Sometimes the battles MMA fighters face extend beyond the cage – just ask the latest addition to the UFCs womens ranks, Liana Jojua.
The Georgian bantamweight, 23, penned a four-fight deal with the worlds leading MMA promotion earlier this month.
Jojua heads to the UFC with a record of seven wins from nine fights, as well as the accolade of being the first-ever female professional MMA title holder in Russia, having claimed the inaugural Fight Nights Global bantamweight championship in Moscow last year.
Speaking to RTs Ruptly video agency at a gym on the outskirts of the Russian capital, Jojua said she is pursuing a dream she has nurtured since her youth, which she spent idolizing American women's MMA pioneer Gina Carano.
“Ive being doing martial arts for six years, but MMA for the past four years professionally,” Jojua said.
“I love fights, watching fights, I watched the fights of [American MMA legend] Gina Carano, I loved the sport and her."
But as her passion for the fight game grew, she faced a different battle convincing her parents that it was the right career for her.
“I persuaded my parents to let me do Muay Thai when I was 16.
“My father thought it wasnt something for women, and I wouldnt argue with that, but as a profession, someones a doctor, someones a driver, Im a fighter, its my job, my income, and I love doing it,” she added.
“My mother, of course like any mother, would worry about her sons or daughters health, she was always absolutely against it.
“Her first question after a fight is, what happened, do you have any injuries, how is your opponent? She even worries about my opponent.
“My father watches fights, hes proud of me.
“My mother cant watch, I dont want her to worry, she watches the replays, but she cant watch it live and I dont want her to,” said Jojua.
Both parents have had plenty to watch so far, with their daughter heading into the UFC on a five-five win streak.
The last of those victories came against Russias Marina Mokhnatkina at a Fight Nights Global (FNG) event in Moscow last February, when Jojua claimed a majority decision win after a grueling five rounds.
The youngster cites that bout as her toughest test in the cage to date.
“My last fight was the toughest, Fight Nights against Marina Mokhnatkina… it was really tough, five rounds, 25 minutes… morally as well, I had pressure from the press and fans,” Jojua said.
“I was the underdog, I knew she was strong. When the fight finished, my face was battered.”
That kind of experience will be essential for Jojua as she joins a UFC bantamweight division bristling with threats at every turn.
Brazilian star Amanda Nunes is the apex predator, but dangers lurk in the form of the Netherlands Germaine de Randamie, Americas Holly Holm, and Russias very own Yana Kunitskaya – to name but a few.
But the young, hungry fighter nicknamed Mgeli – which translates from Georgian as She Wolf – will relish hunting down the established names in the promotion.
The UFC is also, of course, a terrain roamed by giants of the mens game, including Russian lightweight chamRead More