[Gameplan] What does it take to be an MMA champion?

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-seven year-old Geli Bulaong is the Women's Flyweight Champion of the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), and is part of the Philippine National Muay Thai team, which means overcoming pain is part of her daily routine. 

"Hindi naman maiiwasan na masakit katawan mo because it's a very contact sport. 'Yung body pain, parang kakambal niya 'yung MMA," she said.

(You can't avoid body pain because it's a contact sport. You can't take body pain out of mixed martial arts.)

For Geli, being a warrior doesn't end inside the cage. MMA has taught her to be strong, positive, and disciplined in her everyday life. Her road to becoming a champion wasn't showered with rose petals. She had a lot of doubts.

"MMA is not for the weak of heart. Habang pinu-pursue ko itong career na ito, maraming obstacles. Noong nag-start ako, we don't get paid 'pag lumalaro ka. Naisip ko noon, saan ba ko dadalhin nito? May future ba ako dito? I'm a graduate of culinary, pero bakit ako nagsi-stick dito?" she asked herself.

(MMA is not for the weak of heart. There were a lot of obstacles while I was pursuing this career. I wasn't getting paid when I was just starting. I didn't know where this was going to take me. I asked myself if there was a future in this. I'm a culinary graduate, but why am I putting up with this?)

In the end, the power of her ambitions pulled her through these doubts.

"Kailangan mayroong nagpu-push sa'yo. Ano 'yung dreams mo, 'yung aspirations mo. So 'yun talaga 'yung makakapagpa-bangon sa'yo. You have to be a slave ng pangarap mo – not of money, not of anything else, but your dream," she said.

(There has to be something that pushes you. What are your dreams and aspirations? That's what will make you get up in the morning. You have to be a slave of your dreams – not of money, not of anything else, but your dream). – Rappler.com