Above photo by Ryan Gentry
New Zealand and Australia have been booming as of late in the mixed martial arts world over the past year. Robert Whittaker has set the standard for many years and is the current UFC middleweight champion. Israel Adesanya made his presence known and is the UFC interim middleweight champion. Dan Hooker is a rising prospect in the featherweight division. Now, Genah Fabian (who has trained along Adesanya and Hooker at City Kickboxing), is looking to become the next champion from down under when she competes in the second season of the Professional Fighters League (PFL) which kicks off on May 9.
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Mint catching up and having Styles and The Maori (but really) Samoan scientist out here in Phuket 😝👌🏾👊🏾🙌🏾Soaking up as much knowledge I could in the short time. Safe travels to the crue travelling to China for Israel's @stylebender next fight Saturday 👊🏾 #GetItDone #KiwiCrue #Phuket #AKA #Eugene #Styles
Fabian’s journey to the PFL cage has been a long one and it was never her plan to become a fighter when growing up. But she has always been an elite athlete. Growing up in New Zealand, she became a track and field star, competing in the 100- and 200-meter sprint races and the triple jump. Fabian said she competed in the Pan Pacific Games and Junior Olympics. After tearing her hamstring at 16, Fabian said she had trouble recovering mentally from the injury and she decided to stop competing at a professional level. Shortly afterwards, she moved to Australia and found competitive rowing which she did for a few years. It was after suffering multiple injuries in a car accident, that she found herself out of shape for the first time in her life and a friend recommended she travel to Thailand and give Muay Thai a try.
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#FBF #FlashBack on a #Friyay 😁 Fun facts; I was 16 in this pic 👶🏾shooting for my very first fitness cover as a junior NZ track and field champion. My home everyday for many years growing up was this very track, Mt.Smart stadium in Auckland training under the great man himself Les Mills.. I just returned from competing at the junior Olympics that year and a woman's fitness mag wanted to do a cover on me… My dream since 6yrs old was always to be an Olympian to represent NZ in track and field. When I was 20 after dedicating my entire life not really having much of a normal youth, I suffered a grade 3 hamstring tear my first real injury. Mentally if anything, it threw me off. I tried to come back and just wasn't the same top tier achieving champ I grew up only knowing to be.. Smh 🙄 if only I knew then what I knew now… 😌 Fast forward to now, I'm fighting pro for a living going for goals/dreams so big that no one or nothing will ever let me not be anything short than the champ I know I'm destined to be. My belief is; If you're sound minded and able bodied there's no excuse not to be all you can be 💯 Everything prior to this point the – good, bad, off the rails, world class competitor, crazy fuck ups, nomadic lifestyle, the sacrifices has been gearing me toward what's always been destined ☺️✨ I know these tings mayng!!! #BeenDestined #AlwaysBeenAnAthlete #LifeSoCrazy #Blessed #HighlyFavoured #WorldTraveler #BabyGen #TrackandField #Muaythai #MMA
“A few months prior I got into a really bad car accident, broke my ribs and broke my collarbone and got really unhealthy. Then a friend suggested I go there (Thailand) and start training and I just did, just to get back in shape. I was an athlete anyway and thought it would be something I would enjoy and it was really a suggestion to go check it out. Went for holiday, did it and that’s really how it all came to be.”
And it came to be quickly. Pretty quickly Fabian was competing professionally and doing well in Muay Thai. She earned a scholarship to train at AKA Muay Thai and was winning her fights. Clearly her athleticism followed her and made the climb from novice to professional with ease. However, with success, it became hard for Fabian to get fights. That’s when a close friend of hers and former UFC fighter Soa “The Hulk” Palelei offered an MMA fight.
