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 the luster of her distinguished billing 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 headed back to the abominable losing territory 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 pointed out.
After going back to the drawing board to review what went wrong in her outings against Yamaguchi and Nunes, Iniong is now eager to return to action to prove to all and sundry that she is still one of the top caliber competitors in the deep atomweight 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 stated.
Iniong is very vocal of her desire to become a world champion, 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 be strapped around my waist. It takes time and patience to get to that moment. I am willing to work for it,” she shared.
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,” Iniong disclosed.
“I’m willing to fight anyone that they will put in front of me.”
With ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila, Philippines on November 23 now starting to fill its slots, Iniong is hoping to be part of the massive card, which is headlined by a lightweight championship clash between Team Lakay comrade 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.”
With the recent championship conquests of her teammates such as Geje Eustaquio, Joshua Pacio, and Kevin Belingon, they have inspired 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 everyone that I deserve my spot here at ONE Championship,” Iniong guaranteed.
“They will be seeing a different Gina Iniong in my next fight.”
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