By Keith Shillan
I got to speak with former professional boxing champion and MMA fighter, before her Bellator 185 matchup against Lisa Blaine as part of the Bellator 185 media scrum. Here are some of the highlights
Keith: You have been fighting for the Asian MMA crowd. How excited are you to be making your Bellator debut on TV in front of the American market?
Ana: I love it. I need it to build my brand. It is phenomenal for both the physical and marketable ends. I get to compete against the best, and also build my name brand.
Keith: Your opponent, Lisa Blaine isn’t nearly as accomplished in the combat sports world as you are. What have you seen in her and what do you expect of her.
Ana: Women MMA fighters are extremely competitive. I expect her to come out guns blazing. I expect her to come after me. Because of my name and what I have accomplished in the past, I have a target on my back. I am expecting a game fighter.
Keith: You have made a push to fight fellow boxing champion turned MMA fighter, Heather Hardy. She is getting a huge push from Bellator. Do you feel like you are getting the same push from Bellator? Do you think you deserve a bigger push than her?
Ana: I am not gonna point fingers. I am not gonna someone is pushing the other person more than anybody. I am just happy to have this stage. I don’t worry about that. I have my own team. We have been involved with a lot of media coverage. I think it will take care of itself. The important thing for me is to get her to understand that she needs to fight me.
Keith: Why do you have your heart so set on fighting her? Is to something personal?
Ana: I just think she is the right person to fight. I don’t have anything against her personally. She has worked hard to get everything that she has gotten. She calls herself “the Heat”. If she wants to handle all the heat, she is gonna have to take it. This is what I have already done. I had to go through this. As a fighter, it is my job to challenge the best.
Keith: You have been very successful in boxing. You are just starting in MMA. What has been the hardest transition from the two sports?
Ana: That is a great question! The cultures are completely different. I feel MMA at the highest level, you must be able to be ready for all the different styles and strategies. You also have to know who you are. As my friend, Paulie Malignaggi says “as a fighter, you must know who you are and who you are not”. I have taken the last couple of years to learn how to take my experience and put it in MMA. That is the hardest battle so far.
Keith: You tried getting on the 26th season of the Ultimate Fighter show? You didn’t get selected. Did they ever tell you why you weren’t chosen?
Ana: No. I just think that’s how that organization works. There was a lot of other standouts that didn’t get picked either. I think the public will see what the UFC motivates is with the show.
Keith: How does the fight end?
Ana: I have a lot of options! It really depends on what she does. Does she come at me? Does she sit back and try to counter? I will tell you what. I have been working on every aspect of the game. So whatever comes.