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Student Works Toward MMA Dream

As Angelica Martinez trains and pushes herself as far as her body will let her, she remembers her purpose: to win her next fight.

Martinez, a junior, is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter (MMA).

She has been around the mixed martial arts circuit for most of her life.

“I started taekwondo when I was 14,” Martinez said. “I was upset at first because I wanted to jump straight in MMA, but I’m so glad I found my dojang because without it, I wouldn’t have my MMA fight.”

Along with starting martial arts at a young age, she grew up around her father as he watched the fights on TV. She has enjoyed the sport from the start.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a boxer because my dad would always watch boxing. Then UFC started becoming popular and MMA became my dream,” Martinez said.

Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA as it is typically called, is a combat sport that includes elements of boxing, mixed martial arts, and also certain wrestling and grappling techniques. MMA started to grow in America in 1993 when the Gracie Family founded UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Since its beginning, MMA continues to be seen as the fastest growing sport in America and also in the international circuit.
According to a statistic found on the official UFC website, 386 fights occurred over the course of 2013 and accumulated close to 53 million dollars during the year.
Martinez’s motivation for joining such a physically demanding sport is the desire to satisfy her parents, but also to make a name for herself as well as constantly improving in a sport that she loves.

Martinez, left, spars with her opponent during her first Mixed Martial Arts fight. Martinez plans to go on to be a professional MMA fighter. Photo by Mallory Cox.
Martinez, left, spars with her opponent during her first Mixed Martial Arts fight. Martinez plans to go on to be a professional MMA fighter. Photo by Mallory Cox.

“Part of what motivates me to do better is to make my parents proud,” Martinez said. “Also it’s the same as any sport; once you get good you never want to stop improving.”

Martinez, who had her first fight on Sat., April 5, enjoyed the experience but disagrees with the outcome.

“The fight was ended by referee stoppage due to strikes with five seconds left in the first round,” Martinez said. “I believe I could have made it through the round and gone to the second and won, but I can’t really change that.”

Though trained in numerous different aspects of the sport, Martinez states that she is more of a stand up fighter and that affected the outcome of the match.

“A majority of the fight was spent on the ground which is where she was better,” Martinez said. “There was a lot of transitioning throughout the fight which made it so exciting.”

Even though the fight did not end exactly how she wanted it to, Martinez still finds the experience to be glorious and it will always be a fond memory.

“I got a lot of positive feedback; people congratulating me, taking pictures with me,” Martinez said. “Most claimed [that] we were the fight of the night.”

Her first fight, though ending in a loss, proved that she has what it takes to compete, and provided immense motivation for her career in the future.

“I am lucky to have amazing instructors and supportive friends and family,” Martinez said. “I learned a lot, and I’m ready for another fight.”

Though MMA started out being a sport dominated by males, the ratio of female fighters to male fighters is beginning to even out. Martinez believes also that anyone can get involved and should not let anything stop them from joining a sport like MMA.

“Go for it. This is a sport that I believe anybody can do if they really want to,” Martinez said.

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