Fight Path: Jinh Yu Frey looking to build on buzz of viral YouTube video sensation
She didn’t know it at the time, but whenÂ Jinh Yu Frey walked down the aisle of a weigh-in in Amarillo, Texas, years ago, and someone from the crowd asked with interest about her younger sister, events were in motion for a significant bump in her own fighting career.
Frey was an impressive amateur fighter at the time, and she attended the show in her hometown to support a friend who was on the card. She passed by a fighter who inquired about her sister, whom she was sitting next to.
She snapped at him, “Why don’t you focus on making weight?” That man, Douglas Frey, later became her husband.
“He says he didn’t ask about me because it looked like I was sitting with someone,” Frey told MMAjunkie with a laugh. “That’s his story, anyway.”
Frey’s marriage caused her move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where the access to higher-level training and development helped make her a viral video sensation in the MMA world. Now 2-0 as a professional, she’s balancing a career in the radiological sciences and a pursuit of an MBA with her budding fighting career.
That career became more difficult to advance in July when she scored a first-round knockout of Darla Harris that many christened one of the best knockouts of the year, at least in women’s MMA if not throughout the sport.
That video is up to nearly 2.3 million views on Frey’s YouTube account. Since, she has committed to multiple cards, but the fights haven’t come through, in part because opponents cite the vicious knockout as a reason to be wary of the new pro.
The 28-year-old Frey might have to face a much more experienced fighter for her next bout, which she’s working hard to find, recently signing up with a new manager.
“I guess it could be intimidating with that video out there,” she said. “It’s definitely made it a huge problem to find a fight.”
A growing interest Frey grew up in Amarillo in a family that featured plenty of combat sports experience. Her father trained extensively in Tae Kwon Do. So did her mother. So did her brother.
But she was never interested herself, choosing instead to pursue other sports, including softball, volleyball and track. She was particularly drawn to the idea that one could train with a team, but when competing there was just a person and a goal, no team to boost up or let down.
After high school she completed an associate’s degree in nuclear medicine and started down that career path.
“I work at a cancer center,” she said. “I do handle some radioactive material. I inject patients and do diagnostic testing.”
After finishing her first degree she moved to Lubbock. There, she started an interest in snowboarding and wakeboarding, and she joined a gym to stay in shape with plenty of treadmill running.
She noticed classes involving MMA training, which piqued her interest. At first, she just stayed for the hour of conditioning. Then a classmate needed a partner for the kickboxing, so she stayed for that hour. Then that classmate needed a partner for the jiu jitsu, so she stayed for that hour.
Within a few months, she made her amateur fighting debut.
“It was in New Mexico in November at night, so it was about 40 degrees,” she said. “It was freezing. I just wanted to finish it as fast as possible so I could put my coat back on.”
She did, scoring a win in less than two minutes. From then on, training and fighting would be part of her life.
Big boost Frey’s career didn’t jump in a hurry. She didn’t fight for a several-year span while she worked and pursuing another degree. She continued her training and interest in fighting, though.
That’s why she was at that show several years ago when she met a stranger who was asking about her sister. Later that night, as crowds from the show moved on to the local bars, she spotted the guy and approached him to apologize for snapping at him earlier. They started talking, which led to a marriage.
When Frey moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to live with her new husband, she sought out a gym. She immediately noticed the difference in the level of training and commitment.
But still, she hesitated becoming a professional because she had so many other things happening in her life (her education track would eventually lead to a bachelor’s degree and the current pursuit of her MBA). At one amateur show, however, the card needed a pro in her weight class, and she decided the extra money would be helpful.
She became a pro in April 2013 with a first-round submission. Just three months later, she took on Harris at a show in Oklahoma. The outcome would soon become famous.
“There were about 15 or 20 people from my gym there, and some other people wanted to see what happened,” she said. “So I edited the video and put it on YouTube. Then it started to get picked up.
“One day my phone was blowing up with people telling me it was on the front page of Yahoo! I pulled it up, and it had like 40,000 hits. Then in a couple days it had over a million.”
Frey was unfortunately not able to take full advantage of the buzz to score another fight because she was recovering from surgery on her hand. Now fully recovered, she’s looking for her next opportunity, which has been complicated by the video’s success.
“On one card I tried, three or people turned down the fight,” she said. “I signed with a new manager, so I’m hoping something can happen soon.”
Last week, Kevin Croom told us about his run-in with a former classmate while working a gas station graveyard shift and how that drove him to an MMA career. On Friday at Titan FC 27, he ran his winning streak to 10 straight with a unanimous decision victory over Bryan Goldsby.
Award-winning newspaper reporter Kyle Nagel pens “Fight Path” each week. The column focuses on the circumstances that led fighters to a profession in MMA. Know a fighter with an interesting story? Email us at news [at] mmajunkie.com.