Undefeated Filipino mixed martial artist Jomary “The Zamboanganian Fighter” Torres, 22, is one of the rising stars of ONE Championship today. But MMA was not the first sport she was interested in when she was growing up.
While football is widely regarded as the most popular sport in the world, basketball has become woven into the cultural fabric of the Philippines, where the overall lack of height does not interfere with the love of the game. Filipinos have perennially been hooked on basketball as a love affair has bloomed between its people and the orange bouncing ball since it was first introduced by the Americans in the early 1900s.
Like many other Filipinos in the archipelago, Torres had a simple dream of becoming a basketball player when she was a young girl. She said, “I really wanted to play basketball.”
“Most men play basketball in our country,” Torres continued. “Since it is like our national sport, I was fascinated by it.”
As a young girl, Torres played in fiestas and for her school. She thought that she could eventually find a way to make a career out of her hobby.
“It’s natural for Filipinos to play basketball,” Torres shared. “You can see hoops everywhere. We play the game every single day.”
“Like many of my countrymen, I was good at it,” the undefeated Filipino MMA fighter added. “I thought of playing in the professional ranks and have the chance to earn money from it.”
However, circumstances in life would not allow Torres to pursue a professional career in basketball. Raised by her grandmother, the ONE Championship athlete recalled, “Instead of letting my grandmother work even more just to get me through college, I decided to stop going to school and find a job to help her out.”
From Zamboanga, Torres moved Taguig, Metro Manila to work as a nanny. In the capital region of the Philippines, she met Ruel Catalan, who frequently trained at a gym near the school where the child that she took care of was studying.
While waiting for the child to finish school, Torres swung by the gym to watch the action firsthand. For three years, she could not feed her competitive spirit and could only envy them from the sidelines.
In 2015, Torres was introduced to Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, 39. The latter is a multiple-time Wushu world champion, the head coach of Catalan Fighting System and a ONE Championship athlete since 2013.
“Coach Rene invited me and gave me an offer to consider,” Torres recalled. “I tried training, and I have been there ever since. I was a bit fat before. I only got fit here.”
In 2016, Torres made a successful professional MMA debut by defeating her fellow Filipino fighter Krisna Limbaga, 28, at “URCC: Dutdutan ’16.” In 2017, the Zamboanga native joined ONE Championship and defeated Rika “Tiny Doll” Ishige, 29, of Thailand and Nita Dea, 26, of Indonesia.
On January 26, 2018, Torres competed in ONE Championship for the third time. She knocked out another compatriot April Osenio, 24.
Now, Torres holds a professional MMA record of 4 wins and 0 loss. On September 22, 2018, she will put her undefeated record on the line as she faces Priscilla “Thathi” Hertati Lumban Gaol, 30, of Indonesia in the atomweight division at “ONE: Conquest of Heroes” in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Meanwhile, here is a clip from one of Torres’s ONE Championship bouts: