Team Lakay standout Gina “Conviction” Iniong is arguably the most popular female atomweight competitor in the field of women’s mixed martial arts in the Philippines.
However, she lost some luster after bowing to two of the three former world title contenders that she faced on the ONE Championship stage.
The 29-year-old Baguio City native admitted that she was outworked by Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi in their November 2017 rematch at ONE: Immortal Pursuit in Singapore, yielding to her Japanese rival via unanimous decision.
Although she was able to pick up a dominant unanimous decision win over ex-world title challenger Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang this past April, Iniong lost again last July as she was overwhelmed by Brazilian spitfire Istela Nunes’ length and size advantage to keep her out of range over the course of three rounds to drop another decision loss.
“I failed to show what we have trained for in those two matches against top contenders of the division. Those are definitely tough losses to take, but it is a perfect opportunity for me to learn and improve,” Iniong said
After going back to the drawing board to review what went wrong in her outings against Yamaguchi and Nunes, Iniong is now eager to get back to action to prove to all and sundry that she is still one of the top caliber competitors in the deep 52.2-kilogram weight class.
“Coach Mark always tells me to not be disappointed, but instead be more motivated to become better. Losing is part of the game, which gives me the urgency to improve,” she said.
Iniong is very vocal of her desire to become a world champion under the promotion’s umbrella, but after evaluating her previous performances, she conceded to the fact that she is not yet ready to vie for the division’s intricately-crafted hardware.
“There is a lot of work to do. Yes, it’s my dream to have a world title belt strapped around my waist. It takes time and patience to get to that moment. I am willing to work for it,” she said.
The six-time Philippine National Wushu Champion also believes that she needs to work her way to the top and face the best of ONE Championship’s female atomweight bracket if she would like to earn a title shot in the future.
“We are working on different things at the gym. There are things that need to be improved and skills that have to be sharpened. I’m willing to start from the bottom and climb my way to the top of the rankings. I’m willing to fight anyone that they will put in front of me,” said Iniong.
With ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS in Manila, Philippines on 23 November now starting to fill its slots, Iniong is hoping to be part of the massive ONE: Conquest of Champions card in Manila on November 23. It headlines a lightweight championship clash between Team Lakay’s Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Singaporean sensation Amir Khan.
“That is the perfect event for me to show how hungry I am to get back on the winning track, to showcase the improvements in my game, and to let the rest of the division know that they can’t count me out yet,” she said.
The recent championship success of her teammates Geje Eustaquio, Joshua Pacio and Kevin Belingon inspires Iniong to perform at the best of her abilities to achieve more in the sport.
“Witnessing my teammates succeed motivates me to come back even better and prove to everyone that I deserve my spot here at ONE Championship. They will be seeing a different Gina Iniong in my next fight,” Iniong said.