Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/13/12

It’s hard to picture a cheerleader throwing punches and kicks inside the octagon and it’s even harder to picture MMA fighters in cheerleader costumes on the sidelines of NFL games. Well, not anymore. Former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader Rachel Wray (no, not Rachel Ray of Food Network fame), has ditched the pom poms for sparring partners as she made the transition from NFL cheerleader to MMA fighter, according to KCMMA.com. “Last year, I was a Chiefs cheerleader,” she said. “I have been a cheerleader or dancer my whole life and I moved here from Arkansas to Cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs. I started working out at Title Boxing Club with some of the girls for an alternative workout. I really enjoyed it and started taking private lessons after a little while. One day, I came in and they wanted me to spar. I was nervous about someone actually punching me in the face, but I did it.” Things didn’t get off to a smooth start inside the ring, but she didn’t quit — she fought even harder. “I was absolutely horrible,” she added. “This drove me to want it even more. I knew I had to make a choice between fighting and cheerleading. I chose fighting.” Check out the videos below of one of her recent fights, where she absolutely destroys her opponent in the second round. Thumbnail via YouTube/NeonJefe

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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