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Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

Ruth Cashes in Contract

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Rebecca Ruth relishes competition.

She's thrived on it her whole life, immersed in a multitude of sports. It carried over into adulthood when she became a Golden Gloves champion.

Come Friday, Ruth gets the opportunity of her competitive life when she faces the Ukraine's Lena “Hunter” Ovchynnikova on the main card (and televised live on Spike) at Bellator 150, which takes place at Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.

“I am definitely looking at this as a life changer,” Ruth said. “Bellator said they are going to crown a 125-pound champion in 2016 and I'm ready to show that I am in the running for that title. My weight is on par, training is on schedule, and I feel strong and hungry.”

Ruth, 37, is 5-1 and earned this opportunity by winning the Shamrock FC flyweight title, guaranteeing her a Bellator contract.

Ovchynnikova is a seasoned competitor, piling up a 10-3 record, but going 2-3 in her last five outings. She hasn't fought MMA in over a year and she’s gone 3-1 in her last four professional kickboxing/Muay Thai bouts, even capturing the WBC Muay Thai women’s world flyweight title from Ruth Ashdown. In her last fight she defeated Patrizia Gibelli for the Boxxtomoi Muay Thai title. But she's no one-trick pony. Of her 10 MMA wins, eight have come by submission.

“She is going to be a force in all areas,” Ruth said. “It's hard to decide what she's going to do but we're ready for everything.”

At Bellator 150, fighters will have the option to weigh-in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m Thursday, six hours prior to the typical 4 p.m. weigh-in start time. The idea is to give fighters more time to re-hydrate after their weight cuts. If a fighter does not want to weigh-in between 10 and 2, he or she can still do it during the regular, 4 p.m. weigh-in. Per Kansas Athletic Commission rule, if a fighter misses weight during any of those periods of time, he or she will still have two hours from that point to attempt to make the contracted limit.

“I'm all about it,” Ruth said about the early weigh-in option. “That is right up my alley. I should be at weight no problem and this gives me more time to hydrate and eat some good carbs. It doesn't make sense to me to sit around all day and wait. I think it's better off for the fighters.”

Ruth has crafted her skill set under the tutelage of Benny Voyles at Pacific's 21st Century Defense. A seasoned athlete (she played a variety of sports in high school including softball, volleyball and basketball and would later move on to the college level and compete in softball at Meramec Community College before getting to play NCAA Division I softball at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville), Ruth came in that first day simply as a mother looking to get a workout. But once her skillset in kickboxing started to develop, Voyles encouraged her to try out a local competition.

She began kickboxing in 2006 at the age of 28 and posted a 9-0 record in the amateur ranks. Ruth stepped into the boxing ring and was a St Louis Golden Gloves Champion in the 2011 with a 3-0 record fighting up a class.

“I don't have a mean bone in my body,” Ruth said. “But that competitive edge took over again.”

The kickboxing scene started to dissipate and so Ruth went to the next option.

“I decided it was time to get the small gloves on,” she said. “It was 2012 and I started in with the wrestling and BJJ.”

During those early days at 21st Century there was a talented youngster by the name of Justin Lawrence (Voyles' son) who was also learning the striking and grappling game with Ruth underneath the same roof. Lawrence went on to gain notoriety on The Ultimate Fighter, fight in the UFC, win a RFA title, and is now a member of the Bellator roster.

“(Justin) was still pretty young,” Ruth said. “We would work out. Some would call it sparring but it was more like me shadow boxing because I could never land anything.”

Ruth, Voyles and the rest of the 21st Century crew were all set to move into their new gym in Pacific when the winter floods caused damage and set things back.

“It flooded our entire bottom half,” Ruth said. “We had to go back to the old gym a little bit until the new one was up and running. The new place is great and there's a lot of room to work with. But I kinda miss the old place. I have a lot of memories there but I'm also looking forward to creating new ones here.”

Ruth started her pro MMA career winning two-straight. She made a trip down to 115 and fought for the RFA in October, 2014, where she lost a split decision to current UFC strawweight Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-2). After that loss, she returned to 125 and has rattled off three-straight TKO wins.

“Benny is the best striking coach around and one of the best in the U.S.,” Ruth said. “He has a ton of people reaching out to him. I have been so lucky to have him coaching me every single day.”

Bellator 150

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9PM ET)

Marcos Galvao vs. Eduardo Dantas – for bantamweight title
Cheick Kongo vs. Vinicius Queiroz
Bobby Cooper vs. David Rickels
Francisco France vs. Kendall Grove
Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Rebecca Ruth

PRELIMINARY CARD (MMAjunkie 7PM ET)

Gregory Babene vs. Brandon Farran
Gaston Reyno vs. Chuka Willis
David Hammons vs. Kyle Noblitt
Chris Harris vs. Julian Marque
Henry Lindsay vs. Marcio Navarro
Deron Charlis vs. Thai Clark
Andre Fialho vs. Manuel Meraz
Jonathan Gary vs. Jason Witt

Cage Champs 58 | Sat, October 28th
Big Eagles Hall, Sullivan, MO

Shamrock FC 297 (XFN) | Sat, November 11th
Lumiere Casino, St. Louis, MO

FFA: MMA vs Wrestling | Sat, November 11th
Lamborghini Gold Coast Center, St. Charles, MO

Shamrock FC 298 | Sat, November 18th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO