This Friday evening on AXS TV we'll see Lion Fight return to Connecticut with Lion Fight 20. While women headlining major fight cards is still a bit of a misnomer in combat sports Lion Fight is unafraid to place their Women's Welterweight Champion Jorina Baars as their headliner. Baars will be fighting the tough veteran that is Chantal Ughi in what is a rematch from a few years ago. Both women are world-renowned and have fought the best of the best, but for right now Jorina is the woman to beat.
We briefly spoke with Jorina heading into the fight this Friday about the American media coverage that has come from the Cris Cyborg Justino victory as well as how she feels about the rematch with Ughi.
You’ve fought Chantal Ughi before and it was a close fight, how do you feel that you’ve evolved since then and how different of a fight will this be?
I have evolved in different ways, I developed and gained more experience in Muay Thai, have become stronger physically and mentally. I still train and fight for SportsArt Den Helder and started training with Andre Mannaart from Mejiro Gym to assist in coaching me, he has been the trainer of many champions such as Rob Kaman, Remy Bonjasky, Peter Aerts, Andy Souwer there is a lot of talent at both Mejiro Gym and SportsArt and all my trainings partners at both these gyms have helped me evolve. I've also been training a lot with Marieke Post, she's a professional fighter as well and a friend, we battle together in the gym each day and she has pushed me forward and I gain lots of strength from her knowledge and passion to fight.
Chantal Ughi is a tough opponent who has made a name for herself by fighting in Thailand, while you have made a name for yourself by fighting in Europe. Do you consider this a clash in styles or traditions?
No I do not think it is a clash of styles and/or traditions, in Muay Thai there are more possibilities than in K1, Glory or Kickboxing rules, that means that this will be a more exciting fight.
The win over Cyborg Justino was a huge one, how did it feel knowing that many fans saw this as an easy fight for her only to see you outclass her throughout most of the fight?
There was a lot of talk about the Cyborg fight and most fight fans thought that she was going to beat me, they were unfamiliar with me, didn’t know who I am. But the talk after the fight is that Cyborg only had 2 Muay Thai fights and Jorina has 36. Cyborg proved to be a great Sport and was honest about it, she stated that she fights anybody, anytime, she accepted the fight and knew where she was up against. I respect Cyborg for that !
Did you feel that you were perhaps being looked over by many people going into the fight against Cyborg?
I am sure some people overlooked me going into the Cyborg fight. I never underestimated Cyborg, never underestimate any opponent that is put in front of me. I knew where I was up against as well, Cyborg was a very worthy opponent and she came to fight, we both fought hard and I enjoyed that fight very much. I am always coming to fight, no ifs ands or buts it is what the Fans and Lion Fight expect me to do and it is what I do best.
Have you gotten a lot more attention since the Cyborg win, or has it only been in the United States, really?
I get attention through the Social Media and some Dutch Newspapers after the last fight, now for the upcoming fight against Ughi the newspapers have shown interests again and published some articles. My day to day life is still the same, I work at a nightclub in Amsterdam as a Bouncer, its happens every once in a while that a guest at our club comes to me and says; “You are Jorina, right ?” it flatters me and respond “Yes, that’s me !”
You’ve dabbled in mixed martial arts before, is that something that you’d like to try again some time, or are you content sticking with muay thai?
I switched to MMA as it was impossible to find anyone to fight me on Muay Thai rules, I like MMA but for now, or at least for the time I am under contract with Lion Fight Promotions I will stay and remain focused on Muay Thai.
Do you feel that there are any specific challenges or hurdles that you have to overcome as a woman in fighting sports?
Women have to train just as hard as their male colleagues, it is easier to get fights as a man, there are just a lot more men fighting then there are women, it’s supply and demand, plain and simple. Women are underappreciated in the fight business, but there are lots of improvements happening and I am happy to see that and be on the first row of experiencing it.
Is there any one fight out there that you haven’t gotten yet that you’ve really wanted to happen?
Yes there is, I would love to fight Germaine de Randamie. She is a very good and strong fighter. Before she fought in the UFC, both our teams were looking for a promoter who could let us fight at their event, as of today that has not happened yet. Maybe and hopefully Lion Fight can make that fight happen and I will happily accept that opportunity.
What kind of responsibility do you feel as a World Champion for a sport?
Yes we are an example to all fans, kids and adults alike. There is a tremendous responsibility with that and I enjoy having to deal with that, in matter of fact it is an honor. I always like to inspire kids to take on Muay Thai as it not only helps them physically but also mentally, it builds their confidence that they will able to benefit from the rest of their lives. I like to portray the fighting sports and muay thai in a positive light, always have. There are still some misunderstandings for this Sport, especially in the Netherlands and I like to set that record straight and continue to do be righteous– Osu !