This week, former boxing champion and global mixed martial artist, Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton retired from combat sports. The Filipina star made history as one of the only boxing champions to successfully transition to MMA, performing on the biggest stages of the sport worldwide.
Hailing from the Bay Area, Julaton is a Filipino-American former 3-time world boxing champion and, most recently, a Bellator mixed martial artist. Nicknamed The Hurricane, she is one of the quickest boxers ever to win a world title (having fought just five previous professional bouts before winning the IBA Super Bantamweight title) and becoming the first woman to win the WBO world title.
The Champion builds her presence globally; one market, one match, at a time. The former WBO and IBA Boxing World Champion enters her second match in ONE FC to capture glory once again, this time in MMA. How many athletes can make a successful transition from one sport to another?
In 2014, Julaton was recognized by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and earned the Special Achievement Award: For being the only elite athlete competing at highest levels of both boxing and MMA. Julaton has been coached by her longterm trainer Angelo Reyes but other notables have been instrumental in her career like multiple time Boxing Writer’s Association of America “Coach of the Year” Freddie Roach and boxing’s only eight-division world champion, Manny Pacquiao. In MMA, she was able to learn from former two-time UFC heavyweight Frank Mir who rounded out her Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling.
Yet at the start, with her strong martial arts background, she had no desire for the sport of boxing. “I wasn’t a fan of boxing. I thought it was brutal. I thought it was an ego clash between two athletes. I didn’t understand the science behind it.”
Ironically, it wasn’t until she thought about her own safety that boxing became a sport of interest; and once she entered the ring under the tutelage of Head Coach Angelo Reyes, her natural skill, work ethic and intelligence took over. After only two weeks of training, she won a silver medal at the San Francisco Golden Gloves Tournament, and her path to greatness was cemented.
Like any other athlete in any sport, Ana has had her wins and losses, but the one consistent element was her drive, passion, and dedication, with the knowledge that nothing would stop her on her quest for glory.
“I don’t think Ana even realized the gravity of what she did, by doing every single thing she’s done to be the first this, the first that,” said head coach Angelo Reyes.
Ana Julaton, the biggest filipina boxing draw you never heard of… But after her victorious One FC debut in Manila, you will be dying to know more. “Actually I got into boxing because of martial arts,” said Julaton. “I’ve been doing martial arts since I was a kid.
It is undeniable that all combat sports are booming again. After years of mismatches and stalled marquee pairings, the sport has finally shown fans the respect of delivering the fights they want to see. However, amid this re-branding of your grandfathers sport toward a new millennial audience, Julaton wouldn’t let them forgot the women athletes. After becoming an international star with ONE FC in Asia, Julaton entered the number two MMA promotion in the world, Bellator MMA. Although she went 2-4 across her MMA career, Julaton was able to fight in the Philippines three times, Dubai and finally met her rival Heather Hardy in the process.
Her last fight was a historic one as it signaled the first deal where two boxing champions met in the cage during an MMA bout with a future boxing match negotiated and signed. It was a move that is in line with all the cross-promotional and combat sporting crossovers that have yielded astronomical financial numbers like Mayweather vs. McGregor.
I definitely think [these fights] are going to change the dynamics for female fighters,” she continued. “Internationally, female boxers get paid a lot. Boxing definitely paid me a lot more than my current MMA contract. But Bellator lets me fight in both sports and I keep my sponsorship ability. Hopefully, people can really exercise their branding and their value from this opportunity.
As a boxer, Julaton went 14-4-1 and became the symbol of excellence for women and the people of the Philippines worldwide. The longtime Shadow League contributor to the TSL Power Hour and more, Ana Julaton is truly a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur that has forever changed the combat sports spectrum of possibilities for athletes regardless of gender. The Shadow League thanks you for your sacrifice champ!