Ana Julaton has upped the quality of her MMA training under Ricky Lundell. | Photo Courtesy: AnaJulaton.com
Ana Julaton is in a race with Holly Holm.
Like Holm, who has signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Julaton has won multiple world titles in boxing and wants to add mixed martial arts gold to her collection.
“Next year, my goal is to become the current world boxing champion while also becoming the current champion in MMA,” Julaton told Sherdog.com. “That is a feat no one has ever done simultaneously.”
Julaton takes what she hopes will be the next step towards her lofty goal at One FC 23 “Warrior’s Way” on Friday, when she meets Walaa Abas Mohamed Kamaly at the Mall of Asian Arena in Manila, Philippines. Egyptian Top Team’s Kamaly has fought previously at bantamweight and featherweight, but her clash with Julaton will be contested at 125 pounds.
“Size and strength can always be an advantage for any fighter, but it will be important for both of us to make weight,” Julaton said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s about [being] the smarter fighter, and I feel that I have that advantage over my opponents. My training is mentally and physically demanding on a day-to-day basis. My style has a lot of snap, crackle and pop, with a combination of grenade-esque bombs of strikes. I’m excited to showcase Philippine boxing with American wrestling.”
The 34-year-old Filipino-American won a unanimous decision in her professional boxing debut in 2007 and eventually pushed her record to 13-4-1. Julaton’s manager, Angelo Reyes, introduced her to famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who took her under his wing. She attributes her success to her early training, her coaching team and her supporters.
“I was lucky to have a solid team, and Coach Reyes was always there to not only train me but to also help me get the opportunities I did,” Julaton said. “My pro boxing career, from the beginning until now, has set me up with once-in-a-lifetime experiences where I got to train with and watch fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, Roger [Mayweather] and Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- some of the best in the sport. A big part of my success also comes from the Filipino community. Whenever I fought, there was support and a great interest with the Filipino fight fans, which helped me get the exposure, success, TV deals and ratings I have in boxing.”
When Julaton made her MMA intentions known, One Fighting Championship wasted no time in signing the WBO and IBA women’s super-bantamweight champion. The San Francisco native’s stellar credentials and her international fan base caught the eye of One FC founder and CEO Victor Cui, who swooped in with a contract while leaving room for her to continue her boxing career. Julaton’s MMA record currently sits at 1-1 following a split decision loss to Ann Osman in August. She views the fight as a pivotal moment in her career. Julaton has since joined forces with Ricky Lundell, a well-known figure in martial arts circles. Based in Las Vegas, he has worked with some of the sport’s premier fighters, including reigning UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
“Coach Reyes and myself had the opportunity to watch one of the [Lundell] classes at Bishop Gorman High School [in Las Vegas], and we were blown away,” Julaton said. “It wasn’t like anything we’ve seen at other MMA gyms. Shortly after, Coach Reyes and myself started coming to the classes, watching and learning about wrestling. Coach Lundell and Reyes started building a relationship where they constantly talk about the concepts of wrestling, boxing and MMA, [and] then our training commenced.
“Through his teachings in camp, I found a new level of understanding of MMA and have a clearer idea of my fighting style,” she added. “I’m looking at One FC now with an MMA perspective. My team and I are looking forward to having a rematch with [Osman]. If I could pull off a split decision loss against someone who had three years of MMA training while I was in the sport for only six months, I can only imagine how much more effective I can be with more time and training with one of the best MMA coaches in the game.”
Beyond boxing, Julaton has 24 years of martial arts experience under her belt. She started tae kwon do at age 10, studied for eight years and went on to win gold at the Junior Olympics. Julaton enrolled in Kenpo karate at 19 and met Reyes, the assistant chief instructor at the time. He had brought boxing to the school.
“It was a tough time learning, where I had to balance training and teaching traditional martial arts and learning and competing in the sweet science,” she said.
Julaton’s balancing act proved wildly successful, and she competed in more than 40 boxing bouts as an amateur, winning the San Francisco Golden Gloves before capturing a silver medal at the 2007 United States National Boxing Championships. She completed her amateur career as the No. 2-ranked boxer in the country.
“In the amateurs, I had to learn fast because I was usually matched with boxers who had four to five times my experience,” Julaton said. “A lot of women were waiting for the Olympics to invite female boxers, so there were women in my division who had been waiting since 2000, 2004 and hoping for 2008. From the start, competition was fierce, and I think that experience contributed to me not only winning world titles early in my professional career but also showing my potential to influential people in boxing.”
While Julaton has made her intentions for 2015 clear, she has other far-reaching goals that will have a greater impact on the martial arts world.
“I’m thankful to have an opportunity where I can pursue my ultimate dream of being a boxing and MMA world champion concurrently,” she said. “That will be historic and I would like to see the fight industry change [to] where more fighters will have more activity and continue to increase their fighting IQ to a much higher level. Freddie Roach has always taught me that activity is always good for fighters. I want to continue my contribution to the fight sports, physically, for as long as I can and possibly move into the behind-the-scenes [work] for fight events or take part in commentary and media.
“As a woman in a male-dominated sport,” Julaton added, “I’d like to be known and respected as the ultimate fighter, partaking in two of the most grueling fight sports known: boxing and MMA.”
This story was updated at 11:50 p.m. ET on Dec. 4 to reflect the fact that Julaton won her pro boxing debut in 2007.