twitter google

Interview With Female Fighter Angela Magana

In light of the attention female mixed martial arts has recently garnered from prime time television coverage of Gina Carano, I had the privilege of interviewing 7th ranked fighter Angela Magana. She gave me her thoughts on the current state of women’s MMA and her plans for the future.

Angela, who competes at 115 pounds with a professional MMA record of 5-1-1, turned 25 earlier this year, and has a bright outlook in the sport despite her troubled past. She escaped East L.A. and her heroin-addicted parents’ home by moving to Northern New Mexico to live with her grandparents. Once there, she became an accomplished Golden Gloves amateur boxer amassing over 40 fights. In Junior High and High School, Angela was the only female wrestler on the team and overcame all the prejudice that came with it. However, her drive to be the best propelled her beyond the stereotypes. Angela enjoyed destroying the bias she faced almost as much as destroying her all-male opponents. “Guys quit after I beat them.”

On May 31st, 2008, Magana refused to quit in the biggest fight of her career. In Claremore, Oklahoma, before a hostile, standing-room-only crowd, she won her co-main event match for the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s Championship by defeating hometown favorite, and so-called ‘first professional female MMA fighter from Oklahoma,’ Nicdali “The Nite Queen” Calanoc.

Angela rotates her training between UFC veteran Floyd Sword’s Team Four Corners in Farmington, NM (where she also teaches classes), and Durango Martial Arts with pro fighter Chris Jones in Durango, CO. Angela has a six-year-old daughter, and balancing her fight preparation and personal life offers its own unique challenge. “The guys in the gym don’t realize [my responsibilities]. [My child] has to be in bed my 8 p.m., and some nights we don’t even start to train jiu-jitsu until after 8 p.m. The guys can leave their kids at home with the wife. Not me! I’m a single mom.” Sometimes, she simply brings her daughter to the gym, and when I asked her whether she would encourage her child to pursue MMA, Angela responded, “She does train a little bit of jiu-jitsu. She doesn’t like to tap out. I think we both have a really high tolerance for pain.”

Angela is excited about the possibilities in, and the outlook of, female MMA, and, when I asked what her reaction would be to a promotion’s attempts to turn her into a sex symbol, she added, “If they want to put make-up on me and dress me up cute and use that . . . I mean, what do people love? Sex and violence. I’ll use it. It opens doors. Like Gina [Carano] and American Gladiators. I’ll use it to open doors. Even though I am a better fighter than I am a ‘hot chick,’ it seems things happen faster for the pretty girls”

Angela Magana hopes that the doors in MMA competition will open even wider in the near future. She is set to fight in an eight-person tournament for a championship belt in January 2009 and will star in the lead of a BBC documentary covering the event. Angela gets several phone calls per month from other promotions, and she is enjoying her success. “Now, I don’t have to plan my life around my fights; I can plan my fights around my life.”

When I asked Angela about her ‘wish list’ of future opponents, she called out the toughest fighters in her weight class: Lisa Ward, Megumi "Mega Megu" Fujii, and Yuka Tsuji. She has one other opponent she would love to fight: Jessica Aguilar—whom she has faced twice. Each fight ended controversially, and Angela wants another shot, “I would fight her for no money.”

Angela Magana’s toughness is unquestionable, and she takes great pride in refusing to quit. After breaking her back in September 2007, she proved her mettle to everyone by taking three fights in the six months following the removal of her body cast. Angela realizes that the sport has evolved and constantly seeks to improve her skills. She said, “There are a lot of girls who think they are ‘tough,’ but they are not very technical. They are good at a lot of things but not great at anything. That doesn’t work anymore. You have to be great at more than one thing.” Finally, I asked her to rate her chances for success in MMA. Magana replied, “I’m going to do good because winning isn’t always about winning. It’s about never giving up. I don’t give up. I live my dreams.”