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Martial arts

I sacrificed too much to lose – Hong Kong fighter Ramona Pascual gets career back on track with win over Korean rival

The 29-year-old earns a unanimous decision over home hope Jin Seo-woo at South Korea’s Road FC 45 XX event, justifying her decision to shift base

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 December, 2017, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 December, 2017, 10:05pm

Ramona Pascual had said she was taking a gamble when she took off to South Korea back in August to further her mixed martial arts career.

The decision is paying dividends now, with the latest payout coming on Saturday night when the Hong Kong fighter scored a unanimous decision over local hope Jin Seo-woo in their bantamweight clash on the Xiaomi Road FC 45 XX card in Seoul.

Just how much the win meant to Pascual was writ large in her reaction to the judge’s decision and she sunk to her knees.

“Over the whole year I feel like I have come full circle,” said Pascual afterwards. “Essentially I put five months into this. To be here, to do the show, to fight to actually get a fight – I’ve felt more pressure than I have ever felt before. It’s a big stage, and I had to turn down two or three fight offers just to train over here. Finally it happened after a lot of trials and battling my own fears. So that all makes this win so much sweeter.”

The win took the 29-year-old Pacual’s record in mixed martial arts to 3-2 and – importantly – arrested a 0-2 slide this year that had left her scratching her head, and searching for answers.

The professional MMA set-up in South Korea seems to be providing plenty of those so far, with Pascual saying pre-bout she felt like an entirely new fighter, given what she had learned across four months of training, first with the Road FC organisation and then with Team Gangnam in Seoul.

Pascual also proved popular with the Korean audience after being recruited to appear on the hit local reality TV show Fearless Guys, a move that has widened her fan base and her opportunities – as her place on the huge Road FC card on Saturday night would attest.

Pascual had come in to the two-rounder aware of the threats the 20-year-old Jin posed – given they were cast mates on Fearless Guys – and keen to put what she had been learning into practice.

“The game plan was to keep my chin down and go in,” said Pascual. “That’s the Korean way and new territory for me. I had a reach and height advantage but she kept closing the distance with big hooks. Throwing knees is a strength of mine with my Muay Thai background so I just kept throwing them.”

While Jin managed to have Pascual against the wire for long periods of the fight, the Hongkonger used her knees to land some telling and repeated blows. Come the bell for the second round, and Pascual came out as though she was thinking it was now, or never.

“It was clear to me that I had lost the first round,” said Pascual. “I thought to myself that I didn’t come all this way just to lose by decision. I’d sacrificed so much of myself and my time it felt like there was so much on the line.

“I never sacrificed so much for something in my entire life. I left my secure job, my family and friends and put myself in so many tough situations. All I could think of was throwing my knees, so I just did over and over – and it worked out.”