Fatima Kline is only 21 as she enters her second professional fight, but moving quickly up the ladder is nothing new to her or her crew.

A main training partner of rising 22-year-old UFC star Erin Blanchfield, the quick journey toward the top is a bit normal for Kline (1-0), who fights Wednesday at Invicta FC 46  against Nadia Vera (3-0-1). The card takes place at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., and can be watched live and free on MMA Junkie.

Kline only took one amateur fight, just like Blanchfield. They turned professional when their skill levels warranted it rather than when they hit an experience quota. For whatever reason, both Blanchfield and Kline were ready much earlier than most.

“We have a really tough crew down in New York and in New Jersey,” Kline told MMA Junkie. “Definitely Erin Blanchfield is my top training partner. You’ve seen how far she’s gone with only one amateur MMA fight, as well. She’s a huge model for me, and I’m definitely following after her, the great footsteps she’s left for me.”

She’s young, but Kline has been a jiu-jitsu practitioner for half her life. That’s over a decade. She began training at age 10 on Long Island for self-defense, and the rest was history. Although grappling is her forte, Kline took three boxing matches before her MMA career, too. The well rounded skills are built in.

“I don’t think people have really gotten to see (my striking) that much,” Kline said. “It’s hard not to take it to the ground sometimes and just use what I’m really good. But I also want to challenge myself. I want my striking tested against the best. I want my grappling tested against the best. There’s only one way to learn and one way to grow. That’s by doing it.”

Image via Dave Mandel

When the amateur scene shut down in 2020 and Invicta knocked, Kline thought it was a no-brainer to sign on the dotted line. Exactly three minutes into her pro debut last May 21, Kline submitted Ariana Melendez.

This time around, Kline wants to test herself more on the feet. However, she also recognizes the reality is that she’ll likely cave to her grappling craving at some point during the fight.

However it plays out, Kline expects to defeat Vera and thus improve her resume as one of the young women’s prospects fight fans should keep an eye on. Big opportunities are to come, but Kline still thinks there’s a lot to be done to earn them.

“I expect a certain standard for myself that I’m definitely hoping to reach by the end of this year – and for the next five or six years,” Kline said. “I want to go undefeated through my Invicta career and definitely, hopefully have a shot at the 115-pound title for Invicta. Then I just want to be the best MMA fighter to come. I’m just using the time right now to really grow and to improve and to one day get on that UFC stage and be one of the best.”

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