Ana Julaton, the former super bantamweight boxing world champion, will become a two-sport athlete on May 2 when she makes her mixed martial arts debut on a One Fighting Championship card in Manila.
Trying MMA is no lark for Julaton, a San Francisco native who lives in Las Vegas. She's considered MMA for a long time and finally decided to give it a try. She is of Filipino descent and said she "is beyond thrilled" to be fighting in the Philippines in her One FC debut.
Julaton becomes the second significant female boxer to try MMA in recent years, following Holly Holm. She isn't going to give up her boxing career and plans to box on May 29. Her hope is the May 29 bout is for a world title.
Julaton, who has held both the WBO and the IBA women's super bantamweight title during her boxing career, has trained in the traditional martial arts since she was 10 years old. She has black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo Karate.
"I have the background in martial arts and I've always had an interest in the UFC," said Julaton, 33, who is 13-4-1 with two knockouts as a boxer. "But I started training in Las Vegas and that gave me the chance to go out and watch the fights more regularly. Doing that, I saw how there were so many different options. In boxing, you're limited to your left and right hands. In MMA, I understand kicks. I understand the ground game. It was so intriguing being able to fight with all these tools, not just my hands.
"I have been around all of the fighting arts for most of my life and this was something that just clicked for me."
The outgoing Julaton, who has worked as an analyst for The Boxing Channel, said she believes staying active will help her in both MMA and boxing.
Promoted as a boxer by Allan Tremblay of Orion Sports Management in Canada, she was fighting every two or three months on his shows. But when Tremblay had to step aside from promoting for a while to fight prostate cancer, Julaton went a year without fighting.
She's gone 1-1 since her return, losing to Celina Salazar and defeating Perla Hernandez. The Hernandez fight was on Nov. 1 in Mexico, so it will be seven months between fights for Julaton.
That's simply too long for her taste. She used to train with Freddie Roach, who loved the fact that she stayed active.
"Freddie would always say activity is the best thing for a boxer, and I really agree with that," she said. "When Allan had those shows going regularly, I was able to get into and stay in a groove and I was fighting my best. Having two fights in four weeks is going to be good for me."
She said the success of the women's division in the UFC and the way UFC president Dana White treated it also made her take notice. Women's boxing is very popular around the world, but not nearly so much in the U.S. The majority of boxing media in the U.S. ignores women's boxing.
It was big news, though, as soon as White added women to the UFC and the women's fights have been covered vigorously. Julaton said she is impressed by what UFC champion Ronda Rousey has done for women's MMA and said Rousey clearly understands how to promote.
"Everything Ronda has, she has earned and she has worked extremely hard for, and that's been inspirational for me to watch as a fan," Julaton said. "She put herself out there and she got involved at the grass roots level. Even before she was in the UFC, she was putting videos on YouTube and just getting people to pay attention to her.
"At the end of the day, that's what it takes for fighters to get noticed, male or female. Promotion is a part of the job. We have to make people want to see us and entertain them with good, competitive fights when they do."