“In 2017 in particular, I had three Muay Thai fights fell out on me. At the time, a friend of mine, Soa “The Hulk” Palelei who was in the UFC had a friend who was running a promotion and he said “look, if you want a fight, they have your weight class and I can book this fight for you, but it’s in MMA.” I didn’t do MMA, I didn’t do ground, I didn’t do anything at that point. But I was so desperate to fight and in need of money at that point at time, I was living in Thailand, (that) I agreed to it. I literally had an eight-week training camp. I fast tracked on the ground, learning defense, wrestling and what not. That’s how it kinda started.”
The now 27-year-old fighter won that fight and afterwards started to train in MMA, and started to fall in love with the sport even though it was the hardest and scariest thing she had ever done.
“Then I started training MMA, learning the arts and learning the sport. I had a lot more respect for it and actually really enjoyed it and it was the scariest thing and the hardest thing I’ve ever done, training wise. Just what’s involved and all the different arts that are involved in it.”
“It grew from there.”
Fabian only has one MMA fight listed online but says she has two and both are victories. In Muay Thai, she has a 9-2 overall record, most recently defeating Charmaine Tweet at Triumphant 3 in February of 2018 to win the World Muay Thai Council Middleweight Title. Fabian was able to finish Tweet by head kick knockout. Tweet is a veteran MMA fighter who has fought the likes of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Julia Budd and Megan Anderson (in MMA).
Before that fight, moved to Dublin, CA to train with Kirian Fitzgibbons at CSA Gym. She met Fitzgibbons through Muay Thai and kickboxing competitions and they kept in touch and Fitzgibbons invited her to train at the gym. At the time, Fabian was feeling lost in Asia and she needed a new home.
“I was in Thailand at the time, where the scene wasn’t growing and I was basically getting lost in Asia.”
“Where women’s fighting was and where it was going at the time. It wasn’t getting enough exposure in Asia at that point. I needed to get in California, I needed to really advance. He had said it wasn’t going to be easy, you’re going start again for a minute and getting better and get in front of the right people.”
“Ray reached out to me, Ray Sefo, their CEO. We’re both from New Zealand, and both coming from the same gym lineage back home. He’s keeping his eye on young talent coming through and we’ve kept in touch. He told me this is what he’s doing, this promotion and this tournament coming up and he said he’d love for me to be a part of it.”
Her first fight for the PFL will be on May 9, live on ESPN Plus against Bobbi Jo Dalziel. Almost all of the other competitors have more MMA experience than Fabian, but that doesn’t bother her at all.
“I very much have a lot of experience and skills and I believe a whole nother level of skill and specialty that I’ll be bringing with me in there. So no, I’m not worried, everyone has got more experience than me, even in my Muay Thai fights. I took bigger fights with much more experienced fighters than me every single time, because that was just the journey I had to take. I’m not worried about it, what can I do about experience? I can’t out experience anyone before me. It just is what it is.”
Her opponent, Dalziel, has a 4-0 record in MMA with two victories coming by finish. She is a striker like Fabian and Fabian expects a striking battle that she will win.
“She’s tall like me as well, so we’ll both be very long coming in, that I do know. She’s a southpaw like myself, so we’ll both be coming in with that. We’re both stylistically strikers, so it’ll be really who can negate each other’s strength’s the most and capitalize and who can finish on top.”
“I’m ready for anything and I mean that.”
I’ll find my openings and I believe that…I confident I’ll either a knockout or a finish. If it does go three rounds, I’m down for that as well.”
One of the many reasons Fabian is excited to be a part of the PFL is because of the impact they are having on women’s MMA.
“This opportunity no doubt is ground breaking and game changing.”
“The fact that I get to be a part of something that is growing women’s fighting and women’s mixed martial arts, to try and catch up one day I believe, one day will be caught up to the men. It’s just the men have been around longer; it is more developed…But this is a great fit and the fact that PFL are doing it (the division) on the world stage and to do it like they are doing it with the million dollar tournament, it’s huge and it’s an honor to be a part of.”
PFL 1 takes place at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY on May 9 and can be viewed on ESPN Plus.