion game of chess with my op­po­nent.

What ex­actly did you hate about it?

It hurt. Get­ting thrown down is no fun at all and I was train­ing with a bunch of guys and maybe one or two other girls in the class. I was get­ting wrecked ev­ery day, ei­ther choked out or arm-barred and as well as be­ing painful, it was so frus­trat­ing. Now, I’m bet­ter at con­trol­ling my emo­tions and not get­ting so an­noyed when I get beat.

We take it no-one was go­ing easy on you at first then…

No, not at all. I mean, come on – it was Miss United States, so they all wanted to knock her around a lit­tle bit, for real.

You’ve grap­pled with UFC feath­er­weight Cub Swan­son. Who are you train­ing with now?

Cub and I are both spon­sored by On­nit so we still train to­gether some­times. A lot of ath­letes come through our train­ing cen­tre and I’ve been lucky enough to prac­tise with a va­ri­ety of peo­ple, in­clud­ing [UFC mid­dleweights] An­drew Craig, Tim Kennedy, [UFC ban­tamweight cham­pion] TJ Dillashaw and [UFC com­men­ta­tor] Joe Ro­gan. They’re all awe­some, al­phamale style guys, so it’s al­ways in­cred­i­ble when­ever I man­aged to come out on top.

Of all the peo­ple you’ve trained with, who left you feel­ing the most de­stroyed?

It was ac­tu­ally the girls. [In­victa MMA cham­pion and new UFC sign­ing] Michelle Water­son stayed with me for a week or two. We’re about the same size, although she’s way bet­ter skill-wise and also su­per-strong, but she was a bit rusty on her BJJ at the time so I thought we would be evenly matched. I got the up­per hand a few times, but af­ter hours of go­ing at it I was shot. I kept cry­ing and was even swear­ing off of BJJ.

When you’re feel­ing like that, what makes you pick your­self up again?

The chal­lenge. And a lot of peo­ple look to­wards me as an in­spi­ra­tion. Peo­ple are like, ‘If she can do it, then I can too’ and that doesn’t even have to ap­ply just to BJJ. I get in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages from my fol­low­ers that pump me up and make me think, ‘Screw this. I’m go­ing to go back out there and do bet­ter.’

What’s scarier, walk­ing out at a beauty pageant or fight­ing BJJ?

There’s no com­par­i­son – fight­ing BJJ, 100%. Walk­ing up on stage in a pretty dress and throw­ing on a smile is real easy. Stand­ing face to face with some­body who could se­ri­ously in­jure you is not. Ev­ery fight could end with me get­ting choked out or hav­ing a limb bro­ken. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing, but what makes it so re­ward­ing is the only per­son who can stop that hap­pen­ing is me. Fol­low Whit­ney Miller on Twit­ter @Mis­s2Jits

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