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It was announced this week in a press release that five-division world boxing champion Amanda Serrano will make her mixed martial arts debut under the Combate Americas banner on April 13 in Los Angeles. Serrano is the third high-profile female boxer to move to MMA, joining Heather Hardy and Ana Julaton. All three have kept their options open to gain some professional exposure in combat sports.
“I still don’t get the recognition I deserve, and I believe MMA is a little different than boxing,” Serrano said in a promotional video Combate Americas released on social media. “Just like in my boxing career, I’ll continue to work hard and be the best that I can be and just become half of what I was in boxing.”
Hardy and Julaton have shown that accomplished female boxers can get top billing in MMA, a fact which can only further their careers. It underlines a sentiment Hardy established when she broke into mixed martial arts: Women are treated better in MMA. Hardy and Julaton just fought one another on the Bellator 194 main card, and while some fans and observers were critical of their performance, their drive to compete should not be overlooked. Bellator MMA wanted to televise their fight because they bring new fans with them. Serrano figures to enter the sport with the same drive, and if you follow her progress on social media, you know she has worked on takedown defense and submissions in advance of her debut.
The timing of the announcement coincides with UFC 222, which will see Cristiane Justino defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title against Yana Kunitskaya in the main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. While Justino did not rise out of the world of boxing, she serves as a prime example of what female fighters can do when they round out their game.
Hardy, Julaton and Serrano have not written off boxing entirely, but they recognize the possibility that they could make bigger names for themselves in MMA. If fighters like Justino, Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey paved the way for women in mixed martial arts, Hardy, Serrano and Julaton could be widening the road for the cross-promoting of combat sports.
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu Karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since UFC 1. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website TheBlogBoardJungle.com.
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