When it was announced that Ana "The Hurricane" Julaton would fight Heather Hardy the combat sports world's antennae immediately shot up up. The fact that they would do this dance twice, with one match promised to be in boxing, is a series which benefits both the fans and athletes in this new mixed combat sports era.
"It wasn't hard at all. Bellator is kind of like a mom and pop company and I was able to talk one-on-one with (Bellator Matchmaker) Rich Chou and some of the other people within the organization so it was really easy to get the right people to connect to make this fight happen," said Julaton.
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?
"I definitely think it's going to change the dynamic for female fighters. I mean internationally female boxers they get paid a lot. I've heard Heather Hardy and some other female boxers talking about ever since they signed with an MMA company out here in the States they get paid more than their world title fights. At the end of the day I kind of feel bad for them because there is a lot of money to be made overseas especially when you have that title belt. To this day I would definitely say boxing paid me a lot more than my current MMA contract."
However, Julaton is basking in the glow of a history-making deal that allows her to capitalize off of both of her combat sports disciplines and challenge her doppelganger in Hardy.
"What's nice about this MMA contract with Bellator is they allow me to pursue both sports and also I can exercise the sponsorship part. The dynamics are definitely going to change but if athletes, whether you are male or female, in combat sports or any sport that you do, people need to be more keen on the business part of it, there's more than one way to the mountaintop. That's just the name of the game. There are a lot of opportunities that's out there that need to be exploited. Its going to be an exciting fight and if people pay attention they can really push their potential not only in becoming really good fighters but also in exercising their value and their branding as an athlete."
Both Julaton and Hardy lost their last fights, except Hardy lost in epic Ronda Rousey fashion in a bloody exchange that left the boxing champion seemingly exposed as a novice in MMA. While both are still new to the MMA octagon, their boxing careers are very similar. Hardy is 20-0 and holds the WBC international women’s featherweight title while Julaton is 14-4-1 and is a former WBO women’s super bantamweight champion.
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.
"MMA is a completely different game altogether," said Julaton. "From the boxing lines to the MMA line and obviously, she wasn't equipped with understanding the kicking lines and there so much difference in the punching lines and it will be interesting to see what kind of turnaround they are going to do. It's pretty clear what her MMA experience has showcased. She came in with the same game and then by the time her second fight happened someone just basically took it upon them and saw a disadvantage of what she's been doing. I think what I've been doing the past couple of years hs definitely put me on a different level, a different perspective and I'd say I feel like im definitely more at an advantage mainly because, in my opinion, I feel more comfortable in the cage because I have more experience. I'm just really excited with what she's going to showcase because its a lot of work to jump from one sport to another maybe because it was a better opportunity, she gets paid more, whatever it is but she needs to understand this is MMA and you cant really duck anyone in MMA."
For the last couple of camps, Julaton has been training with two-time UFC heavyweight champion, Frank Mir, who she shares her long-time coach Angelo Reyes with. The team has been dynamic and Julaton feels it has enriched her MMA journey.
"Frank (Mir) has always been there for my past few fights and stuff. He just keeps getting better and better at knowing what exactly what to tell another fighter in terms of having them understand my style and I think that's just kind of been my journey for the past few fights. Obviously, it helps out big time when you have someone Frank, two-time world MMA champion, just telling me the ins and outs of certain things and having him there to just verbally articulate things that I can get right away. His daughter, she's bigger than me, she's like 14 years old, 5'7 about 145 pounds, she's a big girl and super athletic. I mean its wrestling season right now ans shes cross training with playing tackle football. She's super athletic and she loves fighting so it's nice to be able to move around with her and get that aspect and having everything overseen by Angelo Reyes. This guy he understands martial arts and he understands my style and its really cool that me and Frank share the same martial arts coach, same boxing coach and we are able to have the same line of dialogue where things can be implemented quickly. I'd say it's a huge advantage."
Julaton is ready to showcase her abilities against a truly game opponent and open up a new world of potential in the post-Mayweather vs. McGregor hybridization of combat sports. After taking a loss during her last fight from not using her strengths as a former boxing champion, Julaton is ready for this next leg of her combat journey.
"I definitely should have used my hands a lot more. I've gotten into like this whole martial arts journey just being able to sit back and rely on my kicking and I probably did more kicking than I should have in my last fight. But at the same time too I felt like my opponent was always backing up and the game is completely different. I didn't get hurt or anything I mean the next week I was at Carnegie Hall getting an award and no one could even tell I was in a fight. Its just nice to get that activity. I feel like the ball is rolling in terms of just getting back in the gym and having a fresher perspective. Just getting back into that grind, I just needed that. I'm just really thankful that Bellator is giving me this opportunity and I can just really exploit my potential."
It all goes down at Bellator 194.