Malaysia's first female MMA exponent to take to ONE FC stage

SINGAPORE - As a ONE Fighting Championship caged fighter, Ayung "Pyro" Jumat has traded punches, kicks, and elbows with many mean men. But it took a woman to break his nose.

Her name is Aurain "Athena" Osman and it happened during an overzealous training session when her stray elbow reshaped her coach's face.

Said Ayung, on Osman, who will become Malaysia's first female mixed martial arts (MMA) exponent to take to the ONE FC stage next month: "She's tough, strong and she's got heavy hands.

"She spars with the boys and during training, she can knock anyone out. I make it compulsory for them to put on headgear whenever they spar with her."

To tame, and also nurture, the 1.61m and 52kg fighter's increasing strength, Ayung, who heads the Borneo Tribal Fight Squad, has also upgraded her 12-ounce training gloves to 16-ounce ones - commonly recommended for boxers weighing 68kg and up.

It is this power that Osman, 27, who lives in Kota Kinabalu, will be bringing to the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 18 when she makes her professional debut against Singapore's Sherilyn Lim.

But step outside the octagon or the confines of training mats, and her aggression quickly dissipates.

Her menacing scowl becomes a merry smile as she professes her love for outdoor sports like canoeing, water rafting, or even trekking through the ridges of Mount Kinabalu - visible through a window from the Borneo Tribal Fight Squad gym where she trains.

She, however, is more guarded when it comes to her personal life, letting on little except that her family of five siblings went through a "financially rough" patch when she was younger - which she believes helped shaped her fiercely independent outlook.

In December, two months after her fight, she will also wed her 36-year-old fiance, who owns an adventure tour company in Sabah. Her family, and soon-to-be husband, are supportive of her fight ambitions.

Said the fighter, who discovered MMA after coming under the pupillage of Ayung for personal fitness training more than two years ago: "They are amazingly supportive. When I'm tired, they motivate me. I feel blessed."

Sacrifices have been made. For the past year, Osman has been training seven days a week for at least three hours a day.

It has not been easy. Prior to having secured their indoor 1,600 sq ft facility only a month ago, the squad trained in public areas in what Ayung terms "gypsy-style".

They lugged their training mats and fight equipment to squash courts, the Tanjung Aru beach, and even the 1,800m high Crocker mountain range - for high-altitude training. Said Osman: "Sacrifices have to be made to get everything you want."

And what the fighter with a 2-0 amateur Muay Thai record wants, is a debut victory in her first professional fight on Asia's largest MMA fight promotion.

She has the 22-year-old Lim, who represents local outfit Fight G, sized up. But she would not reveal her game plan.

Said the Malaysian, with a half-convincing laugh: "If I tell you, I would have to kill you."

Her coach is expecting a fiery first-round knockout when the two women meet. He said: "Both women are very aggressive and both won't want to back off.

"It's going to be a good fight and Ann's (Osman) going to knock Sherilyn out in the first round."

Coming from a man who has a first-hand experience of Osman's prowess, the Singaporean has been warned.

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