Ana Julaton makes her third MMA fight at ONE FC 23 in Manila, Philippines on December 5, 2014. The consummate sportswoman has lofty goals in MMA and a mindset to achieve them.
Julaton made her MMA debut with ONE FC in May of 2014 at ONE FC 15. It was an impressive showcase of her ability to transition into the sport. She showed many facets and in the end won with ground and pound. Julaton’s second outing with Ann Osman ended with a split decision not in her favor. The women’s WBO Super Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight World Champion has come back quickly to redeem the loss.
In our latest interview with the stand out athlete, Julaton discusses what the loss taught her about MMA rules, her wrestling experiences, and some fantastic advice for all MMA professionals, male and female alike.
Asia MMA: As a consummate sportswoman, I would imagine you take a loss as a learning experience. Emotionally, how did you handle your last bout? Mentally, what did you learn from it?
Julaton: Emotionally, I was obviously upset. Coming from a world class boxing background, I understand fighting and I believe in my skills, mental toughness, and heart. I’ve learned in the art of pugilism can be effective in MMA. However, in my previous camps, I didn’t fully understand the sport of MMA or realize the technicalities of it in terms of how a fight is scored. I’ve always believed (in boxing) that when you damage your opponent more than you were damaged then you WIN period.
So when Osman failed to submit me on two occasions and I retaliated with axing my heel stomps onto her face, I believed I scored the more damaging blows and when I wobbled her with my punches and nearly knocked her out, I also thought that showed more damage than her strikes. Yet, that performance scored me a SPLIT decision (one judge clearly agreed with my viewpoint). As a pure fighter, I saw myself “winning the war” which doesnt necessarily translate to me “winning the game”. Since everything happened the way it did, my career path led me and my team to Coach Ricky Lundell who in my opinion is one of the very BEST MMA coaches in the world today.
Asia MMA: Taking up wrestling with Ricky Lundell shows your huge commitment to the sport. What was the most difficult thing to get used to?
Julaton: First off, Coach Ricky Lundell is a 2nd degree black belt in Jiujitsu under Pedro Sauer, who earned his black belt from Helio Gracie. In order for Coach Lundell to earn his black belt in Jiujitsu, he had to win the Jiujitsu World Championships, and is the youngest American to ever achieve the black belt and world title in Jiujitsu. Then, he was recruited by Cael Sanderson, one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, boasting a record of 159-0, being a 4x National American Champion, and winning the Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Gold Medal.
With that said, one of the most difficult things with working with Coach Lundell is getting the opportunity to work with him. Many have tried and he only has time for a select few. That does not even count how mentally and physically demanding his fighting system is.
Asia MMA: How long and how often do you train there?
Julaton: As much as I can. Just to give you an idea, Coach Lundell is the HEAD COACH of the Bishop Gorman wrestling team, class runs 4 times a week, which are at least 3 hours, if not more. it’s been very inspiring to see top level athletes like Frank Mir in the same wrestling room with me alongside his hardworking high school athletes… And I still see Coach Lundell and Coach Angelo 5-6 times throughout the week. Training as a 2-fight sport athlete for both boxing and MMA is a lot of work.
Asia MMA: Did you find a particular technique that was fun or exciting?
Julaton: The techniques are absolutely fun. But the magic for me happens when Coach Lundell and Coach Reyes collaborate, see me, and BOOM! The strategies behind this fighting system just blows my mind!! You’d have to talk to my coaches about it and then you’ll understand. [smiles]
Asia MMA: What was your impression of the wrestling gym atmosphere compared to the boxing gym?
Julaton: It’s like walking in two different worlds. Aesthetically, the boxing ring canvas is different from a traditional wrestling mat; boxing shoes are different from wrestling shoes; wrestlers typically don’t wear much protective equipment when sparring versus in boxing, you need a mouth piece, a head gear, hand wraps, sparring gloves, et cetera.
In terms of the environment, I’m used to sharing a gym with people from all walks of life. There are boxing gyms where World Champions train in the same roof as weekend warriors, which brings a unique competitive chemistry. Sometimes it’s hostile, other times it’s low key, depending on who’s there at the time. In the wrestling gym at Bishop Gorman High School, Coach Lundell and his assistant coaches run an organized regime for their young High School athletes. It’s like a university to groom world champions. Despite the differences between the two sports, I enjoy training in both of them!
Asia MMA: Lundell is very familiar with working with MMA fighters and coaches. What did your coach, Angelo Reyes, get from this experience in order to help you progress?
Julaton: It’s been amazing to watch Coach Lundell and Angelo communicate. They watched a lot of fights in MMA, boxing, and wrestling, and developed an understanding between each other that it almost seem like they have their own language at times. And they have a lot of fun in the meantime and laugh a lot! As a fighter, this has been extremely effective in my training and with my overall confidence in the camp. It’s awesome and I’m so thankful to have this union between Coach Lundell and Coach Reyes.
Asia MMA: With your third MMA fight coming up, it seems like you really are committing to a career in MMA. What about MMA has captured your interest so much?
Julaton: I appreciate the activity, an active schedule is always good for fighters that are building. Also, I’ve always been a fan of the martial arts so to pursue a career in professional MMA has been a unique challenge for me.
Asia MMA: Filipinos might be the most contradicting people on earth: incredibly joyful and friendly, yet fervent about combat. For instance, stick and knife fighting is still being taught by families of guys who have notched up legit wartime kills. When Manny fights, the country grinds to a halt. And Filipino ONE FC fans are by far the most outspoken about their fighters. And here you are, a smiling ambassador for women’s boxing now crossing over into the most comprehensive combat sport. Can you provide any insight to the Filipina psyche?
