Julaton NYC-bound after MMA debut

After traveling across the globe to make a successful transition into mixed martial arts (MMA), Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton is once again on the move.

The 33-year-old Julaton — the first Filipino-American boxer to win the women’s IBA and WBO junior featherweight championships — will travel to New York City this week to participate in Sunday’s 25th annual Philippine Independence Day parade.

The San Francisco-born boxer told SFBay she is ecstatic to attend the celebration and thanks the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. for inviting her as one of their special guests:

“It’s great to see the Philippine heritage and community continue to grow more and more domestically in the United States. I’ve been a part of the Philippine festivities in the Bay Area, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and to experience this in New York is exciting.”

Traditionally held on the first Sunday in June, the event commemorates the anniversary of when the country gained independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. It also aims to raise awareness about the Philippines’ cultural and social heritage.

Julaton is nearly a month removed from making quite a splash in her MMA debut under ONE Fighting Championship.

Fighting in front of a sold-out crowd inside Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena, Julaton defeated Egyptian kickboxing champion Aya Saeid Saber via third-round technical knockout at the “Rise of Heroes” event on May 2.

She demonstrated her boxing craft early on, landing a few left hooks and a solid straight right hand. Despite Saber’s experience, Julaton also exhibited her newfound MMA skills by using elbow strikes to reverse Saber’s armbar attempt.

But the Egyptian almost seized the victory by trapping Julaton in an excruciating guillotine choke with less than two minutes remaining in the second round.

Julaton said that despite the intense situation, she thought it was an awesome experience:

“There’s something about the warfare in martial arts I absolutely love. Thinking back, I had a lot going through my mind, to a point where I was having a conversation with myself. ‘How did I get into this position? How am I going to get out of this?’ For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous, but rather, I felt an inner surge of fight.”

Determined to win, Julaton used the strength in her right arm to escape the hold and viciously slam Saber onto the ground four times. She also managed to fully break the hold by drilling her knees into Saber’s backside for the remainder of the round.

Then in the third round, Julaton countered a takedown attempt and found an opening for a full mount position. She proceeded to viciously hammer Saber with barrages of punches and elbows until referee Oliver Coste stopped the bout with less than a minute remaining in the round.

When asked about her performance, Julaton acknowledged Saber as a game opponent and said she loved how everything played out and expects to evolve into a fully refined fighter with time:

“I see it all the time in boxing — everyone’s always gunning for me. I didn’t know what to expect from her leading into the fight because in MMA, anything can happen. My counter to that was to focus on me and what I’m bringing into the cage or ring.”

The fight against Saber was also a dream come true for Julaton, as she fought in the Philippines for the first time in her fighting career.

Her excitement was evident by the interactions she had with fans both before and throughout the fight:

“I felt the energy of everyone in the arena that night. I carry each and every one of them with me. They gave me the strength throughout the match and I wanted to make all my Kababayan happy. I can’t wait to fight in the Philippines again!”

Julaton believes that same camaraderie is what helped her countrymen and ONE FC teammates Eduard Folayang, Eugene Toquero and fellow female fighter Jujeath Nagaowa emerge victorious in their respective bouts at the “Rise of Heroes” event.

Though she is uncertain about her future as a fighter, Julaton will meet with promoter Allan Tremblay of Orion Sports Management in New York to discuss her next boxing match.

While nothing has been confirmed yet, Julaton, whose boxing record stands at 13-4-1 with 2 knockouts, could be looking at a possible date in July.

She went 1-1 in her boxing campaign last year, losing a disappointing unanimous decision to Celina Salazar in August and rebounding with a hard-fought majority decision win over Perla Hernandez this past November.

Julaton also signed a multi-fight deal with ONE FC and said she could step back inside the cage as early as August.

She has returned to the gym since the Saber fight and says she’s ready to throw down no matter which sport comes first — all while continuing to enhance her legacy as one of the most accomplished and inspiring female athletes of her generation:

“It’s important for me to continue to pursue my goals, and regardless of a win, a loss, or a draw, I want to show everyone the attitude I approach it with and that there’s longevity in fight sports as a woman … I’m just a tiny piece of the fight sports world and I’m happy to be an example of what can happen if you can stay positive and never give up.”