Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The fighter: Ana Julaton just wants to fight

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The boxer fighter
She’s no savior or game changer (yet). Ana Julaton just wants to fight.
by rick olivares

It was close to noon time when Ana Julaton arrived at the KMA Fitness and Martial Arts Gym in Salcedo Village, Makati City.

“Ana’s here,” softly said ONE Fighting Champion’s Public Relations impresario Loren Mack. Two words and just like that there was a flurry of activity as media men rushed to the side of the gym where the five-foot-five Fil-American from San Francisco was to talk about her upcoming bout against 32-year old Russian Irina Mazepa, who only has one MMA fight under her belt (it ended in a huge upset win over Malaysia’s Ann Osman). 

She patiently removed her shoes and took in questions from some two dozen journalists. She politely answered every question and posed for every photo. Every now and then she threw in “po” that made her statements in her American accent all the more lovely to hear.

“I’m respectful,” she softly said. “Until I get into that ring. Then I am going to do everything I can to win.”

She pauses then manages a smile.

“We’re not in the ring so I’m cool.”

It has been a year and seven months since she made her much ballyhooed switch from boxing to mixed martial arts. She’s 2-1 heading into the Friday match and Julaton claims she’s never been more confident in her MMA career that this bout. “My first three fights, I was boxer learning MMA,” she admits. “That was my learning curve. Since my last fight (about a year ago), I really worked on my MMA skills. So you’ll see a different Ana Julaton now.”

There remains some concern however, as she hasn’t fought competitively for a year. “I’m not sure why it took this long. Its up to ONE Championship to schedule our fights and I was looking forward to fighting in Manila this past April. I've been asking to fight all year so when Matt Hume finally called I was ready to go! I love the Philippines and I also want to make sure every time there is a MMA card in MOA Arena I will be involved."

In the time between her last fight, a unanimous decision over Walaa Abas Mohamed Kamaly during ONE FC: Warrior’s Way in December 5, 2014, Julaton has used the time to train with coach Ricky Lundell. 

‎”I don’t think ring rust will be a factor,” she promised. "I'm very confident that my team at Lundell MMA has kept me in tune and sharp with my game. On December 11th you will be seeing a complete MMA fighter. Coach Ricky along with my MMA Striking Coach Angelo Reyes has been making sure I evolve my overall game in MMA." 

Yet even as Julaton continues her new career, she can’t help but feel happy how Holly Holm gave boxing a good name when her skills helped her in that sensational knockout of Ronda Rousey a few weeks ago. “I don’t know why people are taking shots at boxing. It’s a good sport. I am happy that people recognize how boxing helped Holly be the fighter she is.”

When asked if she too, as a former boxer and as a woman, is trying to make a statement, Julaton sidesteps it. “Not at all,” she protests. “I haven’t done much in my MMA career. I just take it one fight at a time and try to execute my game plan. Stay the path and focus on my goals. I can’t be a savior or a game changer for the sport. That is such a huge responsibility. I try to keep it simple — I am a fighter. That’s it. If people say that I am the first Filipina boxer to switch to another major sport that’s nice. But being first isn’t a big deal. That’s an answer to a trivia contest. It is what comes after that matters. If people appreciate or like what I do; if they are inspired by it then that’s great. I’ll be thankful for that. But I am not Ronda, Holly, or anyone else. I like to keep my goals measurable. If I get distracted with other things then it takes away from my goals. Change? The sport changes itself.” 

“I have two more fights in my ONE FC contract. I’d like to win all three of my remaining bouts including Friday’s fight then talk to Victor Cui (ONE FC’s CEO) and see where we can go."  

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