Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

UFC star Alberto Mina throws his weight behind Hong Kong’s Ramona Pascual

Brazilian star jets into town as his partner’s fighting career looks set to take off

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 2017, 9:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 2017, 9:46am

One-time Hong Kong-based Ultimate Fighting Championship star Alberto Mina has made a mad dash across the globe to be in the corner for partner and fellow fighter Ramona Pascual when she steps out at IMPI World Series Asia 6 on Saturday night.

The Brazilian says he has high hopes for the Hongkonger both then and beyond.

“She’s at the crucial tipping point in terms of age and her situation,” said Mina, during a surprise appearance at Friday’s weigh-in after he’d flown in from California late on Thursday night.

“I believe in Asia if she gets to 3-0 she can start looking towards something bigger.

“It might seem a long way off at this stage, but Pascual has no doubt taken note of the rise of ONE Championship world atomweight champion Angela Lee, and the enormous global attention given to the likes of the UFC’s stable of female stars including Ronda Rousey, Miesha Taite, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.”

The 28-year-old Pascual (2-0) will become the first local woman to contest a mixed martial arts title – and to headline an MMA card – when she faces the Singapore-based Jennifer Leigh Norris (2-0) for the IMPI World Series crown at the Southorn Indoor Stadium.

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Mina had been training Pascual at the Epic MMA gym in Central for the past four years before heading back home to Campina Grande, Brazil, back in November, to set up a CrossFit franchise he hopes can help fund his desire to concentrate more fully on a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career that has so far seen him go 3-0, stretching the 34-year-old’s record in MMA to 13-0.

Mina has also been training at the famed Kings MMA gym in West Hollywood as he looks to land another fight for himself, either at UFC Rio on June 3 or possibly even on the card as UFC makes is return to Asia with the card in Singapore on June 17.

“I want to concentrate on my fight career 100 per cent,” said Mina. “In May, I will move to LA and become a full-time fighter.”

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First and foremost, though, comes Pascual and a fight the couple hopes will grab her more attention at home and overseas, as MMA globally increasingly looks to unearth Asian stars to help the sport continue its reach into the region.

“I’ve been watching from afar and trying to check on her training, give her positive thoughts,” said Mina.

“Keep the pressure outside of the cage and just let her be herself. She’ll always fight under the Hong Kong flag, but she might come out to California and train there [at Kings] too. We’re taking it step by step. Once she goes 3-0 we can start looking for something more.”

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Pascual looked lean – and hungry – at the weigh-in, and said she would spend the afternoon leaning on Mina’s experience both as a fighter and a coach.

“We’ll probably just move around a bit, get into the pads and just work out how it’s going to go,” said Pascual.

While she was preparing to chow down on a peanut butter, banana and jelly sandwich, her opponent was off to trim down a few pounds in order to make the wait after failing the first time around.

“This is my third training camp since last August so I am feeling a lot more confident,” said Pascual.

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“I’ve been working on getting more well-rounded and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job on that. I don’t really have a structure game plan but we’re probably going to go in striking.

“But if she wants to take it to the ground I am prepared as well. As soon as I got on the scales and off again I am ready. I can hang out wherever now. I still try to keep a little bit of discipline and more of the fun foods come later.”