Jillian and Jocelyn Lybarger are twins who are making a name for themselves in the world of combat sports, the women’s MMA.

The newly formed Invicta Fighting Championships (Invicta FC) is to female fighters what the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is for male fighters. Founded in 2012 by Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, Invicta FC provides female athletes a platform for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights and for developing future superstars of the sport. MMA is a full contact sport that includes everything from boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu to kick boxing.
Both Lybarger twins have signed a three-fight deal with Invicta FC, and have gone from successful amateur careers to professional fights in the last few months. Jillian and Jocelyn Lybarger have been referred to as an unstoppable powerhouse. You will hear their names not only because they are motivated, work hard, and their goal is to win in the cage, but because the twins are also involved in a different fight. They are ambassadors for “It Ain’t Chemo”, an organization that provides cancer patients with comfort, care, advice and emotional support. “It Ain’t Chemo” was founded by Kevin Hoyt, a cancer survivor and Las Vegas resident. Jillian explained why they got involved: “In 2009, my whole family was being taken over by cancer. My grandmother passed away from breast cancer, my grandfather also passed away from cancer, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and my mom’s best friend got liver cancer, so it was taking our family one at a time. Fighting opened the door to many opportunities and I wanted to show people that I’m not just a fighter trying to get rich and have the limelight. I wanted to do something to help other people.” Managing the Lybarger twins is Chris Irwin who we all know well from The Gun Store. STRIPLV sat with Jillian and Jocelyn and got some answers to our questions about why they love the sport.

STRIPLV: How did you get into the crazy world of MMA?
JILLIAN: It was about 4½ years ago in Phoenix, Arizona. I was driving down the street and I saw these guys doing this crazy workout. It wasn’t your typical workout. It was sledgehammers, big tires, big ropes, and it caught my eye. I pulled over and asked them what he was training for and he said a big fight. I knew about the UFC, but not about all these other smaller promoters and shows around the world. They said: “Come back tomorrow and workout with us.” So I said okay and went back the next day. Part of the warm-up was rope jumping for 5 minutes, like a boxer. I couldn’t even do it. I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I played basketball in college, graduated police academy, and I needed to be able to jump rope for 5 minutes. So that kept driving me to keep going back, day in and day out. Six months later the owner of the gym asked me if I wanted to take an amateur fight with a girl who was also doing her amateur debut fight in Tucson. I knocked the girl out in 32 seconds, and after that, I was hooked. It was the day before my birthday and my whole family was there except Jocelyn. My second fight was in Denver, Colorado, and after Jocelyn saw it, she said she had to do it, too.
JOCELYN: She lost that fight by a split decision, but I thought she won. It was funny, because after the fight, I was walking around and everyone was going: “Good fight, good fight.” I knew I had to do it, too. I was living in California and that Monday morning I started training and I’ve been doing it everyday since.STRIPLV: Were you always into sports, also?
JOCELYN: We were both raised to be very athletic, so we picked up the MMA very quickly. We still have a lot to learn and a long path to go down.
STRIPLV: So you are both professionals now?
JILLIAN: I just did my last amateur fight two weeks ago. I knocked the girl out in a minute forty-two of round one. I’ll be doing my pro debut in February. Jocelyn did her pro debut in July, and won by decision.
JOCELYN: It’s funny, she started first, but I went pro first.
STRIPLV: Tell me about growing up and your childhood?
JOCELYN: We grew up playing sports. The first organized sport our dad put us in was roller hockey. I remember him taking us to Wal-Mart and buying us all this shit. He didn’t buy us helmets like the boys had. He bought us bike helmets and then screwed this caging onto the helmet. We were in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, watching our dad screw the things together. (laughter) Then he said: “Now go out there, and there’s this puck and wherever it is, skate to it and then hit it.” (laughter) We were really close to our mom and dad, and we have an older sister. We went to church and were very active in our community.
JILLIAN: We played every sport – water polo, basketball, softball, swimming – and Jocelyn and I played basketball together on the team at San Diego College. College wasn’t really my thing. My dream was to be a cop, and you don’t need a degree to be a cop. We motivate each other, feed off each other to get things done. We’re best friends, best training partners and worst enemies at the same time. We’re in the same weight class.
STRIPLV: What happens if you have to fight each other?
JILLIAN: We get that all the time. Hopefully we’ll both just keep winning, and cross that bridge when it happens.
JOCELYN: Being a professional athlete, the answer would be yes.
STRIPLV: Is there any talk about changing weight class?
JOCELYN: I’ve fought in the 135-weight class and have fought in the 125 and 115.
JILLIAN: I feel so much stronger at 115. I’m taller and stronger than the other girls.
STRIPLV: What’s your walking around weight?
JILLIAN: 142, 143.
STRIPLV: Tell us the process of how you get down to your fighting weight.
JILLIAN: The last fight I was at 125 and did a six-week camp for that one. Your body is naturally going to lose weight because of how much we train, and our eating changes for six weeks. There’s no processed food, a proper amount of carbs, a lot of juicing, chicken and greens. You have to start drinking close to 2 gallons of water a day, and you’re constantly using the restroom and you’re getting all the bad toxins out of your body. On the day of weigh-in, I did two 5-minute sauna sessions and dropped 6 pounds of water weight.
JOCELYN: Ten days out before a weigh-in, I’ll cut out sodium. Everybody is different and you have to figure in that “time of the month” for us. You just have to figure out what works best for you. The last time I was down to 115, I didn’t feel well. I feel stronger at 125. I do CrossFit training, another level of training that helps you to use muscles that you haven’t used before. Jillian will start that, too. CrossFit is a training program that builds strength through extremely varied and challenging workouts. It is used for many police academies and military special operations units, as well as champion MMA fighters. CrossFit works to make you proficient in ten skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

JILLIAN: I just moved here 4 months ago and train at Robert Drysdale’s Gym and I’m looking for a new strengthening coach. James McSweeney is my stand-up coach.
STRIPLV: How long is your contract with Invicta?
JILLIAN: Invicta is basically the stage for females. Janet Martin came up with Invicta, which is IFC, and that’s big stage, big paychecks, big audience, all female card. The men have UFC, which means all male, big stage, PPV and big paychecks. We were fortunate enough to sign a 3-fight, 18-month deal with them. They’re looking into putting us both on the April card, which is huge. It’s the first time in history that twins have been on the same card as professionals. So, we’re riding the twin thing right now. We’ve both quit our corporate jobs. When I quit the sheriff’s office, I worked for AT&T, and Jocelyn was at Verizon. I was making twice the money at AT&T than as a cop. Right now we’re chasing our dream. I’m giving myself four years to just go all out and see what happens. We have tons of offers right now, so we’ll see.


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