Ana Julaton is one of those grinders who toe the line between persistence and pest. This is not a knock; in some fields, you have to do that dance if you want to get ahead, have to have some sharpened elbows, and willingness to maybe be one email over the line, and make that occasional phone call to a potential difference-maker who has already ignored two of your email requests to touch base.
Nope, it's not a knock at all, because I know what she knows, that she's talented, and ambitious and owns other traits which should be part of an overall package which doesn't much exist in the US, that being the boxing scene for females.
And I dare say it should. Her skills, her technique stand up to that of the men, and then some. And why shouldn't some broadcast entity take a leap, fashion a little niche for themselves, corner the market on women's boxing? It's not like the cost would be prohibitive, as athletes like Julaton are used to subsisting on so-so paydays while they do their climb up the ranks, and even when they win title belts.
I checked in with the fighter, who took part in a mixed martial arts fight on Aug. 29, for the ONE FC organization, which has been running since 2011, out of Singapore.The 34-year-old fighter, who lives in California, owns a 13-4-1 boxing record, and dropped to 1-1 in MMA when she lost to Ann Osman in Brazil. The record book says she lost, anyway. Julaton's account differs somewhat."It was a split decision loss, but I felt like I did more damage overall and did enough to win the fight and get the decision," she told me. "I'm ready to go back in MMA ASAP!" She sent along highlights from her scrap.
"I am really still trying to understand the judging criteria in MMA," she continued. "When the rules for ONE FC were explained to me before the fight, Near KO/Submission was the #1, damage is #2 and striking combinations and generalship is #3 for criteria in judging the winner. Ground control is #4, takedowns #5, takedown defense is #6 and aggression is #7 all in descending order of importance. Based on the criteria shouldn't I have gotten the nod in victory? There was no damage done to me at all... so does a failed submission attempt count more points than just plain hurting my opponent through striking?"
The persistent hitter ain't done lobbying. "Even on the ground when I was on my back you'll notice I did a lot of Floyd Mayweather style deflections which is why Osman never lands anything clean.. so just because someone is on top of you does that mean they are winning even though nothing is landing? On the reverse side when I was on top, my strikes would connect and those knees I gave her caused a lot of damage. One judge and almost everyone in the arena (in Dubai) that night felt I won," she declared.
"I am happy that the crowd and all the people watching were excited and entertained. Win, lose or draw you will never see me in a boring fight. I always leave my heart in battle and in both my first two MMA fights I was caught in a guillotine choke and survived to win via KO and last Friday I was caught in an armbar and again I almost had a third round KO. People can always expect me to never give up in the cage and know that I always have the KO power to win in MMA. I'm still learning and young in this sport and with a stage that gives us fighters a billion viewers I will definitely be back. "
So, what brought her to the MMA cage, anyway?
"Hands down, I love fighting. I've spent over ten years in the sweet science and have won world titles, fought all over the world, and I enjoy performing classic fights. I've watched ONE FC develop over the past couple of years and it had me reminisce about my martial arts background. The CEO of ONE FC, Victor Cui, offered me an exclusive MMA deal while I am able to continue my boxing career. Victor cares about his fighters and knew how much boxing means to me and was generous enough to give me such opportunity. I couldn't miss this opportunity, what fighter would?"
And how long have you been training for it?
"I've started my MMA training earlier this year and it has been consistent," she said. "Practicing the different aspects of MMA has been demanding yet at the same time, fun. I think it's important for a fighter to know her/his weak points and apply what is effective in a match. I remember winning the WBO world title in Canada when Freddie Roach trained me and instructed me to only use the jab in the first nine rounds."
I take it you will still box?
"Of course, there are some goals I'd like to achieve in boxing before I hang it up," she continued. "That is also the reason why Victor Cui offered me an exclusive MMA contract with ONE FC while continuing with boxing. Also, I've been in touch with Bob Arum for a possible fight in the near future. I'm hoping for the best but I'm taking my MMA and boxing schedule one day at a time.
Can you tell me a bit more about fighting for ONE FC?
"ONE FC is a world class organization and is the biggest MMA company in the continent of Asia, reaching to a billion viewership with a 90% market share," she said, with a PR flak's expertise. "ONE FC follows the global rule set which is considered to bring MMA closest to real fighting, providing the most exciting fights for fans. Also, ONE FC cares about its fighters. Today, after the fighters' meeting Cui stopped in, spoke to all the fights, thanking us for doing a great job with promoting fights and providing exciting fights. He even shared a personal story of one of the fighters, and for a CEO of a company to know his own employees like that says a lot about the company. And he gave me that two-sport contract allowance because he knew how important that was to me."
Tell me, please, about the differences in fighting in MMA vs boxing, the combat AND the outside the ring stuff.
"I'd say physical damage: in ONE FC, if a fighter receives a devastating strike, like a knee to the face, etc., the referee will stop the fight right away, there are no eight counts to recover," Julaton said. "Whereas in boxing, a downed fighter, if still conscious, will get an eight count to recover to continue. A perfect example is Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo 1. Corrales gets dropped in the second half of the fight and recovers to knock out Castillo in the next round. Boxers fight through pain and damage as they take punches to the head and body throughout the fight. And the pace between the two sports are different. In championship fights, MMA is scheduled for five 5 minute rounds, with one minute breaks between rounds; boxing schedules 12 three minute rounds, with 1 minute breaks in between. They are two completely different sports. As for the business side.... MMA runs as a league and typically, a roster of fighters in a weight division will be signed and eventually gets scheduled to fight each other. It's the competitive fights that are being sold to the public and branded for the company. Boxing on the other hand, has a different format. Boxing promoters sign stars, fighters that appeal to the masses. The popularity of the fighter is what drives the success of the promotional company. So far, I love how ONE FC recognizes my accomplishments in boxing and I have the ability to expose myself. And vice versa, the activity in MMA will continue building my brand in boxing."
She then put back on her boxing hat, and informed me that, "Did you know that in female boxing WBO 122 pound champion Marcela Acuna just had a great fight with Soledad Matthysse (Lucas' sister) a couple weekends ago in Argentina? Do you know that WBA 122 pound champ Jackie Nava is about to fight WBC 122 pound champ Alicia Ashley in a unification this weekend in Mexico? These are four of the very best boxers we have in the world and yet you don't get to see it in Showtime or HBO and I didn't see a lot of boxing writers talking about it.... I'm just saying."
And I'm just listening'….Point taken. I didn't know, and it could be argued I should. I send props to the persistent Julaton for banging this drum, and shining her spotlight on other performers. That's a selfless act, one of a leader, and she is that in this realm. Here's hoping some bigwig listens and rewards her and the ladies who work so hard, on small stages, for minute purses.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?