Army vet and entrepreneur Elise Reed puts her title on the line at CFFC 91

Elise Reed has her hand raised in the Bellator cage. Credit: Lucas Noonan, Elise Reed, Facebook.

Elise Reed (2-0), 28, was accomplished before she became Cage Fury Fighting Championship’s (CFFC) strawweight champion. A US Army reservist, an Iraq war veteran, Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) highest-ranking female graduate, a third-degree Taekwondo black belt, and the owner and Chief Instructor of Kickside MMA, Reed has shown a clear pattern of determination, organization, toughness, and, as she aptly put it in her 2015 address to the Virginia Military Institute, her “grit” emerges.

However, toughness and grit haven’t been much of a factor in her MMA career, as the Renaissance woman has barely seen adversity thus far.

As with many MMA fighters transitioning from Taekwondo, movement is featured heavily in Reed’s style. Very few strikes land cleanly on her, as she’s always stepping or leaning just out of range.

When moving forward, she has a light-on-her-feet, in-and-out style. Reed will frequently throw a three or four strike combination, then back out before her opponent can return fire, leaving her safe and able to counter if she’s chased.

If given space, Reed will hit her opponent with a wide variety of kicks, changing the leg she throws with, her target, the angle, and even chaining kicks together, keeping her opponent unable to predict where or how they’ll be hit next.

Being pressured doesn’t seem to bother Reed, either. In her strawweight title fight with Jasmine Jasudavicius (4-1) at CFFC 83, Reed managed to have success as the out-fighter despite a purported six-inch height disadvantage.

With Reed’s previous fight being at atomweight, Jasudavicius, a former flyweight, seemed determined to march Reed down and unload on her against the cage. Reed never let it happen. Coming in with a clear stick-and-move gameplan, Reed incessantly circled along the fence. When given space, Reed would kick, then exit to the side.

Every time Jasudavicius got aggressive, Reed was already circling out and using the opportunity to get a better cage position. Reed rarely looked uncomfortable. Jasudavicius’ main success in the fight came from her takedowns, but even then, Reed generally managed to sweep and return to her feet. While one judge rewarded Jasudavicius’ control time with a scorecard, the others saw it 29-28 for Reed.

Unfortunately, Reed’s size will likely continue to be an issue for her as she progresses up the divisional ladder and moves on to bigger promotions. Standing approximately 5’2″ with a light build, Reed seems best-suited to atomweight, a division the UFC, for example, has hesitated to add to the roster.

While Reed displays impressive cardio as a result of her physique, she’s often fighting at a significant height and reach disadvantage, with no apparent strength advantage to make her time in the pocket count. This may prevent her from signing with the UFC; however, she already has a win in Bellator’s atomweight division, and Invicta FC seems like a great fit as she continues to build her skillset.

It’s also worth considering that Reed has done all of this while training at Kickside MMA, a gym at which she is the owner, and second only to the Senior Chief Instructor, John Kanabay, who also corners her.

If she is able to expand her team and training partners and continue winning high-profile fights against increasingly talented opposition, larger promotions are virtually guaranteed to be in her future.

First, however, she needs to defend her title this Saturday against Jillian DeCoursey (4-2) at CFFC 91.