Team Grasso’s Abigail Montes faces off against Miami’s Claudia Zamora, as both will make their MMA professional debut at Combate Americas: Guadalajara, Montes embraces the opportunity to begin her professional career in her hometown.
“I feel happy that the fight is in Guadalajara to represent Mexico, especially here in where I grew up,” Montes said in Spanish. “I will have the full support of my family and friends at the fight.”
Montes’ two brothers quickly found their passion in MMA, but she initially didn’t want any part of it.
“I never practiced martial arts and I thought the sport of MMA was a little bit more for men. I would hear about it and watch it on television, and I saw that men were promoted more than women,” Montes said. “I told myself, ‘oh.. well I’m a woman.’ It didn’t catch my attention because of that, and besides I thought my psyche would not be how I would want it to be.”
The grandparents of the 19-year-old fighter, had the idea that fighting is meant for men. When she would come home, they would tell her ‘your body is going to look like a man’s body’ or ‘during a fight something might happen to you, just do something else.’
“There were a lot of comments that hurt me a little bit, because this is something that I like to do. So, why would they tell me those things in that way,” Montes said. “However, through time I learned that you can’t convince everybody in what you believe, even if it’s your own family. I would just listen to them and respect their views.”
Luis Grasso, head instructor at Lobo MMA, tried convincing Montes to join his gym, after noticing her massive physique – powerful lower body strength. She would tell him yes about training, but she wouldn’t show up, until her mother Patricia encouraged her to try it out for self-defense.
The Mexican bantamweight lived in a very dangerous area in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Many robberies would occur near her neighborhood.
“My mother would always be on the road, so I was alone for the most part,” Montes said. “She would tell me that I needed to learn how to defend myself in case of any scenario.”
Since her first day of training with Grasso, she didn’t miss a single day and It became a lifestyle for her. MMA guided Montes’ life into a path of discipline.
“Growing up in Guadalajara, I was like many teenagers wanting to party, drink with friends and experiment with my drugs. It was a radical change and I feel like this sport saved me,” she said. “If I would’ve never found this sport, I wouldn’t know what I would be doing with my life.”
Montes became ambitious about pursuing her professional fighting career, as she observes each day training alongside with UFC’s Alexa Grasso and Bellator’s Alejandra Lara, feeling encouraged by their accomplishments.
The Mexican bantamweight has been training at Lobo MMA for almost four years. She competed in five amateur kickboxing matches, one Muay Thai, one MMA fight and she also competed in two junior Olympic wrestling tournaments in Jalisco under Grasso.
The 33-year-old Zamora has a 5-0 amateur record, winning her last bout against Vicky Fernandez via unanimous decision at Premier Fight League 21.
“We haven’t seen much of Claudia [Zamora], her fights are very short. We don’t know what she’s going to do, so we are preparing all three phases: striking, wrestling and ju-jitsu,” Grasso said in Spanish. “The most dangerous fighters are the ones with more experience.”
The undercard for Combate Americas: Guadalajara begins at 9 p.m. ET, and the main card will be broadcast on Univision at 12 a.m. ET.