A top coach once told me he believed boxing was the worst possible base for MMA and that in his experience fighters frequently struggled to make the transition from the squared circle to the Octagon.
James Toney and Ricardo Mayorga did not exactly cover themselves in glory during brief and largely unsuccessful stints as MMA fighters but two time world champion Ana Julaton is hoping she can be the boxer to buck the trend.
The Filipino-American made a big impression when she fought in Manila earlier this year and Julaton is looking to build on a successful MMA debut when she fights for the second time in Dubai later this month.
“I was surprised by how much fun I had. Winning my MMA debut in the Philippines was a dream come true, even when I was in the guillotine choke hold the arena was so electrifying and I could hear the support from everyone so there was no way I was going to let anyone down,” she told Fightland.
Julaton scored a third round stoppage over Aya Saeid Saber and will be looking for a second successive MMA win when she takes on Malaysian Ann Osman at ONE FC: Reign of Champions which is set for the World Trade Centre in Dubai on August 29th.
She currently holds a professional boxing record of 13-4-1 and no fewer than eight of her fights have been for world titles with Julaton owning, at one time or another, super bantamweight belts with both the IBA and WBO.
The big difference between Julaton’s two careers is that in boxing she had the opportunity to cut her teeth as an amateur before being thrust into professional competition whereas as a mixed martial artist she made her debut fighting in front of 17,000 fans wearing 4oz gloves.
With relatively little experience Julaton has been thrust straight into the spotlight but she says her previous combat experience has helped her to adapt.
“I believe my world class level experience in boxing has taught me a lot about fighting and although I only have one MMA fight under my belt, spending over a decade in boxing and fighting at a world class level inspires me to try new things in MMA and make it my own. My approach in MMA will be different than what some may expect.”
Standing opposite her in Dubai will be Osman and although her pro record currently stands at 0-1 she is a tough and tenacious competitor who was extremely unfortunate to go down to a split decision defeat when she made her debut last year.
The Malaysian is more of a ground fighter which could potentially pose a mixed martial artist with Julaton’s skillset some issues and the Filipino-American says she is expecting a tough test of her MMA credentials.
“Ann Osman is game and will show up at her best. I originally had a different opponent and when that fell through, she jumped at the opportunity to fight me. I look forward to this match and it will be an explosive bout for fight fans. Overall, I can't wait to show my skills in the cage again.”
Given Julaton’s boxing background it is abundantly clear to opponents what her strengths and weaknesses are likely to be and it’s not difficult to put together a blueprint to beat a fighter who despite being a proven puncher is a relative newcomer to the sport of MMA.
It would be a surprise if any fighter went into a bout with Julaton relying on a strategy which didn’t rely heavily on takedowns and she says she welcomes the challenge of proving she is much more than just a boxer with a puncher’s chance.
“The ground game is exciting because it opens a new level of inspiration for me to train and learn. I expect all of my opponents to test my ground technique and I look forward to surprising them with what I'm working on.”
While Julaton already has a fan base in the Philippines and is being fast tracked towards a title shot in ONE FC’s 125 lbs division being such a big name does come at a cost and opponents will be desperate to claim a win over a former boxing world champion.
The 34 year old knows she effectively has a target on her back but Julaton believes boxing has given here the experience to cope with whatever challenges her MMA career might bring.
“I feel like anyone who signs a contract to fight me thrives on the opportunity because I bring my name to the stage. More times than not my opponents train their hardest because they have never fought a boxing world champion so I'm able to bring something different in the [Octagon].”
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