Amanda Serrano is Making Her MMA Debut on April 13
The women’s empowerment movement that has been running through MMA in the last few years has led to many women competing in other martial arts disciplines and combat sports to crossover. Often, this can be attributed to the not just the opportunity that exists in women’s MMA, but also the lack of opportunity in most other combat sports.
Women’s boxing is probably the most relevant of examples, as the female side of the sport seems to still be living in the stone ages. The promoters and networks usually refuse to televise female bouts, even at the highest levels of the sport. Although a few women like Heather Hardy and Claressa Shields have managed to crack through the glass ceiling in the last few years, with Hardy participating in the first female fight in over 25 years to be shown on national television in 2016, and Shields having a main event slot on Showtime this past January, the territory of women’s boxing being in the public eye still remains largely uncharted.
With the lack of pay, exposure, and respect that women are getting in the ring, many are making their way over to cage. Holly Holm is probably the most famous and notable example of a crossover athlete, as she was one of the most dominant champions in boxing in 3 different weight divisions with a professional record of 33-2-3. She transitioned into MMA in 2011, of course going on to be the first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey, and becoming the first person, man or woman, to hold titles in both boxing and MMA.
The latest example is none other than Amanda Serrano, one of the greatest female boxers alive. The 5-division world champion is set to make her debut in MMA debut in Combate Americas, which is regarded as the premier Hispanic MMA promotion. Struggling to get recognition in boxing, she’ll be sprung into the spotlight with her first fight against Erendira “Aketzaly” Ordoñez at flyweight, which will be broadcast on national and international television on Univision and serve as the co-main event of the "Combate Estrellas I,” card.
Combate Americas has a growing list of female fighters, with women competing at atomweight, strawweight and flyweight in the promotion. With a clearly vested interest in promoting Serrano’s skills (as she’s going to be half of the co-main event in her debut), I spoke to Serrano about what the opportunity means to her as a female athlete, who has seen the door been slammed in her face in boxing one too many times.
You met former UFC champion Miesha Tate (her now manager and mentor) filming the movie Fight Valley. Was seeing the level of success and promotion that she had in MMA what made you want to go into the sport?
AMANDA: It was definitely an eye opener. I am the most accomplished female boxer, being a 5-division world champion, and being the first woman to do so and I still haven’t gotten the opportunities that women deserve. Filming the movie with Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, and Holly Holm, seeing the success that these type of women were having, and actually having a conversation with Holly Holm and her saying her biggest regret was not going into MMA sooner. I was like “Wow,” she’s had a lot of success in boxing...and looking at her success and how well she’s done for herself in MMA I said, “Let me try it.”
Having the connection with Miesha Tate, when I decided I was going to go full-force with MMA she decided to come aboard and wanted to be my manager. Who better than a former UFC and Strikeforce champion to have with me by my side?
How long have you been cross-training in MMA?
AMANDA: For almost 2 years. I started kicking about 2 years back and then I stopped. Then, I was doig a little bit of Jui-Jitsu and wrestling but I stopped because I was getting better opportunities in boxing. I was the first female in over 10 years to be on Showtime Extreme. So, I was getting these great opportunities, but it was still at a standstill. Still, nothing was happening. After winning 5 divisions and I’m still trying to get my promoter, the networks, and people to notice female boxing and still nothing? So, I said “What the heck? Let me try it [MMA]!” and now I have a great promotion, Combate Americas, and I’m extremely proud to be with them, a great manager, and hopefully a great career in front of me in MMA.
Is it true that you’re planning to continue boxing and do both simultaneously?
AMANDA: After this fight, I’m hoping to go for my 6th division. So, fingers-crossed everything goes well and I can go for my 6th division. I mean, I only have a couple of more fights in boxing...I want to have the worthy fights. I’m not just going to fight anybody.
Hopefully, after a year more of boxing, I can fully concentrate on MMA and have a great MMA career. I want to give my all to MMA like I did in boxing.
In terms of your MMA career, do you have a path you foresee yourself going on? Do you have hopes to eventually fight in the UFC?
AMANDA: No, I actually am happy where I’m at right now. Combate Americas is predominantly for Latinos and I am a proud Boricua. So, I’m extremely happy where I’m at and have no plans to leave this promotion. They’ve treated me well so I just want to be the best for them. I want to become their champion, their first 125 lb. champion, so that’s my goal.
What are you the most nervous about in terms of the differences between MMA and boxing, going into your first bout?
AMANDA: I’m not afraid. I always get nervous, even before my fights in boxing. I’ve been doing it for 11 years and to this day I still get nervous. I guess it’s going to be like when I first went into a boxing ring, it’s going to be a different atmosphere, it’s going to be a cage and not ropes. So, that might be a little overwhelming. It’s definitely going to be different.
As you pointed out earlier, women are still not being given many opportunities in the boxing world. Do you hope that can show the boxing promoters what they’re missing through the attention you’ll get in MMA?
AMANDA: I’m not just fighting for myself, to prove to myself that I can do this. I have to prove to the critics, the reporters, the news, the promoters, and the networks that we put on a show. I’m now fighting on Univision, the biggest Spanish TV network- they need to take notice that we females can put on a show and bring people to watch us.
Do you have any sort of vision of how you see yourself winning?
AMANDA: Nothing’s changed! I’m going into a new sport but the outcome I want is always going to be the same, a nice knockout. Especially with 4 oz. gloves, I think it will come and with 5 minute rounds, I have more time to hit her.
Serrano’s transition into MMA will be a big moment for both the women’s boxing and MMA arenas, as she has the chance to prove to those on both sides of the aisle that women can and will perform when giving the same opportunities as men. Make sure to tune in on April 13th at 12AM EST on Univision, to see “The Real Deal,” begin to make her mark in mixed martial arts.