Facing Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige, 28, of Thailand, Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad, 20, of the Philippines will make her ONE Championship debut on Dec. 9 at “ONE: Warriors of the World” in Bangkok, Thailand. The Filipino model-turned-MMA fighter is speaking out about the idea that martial arts is the alpha male’s sport.
“Martial arts is not only for men,” Trinidad said. “If you look at me, I am the living proof that women can do it. Whether you are a child, old, short, or tall, everyone is welcome in the martial arts community.”
“Most people do not understand mixed martial arts,” Trinidad explained further. “They think it has no rules and (it is) barbaric. I want to show them it is not like that. It is a real sport.”
“I am a small girl but I can fight in a world-class organization,” Trinidad said. She added that martial arts is not brutal and it is about technique.
“Recently, female fighters in Asia have been given several avenues to showcase their skills and what they are capable of in a world-class organization such as ONE Championship,” Trinidad stated. Aside from Ishige, she is excited to work with the likes of ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee, Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, Istela Nunes, Gina Iniong and Jenny Huang in growing the women’s martial arts scene in Asia.
“Angela Lee and others paved the way for other female fighters like me,” Trinidad said. “I am here to continue what they’ve started.”
Even if gender parity continues to be a serious hot-button discussion, Trinidad pointed out that martial arts is a great starting point to bring down the barrier. For her, seeing a woman succeed in a sport wholly dominated by men for the past 20 years is just an example of what is possible.
“I would like to continue this campaign for everyone who doesn’t understand the beauty of this sport,” Trinidad stressed. “Martial arts is not about fighting. Its real aim is to empower both men and women. We’ve already seen what women can do inside the cage. It’s a high time to unleash our full potential in this sport.”
Over the past decade, women’s martial arts rose from relative obscurity to noticeable heights that many could not fathom in such a short span of time. The once male-dominated sport has been infiltrated by women equipped with equal prowess to engage in high-testosterone action, at times even with more gusto than their male counterparts.
“It needs more opportunity,” Trinidad pointed out. “I think that there are young girls who are probably interested in getting into it, and we need support from men and women to encourage to let them go to the gym.”
After years of being told that they just were not good enough and that there were not enough girls to form a legitimate bracket, women are finally gracing the biggest stage of the sport. While the negative reputation of women’s participation in combat sports has declined inch-by-inch, Trinidad suggested that it still needs to be promoted for the stigma to totally diminish.