But long before the many-time champion Holm came along as MMA’s newest sensation, Filipina-American boxing champion Ana Julaton already had high hopes of making a name for herself in MMA.
After signing up with ONE Championship, Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, Julaton won two of her first three fights. Her loss came via a split decision to Malaysia Ann Osman.
Julaton came back with aplomb after that loss, stopping Aya-Saed Saber by ground and pound in May of last year at the ONE Championship: Rise of Heroes at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The former IBA and WBO bantamweight queen will come back to the same venue to face her biggest test thus far in powerful striker Irina Mazepa in the ONE Championship: Spirit of Champions on Dec. 11 at the Mall of Asia.
Mazepa’s solid debut win over Osman made her one of the most feared fighters in the division.
Julaton was supposed to meet Mazepa as early as last year in Dubai, but the latter begged off due to injury in training. Osman came in as a replacement and won via split decision.
But before a well-deserved rematch could take place, Mazepa immediately imposed herself and scored a TKO win over Osman.
The Julaton-Mazepa bout seems to be more interesting now—a thrilling showdown between two strikers. Julaton said she’s ready and pumped up and very glad it’s happening before her Filipino fans.
“Irina Mazepa is a powerful striker for sure. To see what she did to Osman in Malaysia in front of a sold-out hometown crowd was spectacular and proved Mazepa can fight and has no pressure as the visitor. But even when she won the fight, my heart didn’t skip a beat. I mean I was looking for it anyhow, she really has a good game,” said Julaton. Mazepa maybe a top-class stand-up fighter, but Julaton believes there are other areas where she can work on.
“I know that she’s strong, she’s experienced in the stand-up, but I also know too that she’s limited in certain areas and I see that as an advantage on my side,” said Julaton.
“I’ve stayed busy at at Bishop Gorman, training four times a week to integrate grappling techniques to my overall game. I worked hard with my coach, Ricky Lundell, who has helped me improve my ground game. I give credit a lot to my team, and my coach is super organized, and he knows which buttons to push to make me want to work.”
Lundell said Julaton has improved a lot on many aspects and that Mazepa is in for a big surprise.
“I don’t think her opponent know what’s coming for because what they saw a year ago is not what they’re gonna see now. I mean, the quickness to the shots, the ability to take somebody down, the control aspect as well as being able to land submissions and ground-and-pound,” said Lundell.
Julaton has become a complete fighter, according to Lundel. (R. Caluag, MS)