Photo: Tony Carmardella
Most people have some version of a bucket list; go to this place. Do that thing.
Whatever it may be, it is something that is probably important enough for you be intentional about. Otherwise, it wouldn't be on your bucket list.
Trying one’s hand at combat sports is typically something that is NOT a bucket list item. This was exactly how Rebekah “Queen Bee” Rotenberry wound up in the world of Kickboxing, and soon to be MMA. "A friend asked if I was interested, and I said sure why not," she cheerfully remembered.
Rebekah, or “Bee” as her fight family calls her, carries the distinct honor of being the first ever kickboxing champion in the state of Alabama, male or female. Her fight was just the second ever kickboxing fight in the state. Her history making fight came about after her trainer Jeremy Phillips (owner of The Garage Kickboxing) made a request to Strike Hard to get the fight elevated to a title fight. The request was granted and it was up to her to do the rest. When asked about the night, she initially answered with one word; Wild. She would go on to describe what that championship night was like.
“It was so many people there. It was a packed house. I was nervous because it was the first time I had fought at home (in Birmingham, AL) since my first fight, which I lost. There was some pressure on me to win because I didn’t want to let everyone down,” she recalls. “I remember it was a really late fight. I didn’t get to the ring until around 9:30. I knew that if I sat in the crowd and watched my teammates fight it would get me worked up and off my game, so I just stayed in the back, listening to music and stretching."
She would go on to win a tough split decision and immortalize her name in the Alabama combat history books.
After her fight she talked about the excitement and pride she felt after winning in front of her hometown fans, a much different experience from her debut fight. She went on to describe her first time in the cage.
“I just didn’t feel like myself. I felt heavy, I felt tired. felt slow. I didn’t feel good at all,” she spoke of her debut. She would go on to lose her first fight, a loss that she took heavily.
“I remember repeatedly apologizing to my coach and breaking down crying when I got to the back. It really bothered me. When I got back to the gym everyone was telling me how proud of me they were, but it didn’t make a difference. I was hurt.”
Bee managed to turn her hurt in wins as she would go 3-1 in her next 4 fights.
And even though winning is very important to her, it’s only a part of the reason she became a fighter. “When I first got into fighting, it was more of a bucket list thing. I really was just wanting to see if I could do it. Now I view fighting as a challenge. Every time I step inside the cage I’m challenging myself in ways that I never thought were possible. Every fight I've had is a challenge I’ve overcome, and that's something I’m very proud of."
Her trainer Jeremy Phillips shares the same thoughts on her mindset.
“She’s unbelievable. She’s everything you want in a fighter. She comes in here 7 days a week and gives it everything she’s got. She’s a nurse so her schedule’s a little chaotic but she still makes training a priority. I’ve worked with many fighters on many levels and she works as hard as any I’ve seen, male of female. I’m excited about what the future holds for her.”
After having her first MMA date scrapped due to her opponent dropping out, she looks to make her official MMA debut on August 3, if not sooner.
Bee is looking to continue developing not only as a fighter, but a person. From the looks of it, she's doing a great job at both.