Igorot mixed martial artist Gina “Conviction” Iniong and her husband Richard Araos are currently expecting their first baby. The news was made public one day after her 31st birthday.
A decade ago, Araos was in the crowd while Iniong was competing in a Muay Thai contest in Baguio City, Philippines. That was how they met.
Training out of Team Lakay in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, Iniong competes in the women’s atomweight division of ONE Championship and currently ranks as the fifth contender in the division. As an MMA fighter, she has been competing professionally since 2010.
Among Iniong’s earliest opponents were Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey of the United States and “Fury” Yan Xiaonan of China, who have been competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship since 2015 and 2017, respectively. Yan was Iniong’s first ever non-Filipino opponent.
Iniong is the first ever Filipina MMA fighter to compete and win in an international professional MMA bout. Here are 31 things about the Igorot MMA fighter to celebrate her 31st birthday and her motherhood:
- She was born on June 5, 1989.
- Her birth surname is Pasigon but she uses the first name of her paternal grandfather Iniong following her father, who switched names when he was growing up.
- She grew up in Baguio City, Philippines with six sisters and three brothers.
- Their parents used to sell plants and keychains.
- She started training in boxing when she was in high school.
- When she was about to graduate from high school, her boxing coach was replaced by Team Lakay founder and head coach Mark “The Machine” Sangiao.
- She joined Team Lakay to avail of the team’s wushu scholarships to help finance her college education.
- She earned the Team Lakay’s wushu scholarship by winning gold in a national wushu competition in the Philippines.
- She is a six-time Philippine Wushu Champion.
- She wanted to become a police officer like many of her relatives.
- She has a bachelor’s degree in criminology.
- Initially, her parents did not like the idea of her competing in MMA but they eventually became her biggest supporters.
- When she made her successful professional MMA debut at “URCC Baguio 2: Tribal Wars” on February 19, 2010 in Baguio City, she submitted her Filipina opponent Sonrex Patanao via rear-naked choke.
- While she lost to Yan via unanimous decision at “Martial Combat 6” in Singapore on July 15, 2010, it made her the first Filipina MMA fighter to compete in a professional bout in the international level.
- On November 9, 2013, she became the first Filipina MMA fighter to win an international professional MMA bout by knocking out Nathalie “Mystique” Heidel of France at “Pacific Xtreme Combat 41” in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- On March 29, 2014, she defeated Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi of Japan via split decision at “Pacific Xtreme Combat 43” in Pasig City.
- On November 15, 2014, Casey submitted her via rear-naked choke at “Pacific Xtreme Combat 46” in Pasig City.
- On January 16, 2016, she submitted Vanessa “Chiquitina” Rico Fernandez of Spain via Achilles lock at “Pacific Xtreme Combat 51” in Paranaque City, Metro Manila.
- On November 10, 2017, she made her ONE Championship debut at “ONE: Kings of Destiny” in Pasay City, Metro Manila where she defeated her Australian-Filipino opponent Natalie “The Kilapino” Gonzales Hills via unanimous decision.
- “ONE: Kings of Destiny” made her the third female Team Lakay fighter to make a ONE Championship debut, following Jujeath “Bad Girl” Nagaowa in 2014 and April Osenio in 2015.
- On November 10, 2017, she knocked out Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol of Indonesia at “ONE: Legends of the World” in Pasay City.
- On November 24, 2017, she lost via unanimous decision to Yamaguchi in their rematch at “ONE: Immortal Pursuit” in Singapore.
- On April 20, 2018, she defeated Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang of Taiwan via unanimous decision at “ONE: Heroes of Honor” in Pasay City.
- On July 7, 2018, she lost via unanimous decision at “ONE: Battle for the Heavens” in China to Istela Nunes of Brazil, who joined the UFC in 2019 but was given a two-year suspension after testing positive for multiple steroid metabolites.
- On February 16, 2019, she defeated Jihin “Shadowcat” Radzuan via split decision at “ONE: Clash of Legends” in Thailand.
- Before fighting Radzuan, she got the news that her mother was seriously ill with stage 5 chronic kidney disease.
- In October 2019, she and Araos got married in Baguio City.
- She won the gold medal in kickboxing’s women’s -55kg light kick category in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games by defeating La Thi Nga of Vietnam on December 8, 2019 and Mingkhwan Apichaya of Thailand on December 10, 2019 both in Pasay City.
- On January 31, 2020, she defeated Asha “The Knockout Queen” Roka of India via unanimous decision at “ONE: Fire and Fury” in Pasay City.
- “ONE: Fire and Fury” marked the first time her father watched her MMA fight in person.
- It is her dream to become the first ever Filipina MMA world champion.