Team Grasso’s Abigail Montes defeated Claudia Zamora in her pro debut via unanimous decision last friday at Combate 45, and a one-week stay near the Cerro La Catedral mountain made the difference.
Montes and her teammates at Lobo MMA traveled up to the Otomi Ceremonial Center for training. Many fighters train at the center located in Temoaya, State of Mexico, because it is approximately 10,498 feet above sea level altitude.
“Now, I can acknowledge that training [in Temoaya] helped me out a lot because my stamina was superior. It allowed me to continue throwing punches and add pressure to my opponent,” Montes said in Spanish. “I felt so confident that my cardio wouldn’t fail me because of the training that I did in high altitudes.”
Montes didn’t feel confident in the opening round, she said. Guadalajara’s “Brave” kept boxing her to keep the distance, then as the round grew, Zamora backed off and Montes pressured her.
Throughout the first two rounds, Montes remembered instances where her head coach Luis Grasso warned her that Zamora will try and shoot for takedowns. She avoided the ground, due to a back injury she dealt with during her fight camp.
“I was very cautious on maintaining the degree of my back injury, and I figured if something happens during the fight, then it happens, but at least it will happen during the fight and not before,” Montes said. “When Claudia [Zamora] took me to the ground, I didn’t even think of staying there, because I wasn’t comfortable.”
“Brave” Montes was forced to abandon her wrestling due to the excruciating pain that she felt on her back. The 19-year-old bantamweight competed at Guadalajara, Jalisco’s junior wrestling regionals and won silver at nationals back in June.
“The first round felt like something new. At the beginning, I felt a bit scared and I felt many emotions,” Montes said. “In my mind, I knew I could do five-minute rounds oppose to amateur’s three-minute rounds, but during the fight it’s completely different.”
Montes anticipated Zamora wanting to establish her kicks early on, so she focused on countering her and not giving enough space to land those kicks, she added.
Confidence grew into the 19-year-old Mexican native, as she progressed in the second round.
“I tried to finish her but at the same time I was cautious, because if I were to lose my wind, perhaps she would’ve taken advantage of that,” Montes said. “I don’t know if that was right or wrong of me, but I conserved some of my energy and I try to do the smartest thing in the fight.”
There was a moment where Montes’ corner asked her to keep throwing punches late in the third round. She connected with her best shots, but Zamora was able to stay on her feet, she added.
After getting an emphatic victory over the 33-year-old Zamora, who was 6-0 in her amateur career, will now switch her focus on the recovery of back injury before her next MMA bout.