Northampton MMA fighter Hayley Valentine 'overwhelmed' after professional debut win at Clan Wars in Ireland
"You go in there slightly nervous because it's so unpredictable but I did it, I went in there and beat a veteran, on my debut."
A Northampton woman, 24, is feeling 'overwhelmed' after winning on her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut.
Hayley Valentine, from Far Cotton, won via a unanimous decision against Catherine Costigan at Irish MMA promotion Clan Wars on Saturday (August 7).
The former Abbeyfield School student said: "It was my pro debut, which meant a lot to me. I've been training six years for this.
"This girl [Costigan] has been all over the MMA scene. I knew that coming up against her was going to be difficult but I put a lot of work into my fight camp and was prepared.
"She took one hell of a beating in the first round and I just carried on from there. She was scared to come into contact with me.
"I was really overwhelmed about how well it went. You go in there slightly nervous because it's so unpredictable but I did it, I went in there and beat a veteran on my debut. I'm really chuffed with myself.
"The atmosphere was great. It was three five-minute rounds but I could have been in there all day. Yeah, I smashed it."
Hayley, who trains out of BST MMA Academy in Sixfields, said she has found it tough finding a fight because she is 'so small'.
She said: "Trying to get a fight at atom weight - around 48 kg - has been difficult because I am so small.
"I feel in my prime at atom weight, but I have only been able to get amateur fights maybe once a year. Thankfully, my coach Danny managed to get me a professional fight."
And post-fight, Hayley has received well wishes from fans, with some saying she is an 'inspiration' for women in the MMA scene.
Hayley added: "That message touched me. I work day in and day out for this.
"My team is the best. Everyone really supported me, especially through Covid. It was amazing to get this fight. It all paid off."