Resurrection Fighting Alliance 14’s Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger: Learning Patience From Fighting and Family
Article by Amber Boone (The M.M.A. Corner)
Ponder, for a moment, the miracle of human birth. Two tiny cells from two (hopefully mature, responsible, and loving) adults come together to form one cell. That one cell divides and multiplies exponentially over a period of about nine months and then, voila! If all goes well, a living, breathing tiny (and pretty much helpless) human is born.
Sometimes, anomalies occur. That one cell can split into two separate entities, and then they start the dividing and multiplying process. That little difference is what makes the phenomenon of identical twins possible. Of course, the cells can do all kinds of cool things, like make identical triplets, give one fighter a lucky fin or even make albinos, but let’s just focus on the radness of identical twins. Identical twins have the exact same genetic code, usually experience the exact same upbringing and, more often than not, have a connection to each other that most of us mere mortals can only dream of.
Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger is one of an identical set. Her sister, Jill Lybarger, is the other half of the super duo. Growing up, they were best friends. They played virtually every sport, including roller hockey and water polo, and even went to college as shooting guards for a junior college basketball team. One day, they drove by a gym and saw some guys using sledgehammers and giant tires. Curiosity got the best of them. Turns out, one of the guys was training for a fight—the girls had heard of Chuck Liddell, but they didn’t know that regular Joes and Jills were doing it, too. They went back the next day and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s easy to lump them together, the Lybarger Twins. Promoters and media types saw the rarity and decided to capitalize on it. Being a fighter is hard, especially in the beginning. Being a female fighter is even harder. Being half of a twin set that happens to be female, lesbian and also MMA fighters can be really really tough.
The old adage, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” is part of the human experience and is especially true for fighters. Sometimes, a twin needs to step out and create their own identity, just like a fighter must continually build on their base while turning weaknesses into strengths.
“We don’t train together,” explained Jocelyn during an interview with The MMA Corner. “It’s helped us create our own identities and to grow. She will be in for my last sparring session, and I am in her corner and she’s in mine, and she still supports me 100 percent as I do for her, but it’s really helped us both evolve.”
Jocelyn trains at the MMA Lab in Glendale and happens to train with some of the best in the business—you may have heard of Benson Henderson, Efrain Escudero and Jamie Varner, among many. With coaches and teammates of this caliber, the 2-1 fighter can be expected to excel.
“Coming off that loss [to Sarah Alpar] has me excited to show what I can do,” Jocelyn said. “I wasn’t focused. I thought she won’t/can’t take me down. I got cocky. Sarah caught my kicks because I lost focus. My lead hook was landing and her head was moving. I came in with a kick, and she took me down. She came out here recently, and we were sparring and training together. It felt good to get more rounds with her and to see that my takedown defense is getting better and, when she did get me down, I was getting up faster. I’ve also had Julia Budd and Jordan Nicole Gaza training with me, and Invicta FC champ Lauren Murphy is at my house right now. We’re just going non-stop.”
“It’s more of a mental thing. I am always trained and focused—my coaches, especially John Crouch, drill us to be prepared, and this time I will be ready,” predicted Jocelyn.
Her next fight comes against Rosa Acevedo, a 1-0 pro, on April 11 in Cheyenne, Wyo.
“From the videos and interviews I have seen, she claims to be more of a stand-up fighter. When the bell rings, she is going to come forward, and I plan to put her right on her back and keep her uncomfortable the whole fight. I have a Muay Thai background and [I] am not afraid to stand with her. I’m more than comfortable on my feet. And on fight day, I will have a big weight advantage to go along with my height advantage,” Jocelyn reasoned.
“Wrestling wins fights,” she repeated, like a mantra. Strength and conditioning is not a concern for Lybarger, nor is altitude.
“We’ve got fight camp down to a science. We know where to be and what to be doing at any given time, and we know the routine of what we need to do,” she said. “I am going up [to Cheyenne] early to help acclimate, but Flagstaff [Ariz.] is not far from us and is actually higher. That’s where we do a lot of our conditioning, so this shouldn’t be a problem. The weight cut should be easy, since we are doing a catchweight at 120 [pounds] and I fought multiple fights at 115 in my ammy career. I am ready.”
“I don’t hate the girls I fight. We become friends. But when I step in the cage, all that is going through my mind is, ‘I gotta kill her before she kills me,’” said Jocelyn.
It is a passion but it’s also a business and a means to support her family. She has been married to tri-athlete Jana Jones-Lybarger for almost a year now and they have two daughters.
“My wife and family support me 100 percent, and this is a great way for me to support them,” Jocelyn said.
Their daughters are eight and 10 years old, and they are very active. Both girls are swimmers, they play piano and they have changed Jocelyn’s mindset.
“Being married has made a big difference to us,” Jocelyn explained. “I look at the kids differently now that I am their stepmom, and they are teaching me a lot of patience [laughs].”
Finding one’s identity, passion and raison d’être can be difficult enough. Luckily for MMA and women’s MMA, the Lybarger twins found their paths to the sport together. The next step in Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger’s journey will definitely be an exciting one to watch. Don’t miss it.
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