Hanners throws down with power

hanners5112010It’s 5 p.m. at the Finney’s Mixed Martial Arts studio. The “school” is filled with students who are practicing grappling:a technique that is similar to wrestling. Fighters kick, lift and condition, training intensely for something; it can’t be seen, but they can feel it. Of the hard working students, only two of them are females, one of whom is junior Dani Hanners, a female MMA fighter in a sport dominated by men.


MMA has been a part of Dani’s life for the past two months, becoming a big part of her schedule. She trains Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for three hours. Sometimes though, she may be found at Finney’s- the devotion of an athlete that hasn’t played a sport before in her life.

“I wanted to do something that I could just do for myself and not anyone else,” Dani said. “I wanted to have a goal and work towards something.”

In mixed martial arts, a variety of different skills are combined to make one mesmerizing art. Grappling, boxing

and jiu-jitsu are just a few of the combined techniques.

“When I’m training it’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time,” Dani says.”No matter what or how sore I am I keep going for what I want.”

Even though there are other female fighters at Finney’s, they aren’t always there when Dani is for her to practice with. In these situations, she is forced to go up against men, but that doesn’t concern her.

“I definitely don’t feel intimidated when fighting a man,” Dani says. “because

in grappling you guys are pretty much at the same level or you learn off each other.”

For the short time that Dani has been involved in MMA, it has come to be a major part of her life. And that has brought it into her home, involving her parents in her experience as well.

“I know it’s a dangerous sport but she does her best at it,” Dani’s father Danny Hanners says. “When I’m watching her compete, cheering her, on that’s the best you can do for a dad.”

One of Hanners’ inspirations to compete in MMA was found in a world renowned athlete; Muhammad Ali.

“He’s definitely the greatest world boxer,” Dani said. “His quote: ‘I was the greatest before I knew I was.’ That’s basically what I live for. That’s my motto- if you don’t think you’re the greatest then who does?”

She was also inspired to do what she now loves by Brittany Anic- a confident and strong female MMA fighter who has won a U.S kick-boxing title.

“It has taught me to be confident and to be confident in what I do,” Dani said. “I just have a lot of self confidence and I know there’s still stuff I need to work on and I know I can be the best.”