Julaton: As a woman in a male-dominated sport, you have to act like you belong. Believe in yourself, be confident, and be brave when trying something new or asking for an opportunity. Being shy and quiet will make it harder for any fighter – male or female – to achieve success.
Asia MMA: I’ve heard Manny Pacquiao eats this Filipino salmon and lime soup before and after every fight. Do you have a similar ritual?
Julaton: Honestly, I don’t have any rituals before the fights. During fight week, it’s busy, dealing with promotions and media, keeping up with the training, and having to make weight. I get through the week, fight, then fly back home and rest and reassess the fight, camp, et cetera. However, after the fight, my go to meal is having a nice, juicy cheeseburger with fries and a milkshake with my team. I’ve been doing that since I won my first world boxing title in 2009.
Asia MMA: Is Filipino food a big part of your diet, and if so, what are your favorites? If not, what’s your regular diet like?
Julaton: Yes, it is! I learned a big lesson a few years ago about maintaining my weight. I used to follow a strict diet that had low sodium, low fat, and low sugar. It worked, I always made weight but after winning one of my world titles, I immediately flew to the Philippines and started eating regular without the sodium, fat, and sugar restrictions. In a week, I gained 20 pounds!!! It was all worth it because food in the Philippines is delicious, but it took me almost 6 months to burn the weight off.
I’ve met and talked to many world class chefs and they advised me to have a normal diet, which helped me tremendously since I can’t really control what foods I eat when I travel. Now, I manage my weight with a balanced diet and regular workouts.
In my MMA debut last May & currently this past week, I have been fortunate to have Solaire Resort & Casino to be a huge part my winning experience here in Manila. Their entire staff has treated me like family. I love eating at FRESH International Buffet at the Solaire Casino. They keep me fit and READY to WIN!
Asia MMA: You’re very outgoing and PR savvy, which is something a lot of MMA fighters could learn from. Ironically, your counterpart Filipinos are some of the most difficult fighters to interview, because they are humble to the point of shyness. Can you provide some advice on how they can “come out of their shell”, and what it takes to promote yourself in this industry?
Julaton: The minute you become a professional fighter, you become a business person. In a way, you become an entertainer where you have to create your public image, get exposure, and have the opportunity to gain fans. Your popularity and how good you are as a fighter will dictate your success. Training and promotions are important in this industry, so it would be wise to have a plan.
For starters, study other fighters, the ones you like and the ones you don’t like just so you can get an overall picture of what professionals do in the industry. Be willing to say “hi” to people and introduce yourself at fight events and network with people in the industry. As a woman in a male-dominated sport, I had to get out of my comfort zone and talk to a lot of people, ask a lot of questions, and ask for opportunities.
There were plenty of times where I would receive “no” for an answer but that didn’t stop me. Coach Reyes would always say that, “if the answer is no now, it may be yes later.” And that happened a number of times, but who would of thought that a fighter who does both professional boxing and professional MMA concurrently is a woman?? I am still the only fighter in the world of combat sports that has this unique ability to go back and forth to do both boxing and MMA. You have to have “thick skin” in this business. Be brave, be humble and believe in yourself.
Asia MMA: 2014 has seen the largest leap for women’s MMA ever. Almost every major promotion holds women’s matches, and athletes like yourself and Holly Holm have generated interest from diehard boxing fans. It was a coup for ONE FC to land you. As a female MMA fighter, how do you wish to be seen? What do you want to contribute to the sport, on both a personal and public level?
Julaton: It’s an interesting time for me because as of right now, I’m a professional boxer who does professional MMA concurrently. After this fight, I’m fighting for Top Rank Promotions and Mr. Bob Arum in March in Macau, China at the Venetian Hotel. When this is all done, I would like to be the first fighter to hold an MMA world title and a boxing world title at the same time, which hasn’t been done yet. I believe with Mr. Bob Arum and Mr. Victor Cui giving me the opportunity I can accomplish this in 2015.
After I accomplish that, I would love to see the fight industry change where fighters can have such contracts, have more activity, opportunities, and the chance to increase their fight IQ. As a woman in a male-dominated sport, I’d like to be known and respected as an all around fighter among fans and peers. It’s a fun goal to reach for.
Asia MMA: Do you have sponsors, charities, anyone you’d like to thank or mention?
Thank you to my entire Team, Lundell MMA in Las Vegas: Boxing/Striking Coach Angelo Reyes, Head MMA Coach Ricky Lundell and Assistant Coach Todd Prace. My Team of Doctors Phil Reyes of Clinton Chiropractic in Alameda, California, Dr. Warren Strudwick (Doctor for the OAKLAND RAIDERS Franchise) & Dr. Romuldo Aragon and Physical Therapist Matt Killian in Las Vegas. Head Boxing Coach Chris Ben at UNLV, Solaire Resort & Casino VP Jasper Evangelista and Romina Gervacio in Manila, the Bishop Gorman High School Wrestling Team, MPowerhouze Training Gym in Los Angeles Owner George Tanon Edillor & Eliza Anderson, Attorney Jemela Nettles, my family, friends and supporters from everywhere, and especially the very BEST Brother in the world who has always believed in me and supports me WIN or LOSE, no matter what. Finally I’d like to thank all the Filipinos all over the world for their continued support, Maraming Maraming Salamat Po!! Thank you for believing in me and never giving up on me.