Ann ‘Athena’ Osman redefines what it means to punch like a girl

We’re interviewing…

Ann ‘Athena’ Osman

AN INSPIRATION: First Malaysian female MMA fighter Ann 'Athena' Osman.

AN INSPIRATION: First Malaysian female MMA fighter Ann ‘Athena’ Osman.

Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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The guys in Kuching definitely went all out during the second edition of the Malaysian Invasion Mixed Martial Arts (Mimma) tryouts, giving their all punching, grappling, boxing and wrestling each other in the octagon. With their tall, buff and muscular builds it was difficult not to feel intimidated by these guys.

With my summer dress and her baby pink cardigan, fellow Seedling Patricia and I looked completely out of place while we wandered around the octagon set up in tHe Spring for the first day of tryouts on March 29.

Surrounded by tall and muscular male fighters, I wondered how many female fighters were involved in MMA since it is commonly considered a male sport.

But when Ann ‘Athena’ Osman, the first Malaysian female MMA fighter walked over to us, she gave off an aura that defined ‘girl power’ or ‘women empowerment’. Although surrounded by male fighters, Ann looked completely at ease and oozed confidence.

With her winning smile, twinkling eyes and confident stride, one could not help but feel admiration and a sense of pride that Ann had what it took to be in a male-dominated sport.

Hailing from Sabah, the 27-year-old half-Dusun woman has solid training in Muay Thai, trained by her coach, AJ ‘Pyro’ Lias Mansor.

As the first female Malaysian pro fighter, Ann competed in ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) on October 18 last year against Singaporean Sherilyn Lim. Despite losing to Sherilyn (0-1) in her first professional match, Ann is still keen to prove her fighting chops as a strong, fit, confident female competing in such a high-level event.

During the tryouts for the second edition of MIMMA , we managed to steal some time to talk to Ann and her experience as a female MMA fighter.

Q: Do you have a signature move?

No, not really. Right now I am looking at perfecting my technique and still finding what exactly move that I like because basically I’m comfortable striking, I’m comfortable grappling, I’m comfortable wrestling but I think most people liked to see me do was to do my take down.

Q: Are there any different rules between female and male bouts in the ring?

No, it’s all standard rules so there are no different for both male and female fighters.

Q: What fighters do you look up to and why?

I have a lot of names to list, but one of them is my coach. He has taught me a lot and has trained me for the MMA and he has also done a lot for the team. He is also the founder of Borneo Tribal Squad which is the team I am currently under.

Besides that, a female fighter that I also look up to was Gina Carano which was one of the first female fighters because I think I could relate to her. Like her, I trained Muay Thai first before transcending to MMA. I started training for Muay Thai for a few weeks before I started training for MMA. It was definitely different in the sense that it mixes a lot of martial art disciplines.

Q: Which fighter would you like to compete against?

For now I can humbly say I am a rookie. I am a pro fighter but I have just started making my professional debut last October. But it would be great to be up against big Asian female fighter such as Mei Yamaguchi and Jessica Aguilar but I hope I can reach up to that level to compete with them because it would be an honour. But as of now, I am just looking at building my record and my image.

Q: Currently you are in the strawweight category, are you looking to go up into the flyweight category?

No, I am more comfortable in the strawweight category.

Q: What are the worst injuries you have gotten in MMA so far?

So far I haven’t had any major damage or injury. Being punched in the face is painful but I’m conditioned for that and I have been trained for years, I mean for almost three years right now so I’m pretty much used to it. We sometimes get injured during training so I am mentally and physically conditioned for it.

Q: Do you have any message for young girls out there who are interested in joining MMA?

Okay, number one would be if you have a dream, go for it. If you have the passion keep the passion and the drive. If you want something, you got earn it, put in the hardwork, put in the commitment and persevere.

Second of all, for all the girls who want to train MMA, I would say go for it. It has helped me a lot not only physically but mentally. I feel that I am a much better person in terms of character building, I’ve toughened up and boosted up my self confidence, it taught me a lot in terms of discipline. Being an MMA fighter is not as easy as people see. It’s not about glitz and glamour at all. It’s about putting in hard work, discipline and if you want to compete then go ahead because I would love to see more female fighter out there.


Come join us!: Jason Lo (second left) presenting a souvenir with Ann and Sean Wong (right).

Come join us!: Jason Lo (second left) presenting a souvenir with Ann and Sean Wong (right).

Feeling inspired and wish to know more about Ann Osman, do check out her facebook page at:

To know more about MIMMA, feel free to visit their website at: or at

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