With the success of women’s MMA on the national scale, the world is now overflowing with female fighters. These women have been toiling in the lesser-marketed shows or added as fillers on major bouts for a long time, but now the WORLD is seeking out these female athletes with fervor.
Former two time boxing champion, Ana Julaton, is no stranger to combat sports; in fact, she has been a stalwart in the game professionally since 2007. Her passion for fighting is deep and extends beyond boxing; however, the itch to step in the ring came from an unlikely person, her father. Usually, patriarch want to shield their daughters from anything associated with violence, but Julaton’s father taught her to embrace it.
“Actually I got into boxing because of martial arts,” said Julaton. “I’ve been doing martial arts since I was a kid. It’s been a lifelong passion. It’s something that my Dad introduced me to when I was four years old. He would show me the basic core stances and we would watch Bruce Lee movies and stuff like that and I ended up getting my black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I got a black belt in Kenpo karate and through Kenpo I ended up pursuing boxing. So long story short, I just kind of feel like with everything that’s happened so far I feel like its come to a full circle being able to fight for One FC coming up and it’s been an amazing ride.”
After a solid amateur career that began in 2004, the Bay area native eventually won silver in the San Francisco Golden Gloves and delivered an impressive performance in 2005. By 2007 she was ranked second among all female amateur boxers in the United States. Julaton then decided to go pro, compiling an impressive 13-4-1 record with 2 wins by KO. In addition, she won the Women’s WBO Super Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight titles. This marked the first time a woman Filipina boxer attained these championships.
“It’s been a fight. I mean just being a female fighter in this male dominated sport it’s been an uphill battle in terms of the fight game and just some of the business aspects of it” said Julaton. “I remember growing up in the amateurs and we didn’t have an Olympic opportunity and that’s pretty frustrating. There are a lot of really talented girls who had a lot of experience; I would have like less than 10 amateur bouts and I would face girls who had 60 plus, almost 100 amateur bouts. That type of intensity in terms of the competition followed me in my professional career. My first fight I had to fight a girl who had world championship experience; she had 11 pro fights, stuff like that, so I’ve invested 10 years of my life into boxing and its just always been tough from the get go. To make a long story short I just tried to make the most out of it and I ended up capturing a couple of titles, being able to meet awesome phenomenal athletes like Manny Pacquaio. Freddy Roach trained me for a big part of my professional boxing career and I got to venture on and meet Floyd Mayweather, watch him train. I got to work with Roger Mayweather on my last boxing camp and it’s been heck of a ride.”
Julaton’s thirst for combat led her to explore all of its modalities and obviously with mixed martial arts receiving global fan acceptance, Julaton’s entrance is of no surprise.
“I’ve always had the passion for martial arts and I’ve gotten to speak to the President of ONE FC, Victor Cui, and from what I see and from the past ONE FC shows, a lot of competitive high level fights and we kind of went back and forth the last couple of years about me doing MMA. In fact, I was actually thinking about jumping into MMA back in 2009 and that when I was cross training with boxing, martial arts and jiu jitsu and I ended up getting this call or this opportunity to fight for a world title fight and that’s how it all changed. As soon as I won that I went on the whole track of just focusing on boxing full time.”
With the success of Gina Carano, and now Ronda Rousey, it is curious to see Julaton make the leap into the Asian market and not in the States Although ONE FC is the largest MMA organization in Asia, promotions like Invicta FC, based in Kansas City, which feature all female MMA cards, would clearly have snatched her up. Although the UFC doesn’t currently house a 125lb division, I’m certain Julaton could have forced a division to be created with her boxing stature in the same way a lane was made for Ronda Rousey after UFC President Dana White expressed his disinterest in women’s MMA being apart of the UFC for years. However, for Julaton it was about the right fit.
“With One FC, I feel like it’s the perfect fit. Throughout my whole boxing career the Philippines has been my biggest supportive group back in the amateurs all the way up until now and I feel like One FC is able to give me that stage, that type of exposure over not only in the Philippines but all over Asia, and I feel like that fits me really well. Another thing they gave was the 125lb division, which the UFC does not have, and I feel like with timing and everything that’s happening so far I feel like it’s a better fit for me. One thing that I really do appreciate with One FC is that they actually knew that I had a martial arts background on top of my boxing career and for me I will admit I was taken aback and just to have a company just actually do some research on me and just know what I’m about and kind of understand my story. As a fighter one of the biggest things that gets me to want to do these fights is just to get the respect value and I feel like I’m able to get that from One FC.”
Debuting at ONE FC today, Julaton faced Aye Saied “Shekels” Saber, an Egyptian mixed martial artist with a lopsided 2-4 record.
“With Aye Saied she has a strong stand up background. She’s, I believe the Middle East Champion for kick boxing, she has 5 MMA fights. This is my MMA debut so she’s been in the cage and has much more experience in that field than I do and she’s gunning for me. With some of the interviews that she released over the past couple of weeks; she wants to go to the Philippines and beat me. For me it’s just another day at the job. Everyone’s always trying to gun for me because of the stage that I’m able to bring and the opportunity that I can possibly give to my opponents, everything that I’ve built up in the fight sports game. You know I put it all on the line everyone wants to take what I have so whether it’s a title fight or not people are always going to come after me. I feel like this is exactly what this girl wants to do and it’s not going to be a walk in the park. It never is but you know I’m looking forward to going over there and doing my job and stopping her.”
And stopping her is exactly what she did. Despite Saber having more cage experience, Julaton was impressive in her debut within her home country, scoring a victory behind a fury of devastating punches that ended the bout in the third round.
Julaton has won the respect of the Bay Area, and now she aims to garner respect across the world, starting with her win in Manila.