Sherdog Prospect Watch: Kristy Obst

By Jacob Debets Jun 14, 2019
Before Australia’s Kristy Obst stepped into the cage to throw hands, she dreamed of becoming a famous actress. Growing up in a small town several hours from Western Australia’s capital of Perth, Obst -- at the time a hairdresser -- moved to the big city in her early twenties with designs on it being a pitstop on the way to the bright lights of Hollywood. She attended acting classes, went to auditions, acted in student films and met a long list of interesting people. After realizing the transformative impact of personal training, however, she changed course and began a career in the fitness and wellness industry. That career change exposed her to muay Thai, a sport in which she immediately began training and competing, and eventually led her to pursue MMA.

After an amateur run of 3-1 in Queensland’s Eternal MMA promotion, Obst threw her hat into the ring for the ONE Warrior tryouts in Sydney earlier this year and she was selected to compete opposite Thailand’s Claudia Diaz at One Warrior Series 5 in Singapore. Obst won her professional debut via TKO in the second round, keeping her aspirations for a One Champion contract -- and a world title – intact. At the time of writing, she’s waiting to hear about her next OWS booking.

Obst caught up with to talk about her journey from small-town hairdresser to one of Australia’s most promising flyweight prospects. In a wide-ranging interview, Obst spoke candidly about her early twenties, the transition from muay Thai to MMA, working as a personal trainer while chasing down a dream and making up for lost time.

“I was a hairdresser originally,” Obst said of her humble beginnings. “I grew up in a small country town. Probably about three and a half hours out of Perth. It was a very small country town. I wasn’t sporty or active in any way, shape or form as a kid growing up. I actually moved to the city because I wanted to be an actress. I was like, ‘I’m going to Hollywood’ … I just always wanted more, and knew that I was destined for more -- for bigger things. I had to move to the city to find out whatever that was for me.

“I wouldn’t say I got very far [in acting],” she continued. “But I did a heap of classes. I met so many cool people and had so much fun. I did a few short student films. There were a couple of web series, which I don’t think ever got brought out anywhere. Nothing too big, but it was super fun. From there, I started getting fit [and] going to the gym. I was working with a personal trainer. I just noticed how getting fitter and looking after myself changed my mental state, how much better and happier I felt. That just inspired me to change my career path. I got into fitness from there, and that snow-balled into muay Thai and then into MMA.”

Obst’s exposure to muay Thai came courtesy of a colleague at the gym she was working at, and after test-driving some academies and finding the right one Obst began training regularly. Less than a year later, after being invited to the fighters’ class by her head coach, she made her amateur debut and put together a 4-2 record on the Western Australian circuit.

“I’m the kind of person that, when I decide to do something, I give it everything I’ve got,” Obst said of her muay Thai adventure. “I really enjoyed pushing myself to my limits, seeing how far I could go at the start. That’s what drove me. I’m one of those people, if I’m going to do this, why not give yourself the best opportunity to go as far as you can? When you’re fighting, you’re around so many likeminded people trying to do the same thing. That’s a really awesome part of it as well.

“[After that], I actually got really sick. I was working really hard and training really hard, I had all this other stuff going on, and I got adrenal fatigue, which is kind of on the way to chronic fatigue. I was literally wiped out for like a year. The most intense thing I could do was a very chilled-out yoga class. That was all my body could handle.”

For a time, Obst thought that her fighting days were behind her, but she remained enamoured by combat as an art form. She wandered into an MMA gym one afternoon to try her hand at jiu-jitsu, setting off a chain of events that led her all the way to Singapore and beyond.

“At that time, I thought, ‘There’s no way in hell I can ever fight again,’” Obst recounted. “I just didn’t think my body could cope [but] I’d done enough healing and learning, and sorting myself out, that I was starting to feel capable of training more. I walked into an MMA gym -- they had a day class, and that was when my body was OK to train -- just for a jiu-jitsu class. I thought of it as ‘just for fun’. Then my coach [Ryan Robertson], whose now my partner, he asked, ‘Do you want to fight?’ I said that I’ll love to, but this is what’s been happening in my life, I don’t know if I can. He was like, ‘Let’s work around it, let’s get you in there.’”

Obst, who turned 30 last month, credits her rebirth in MMA to Robertson, who guided her through an amateur career that spanned four fights -- three of them wins -- in 2018 before she turned professional. Looking back on the last 15 months, over the course of which Obst has competed an average of once every three months, she admits that she’s making up for lost time.

“It’s really his belief in me that has gotten me to where I am now,” she said of her partner in crime. “He was like, ‘You’ll be pro in a year, we’ll get you here, we’ll get you there’. I was always blown away, like is that even a possible, real thing? I see what he sees now.

“You don’t have a long period of time,” she continued. “There is an end date, when your body goes, ‘Nah, we can’t do this anymore.’ It’s the way I am, too; I just want to learn as much as possible, grow and compete. I didn’t start as such a young age. I guess there is that bit of making up for lost time, [of] giving it everything. One day you won’t be fighting anymore, so why not give it everything you’ve got?”

Obst is walking the walk, putting her fighting career ahead of her personal training and life coaching business in pursuit of the big time. That journey began in earnest with her first victory for One Warrior Series in April, and Obst was happy to detail, with infectious enthusiasm, her experience from filling out the online application to facing off against Claudia Diaz a couple of months later in Singapore.

“Ryan heard about the [Australian] tryouts,” Obst recalled. “There was an application process. Him, myself and one of the other guys that we train with applied. I initially wasn’t going to because I’m an amateur, but Ryan convinced me too. We filled out an application, there was a bunch of questions and you had to link all your Facebook [and] Instagram [pages], link some videos, [and] then I got an e-mail back saying that I was accepted, so that was really crazy. We hustled around to get enough money to go to Sydney and tryout. The tryout process was so intense. I got in, and that was really exciting. It wasn’t too long after that that I got matched for April.

“I was quite nervous,” she admitted of her experience going from the locker room to the ring. “I definitely felt the pressure. But I talk about what’s going through my head all the time with Ryan. We make sure we’re flushing out those fears always. As soon as I stepped in that ring, I felt super comfortable and just ready to go. Whatever the process was leading up, as soon as I stepped in there I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ Those doubts disappear and you just focus on the fight.”

Obst -- who received a Warrior Bonus (cash prize) for her TKO victory over Diaz -- is now waiting by the phone for her next OWS assignment.

As for her expectations as to what her future holds:

“I’m going to take this all the way, as far as I possibly can,” she stated before the interview concluded. “I see myself wearing belts. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Jacob Debets is a law graduate and writer from Melbourne, Australia. He has been an MMA fan for more than a decade and trains in muay Thai and boxing at DMDs MMA in Brunswick. He is currently writing a book analyzing the economics and politics of the MMA industry. You can view more of his writing at
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