On the hunt: Northwest Colorado native Holli Salazar stepping up for pro-level mixed martial arts | CraigDailyPress.com

On the hunt: Northwest Colorado native Holli Salazar stepping up for pro-level mixed martial arts

Holli Salazar trains in kickboxing tactics with Andrew Yates at Grand Junction's Golden Fights MMA Gym. Salazar, a Northwest Colorado native and Hayden High School graduate will compete in a pro fight Jan. 17 as part of Alaska Fighting Championship.

A huntress is making her way to Alaska, and she's planning to come back home with something more than a mere animal slung over her shoulder.

Northwest Colorado native Holli Salazar will compete in Alaska Fighting Championship 136, stepping into action against Maura Tynanes Jan. 17 at Anchorage's Alaska Airlines Center, an event that's part of Ultimate Fighting Championship and will air live on UFC Fight Pass.

Salazar, who graduated from Hayden High School in 2009 and Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2013, currently lives in Grand Junction and has been training in mixed martial arts for more than two years, specializing in kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.

All the forms flow into one another, though it's kickboxing she feels is her main strength.

"They all go together, and if you can be strong at all of them, you can really control your opponent," she said. "I really enjoy the ground work and learning different submissions, but my stand-up is probably my strongest."

Salazar holds a 2-2 record at the amateur level, including a win by submission that only took 40 seconds.

Recommended Stories For You

Salazar, 26, grew up a multi-sport athlete, competing in volleyball and basketball and regularly visited the high school state championships for track and field throwing events, including a 2A title in the shot put.

She also threw during her time in college, and it's an "explosiveness" in the lower body she developed over the years that remains part of her physicality.

However, it was another sporting pursuit that her the moniker she uses for combat — "The Huntress." The nickname comes from her time back home in Northwest Colorado, spent with her father, Jeff.

"I go every year with my dad, it's kind of our thing," she said.

Salazar trains at Junction's Golden Fights MMA Gym with seasoned Octagon competitor Andrew Yates.

Besides the usual regimen she describes for anyone who takes their workouts seriously — "diet, discipline, consistency" — she said she and those in her circle refuse to take things lightly.

"I'm one of the bigger girls at the gym, so they're always pushing me to go harder," she said.

Yates in particular has had an effect on how she has trained, and he was the catalyst for getting Salazar involved in MMA.

"He's pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go," she said.

Yates was also instrumental in arranging the upcoming bout, describing Salazar's natural athleticism and dedication as an indicator that she's ready for the big time.

"I tell people, you dedicate yourself, prove yourself, I'll get you the biggest fight I can," he said.

He added that he'll be in her corner watching with pride as she unleashes combos they've spent countless hours perfecting.

Salazar's pro debut has been big on her mind as she and her friends and family prepare for what could be one of the biggest moments of her life.

Still, she refuses to build it up too much mentally.

"I'm just ready to get in there and get it done," she said.