Amarillo native Nadia Moreno aims to collect first MMA win at Peak Fighting Championship

Nadia Moreno (left) kicks an opponent during a match.

Although Nadia Moreno has always been an Amarillo woman, in some ways she's been all over the place the past few years. The winding journey she's been on has led her back home, where she'll look to secure the first win of her Mixed Martial Arts career.

Moreno, who was born and raised in Amarillo and graduated from Palo Duro in 2017, will take part in the Peak Fighting Championship series Saturday night at the Civic Center. PFC 29 will mark the second MMA fight of Moreno's career.

PFC 29 is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Civic Center with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. The event will also be streamed at PFC On Demand or through Amazon, Roku, Apple, or Google Play.

“I’m so excited," Moreno said. "It’s a big blessing to be able to fight in front of the people I love and people that love me. Not everybody gets to travel to all these fights to get to go watch. I know a lot of people support me and it’s going to be exciting for everybody. I’m ready to put on a show for my family and my home town.”

Though Moreno grew up watching women in combat sports and knew from a young age this was something she wanted to be a part of, the path to get here wasn't exactly conventional. Though she was a standout wrestler for the Lady Dons, she opted to go to Amarillo College following the birth of her daughter. The Badgers do not have a wrestling program and her dedication to her studies, work and child put a hold on combat sports.

Nadia Moreno (left) has been training in MMA for two years.

The dream never wavered, however, and two years ago her fiancé, pro fighter Israel Rodriguez, gave her the push she was looking for to make the dream a reality.

"...He was the one who took me to class and got me lessons," Moreno said. "I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know anything about Jiu Jitsu, but my wrestling really helped me tremendously. I have him to thank for opening that door and helping get me into everything. I’ve had a lot of support from him and everyone around me. My whole family believes in me and that keeps me going and I believe in myself as well.”

With Rodriguez's assistance, Moreno joined Legends Boxing Gym and got set up with The Firm Sports Management. From there, she began preparing for a fighting career. Already an adept wrestler, she expanded her skillset to include Jiu Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing and more.

After a year of training, she took part in her first MMA bout last year. She lost her debut by submission, but she didn't allow that to deter her vision.

Nadia Moreno and her friends gather together brandishing shirts with her nickname.

“A month after my first fight, I had a kickboxing match just so I could get more comfortable with standing up since my base was wrestling," Moreno said. "I was really comfortable with my ground game, it was just the standing up part and kicking. From the kickboxing match I stuck to boxing and sparring. I feel really comfortable on my feet now and I’m feeling really comfortable either standing up with this girl or going to the ground.”

The girl Moreno is referring to is her opponent Saturday night, Nikola Kacperska. Both are Bantamweights who stand at 5-foot-5 and will be looking to make a splash. Though Moreno is respectful of the opposition, she feels optimistic that she can pick up the first victory of her MMA career.

“I feel like I can finish this girl standing up, and I feel like I can finish her on the ground," Moreno said. "I’m pretty comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I’m underestimating her. I’m just very confident in myself. It’s going to be a good fight, and she’s a tough girl, so I’m going to bring it to her. I’ve been training really hard, so I’m ready.”

Moreno won her last kickboxing match and she'll look to make her boxing debut soon as well.

Her fiancé, Rodriguez, will be take part in the lightweight featured preliminary match against Mykola Plazynski Saturday night. At 24 years old, she's got a lot going for her, including another kid to go with her now six-year old daughter.

Nadia Moreno (left) fights in the octagon.

For all she has going on her life, though, Moreno’s still focused on what's in front of her. No matter what happens Saturday night at the Civic Center, she's dedicated to keeping her combat dreams going.

“Win or lose I know we’re both going to walk out better fighters," Moreno said. "I’m just going to keep working and bettering myself and my craft. I’m going to be doing a bit of everything from boxing, MMA, kickboxing, Jiu Jitsu, I’m doing it all. I’m not going to stop. I’m going to just keep fighting and getting better.”

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Amarillo native Nadia Moreno aims to collect first MMA win at Peak Fighting Championship