Who knew that a housemaid from Taguig would become one of the country’s most promising mixed martial artists?
In a span of three years, Jomary Torres transformed from a simple teenager to a prize fighter with a perfect record (4-0) and a 50 percent finish rate.
Speaking with her as she prepares for her aunt’s wedding in Zamboanga, one would not get the impression that this bridesmaid is a beast inside the cage.
The Filipina cage warrior introduced herself to the MMA circuit last April, when she showcased her skills against Thai superstar Rika “Tiny Doll” Ishige. Before her ONE Championship promotional debut in Macau, Torres was virtually unknown to fight fans.
During the second round, Torres decked Ishige with a counter overhand right, wiping the 28-year-old’s signature grin off her face. Torres then pressed forward with some ground and pound, and finished Ishige with a rear-naked choke. “I got lucky,” Torres remarked. “I was not expecting that to happen.”
A Fighter in the Making
Hailing from Zamboanga City, Torres – together with her brother – was raised by her grandmother alone. She never saw her mother and her father rarely came to visit. “[My grandmother] served as my mother and my father,” said Torres.
In her hometown, Torres went to school until she graduated from elementary. While her grandmother worked at the school canteen, she earned her lunch money from working at a farm. “I used to carry sacks of rice. And then we get paid depending on how many sack we were able to carry,” she recalled. Torres claimed that on average, she was getting paid 50 pesos for a day’s labor.
At 16, Torres decided to move to Manila to look for better opportunities. The then-teenage Torres spent the next three years working as a nanny for a family in Taguig.
While she was out on an errand, Torres met MMA fighter Ruel Catalan, who trains at a gym near the tutorial center where she was dropping off her employers’ kid.
“I saw the students training and I felt jealous,” Torres recalled when she first witnessed an MMA training session. Not long after, Catalan introduced Torres to his eldest brother, Rene, the patriarch of Catalan Fighting System Philippines.
Just after a year of training, Torres triumphantly made her professional prize fighting debut in URCC, besting Krisna Lindaga in a three-round, fifteen-minute battle. In 2017, Torres stringed together two victories over Ishige and Indonesian Nita Dea.
As an undefeated fighter, Torres possesses the confidence and swagger of an athlete who knows she is capable of winning. But the 22-year-old revealed that she still gets nervous before each of her bouts. She said that once the opening bell rings, however, “The fear goes away because my coach is at my corner yelling: ‘Push it! End it already!’”
To welcome 2018, Torres faced compatriot April Osenio in the preliminary card of ONE: Global Superheroes, at the Mall Of Asia Arena, in Pasay. Osenio, who was donning the all-red Team Lakay signature gear, was the obvious crowd favorite.
Going into the fight, Torres was once again seen as the underdog against the older, more experienced submission specialist.
A few seconds into the fight, Torres was able to take Osenio down almost effortlessly. Instinctively, the Team Lakay fighter attempted to lock in a guillotine choke but found no success.
Following a few solid ground and pound shots, Osenio caught Torres’ left arm with an armbar submission attempt but Torres picked her up and slammed her head against the floor. Torres then followed up by raining down hammer fists on Osenio’s unprotected head, prompting the referee to step in and stop the fight.
Once again, Torres was surprised with her performance. “I did not expect that I’d do that,” she claimed. “My [plan] was to remain on my feet and finish the fight with my stand-up,” added the Team Catalan representative.
According to Torres, she is more comfortable in doing battle against foreign fighters because squaring up with another Filipina is tough for her. “I’m not used to fighting Pinay vs Pinay because I see them as my fellow,” Torres explains.
The impressive showing of “The Zamboanginian Fighter” is enough to land her a date with ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, who currently holds an immaculate 8-win-0-loss card. But the rising star is not rushing. According to Torres, she wants to enjoy her ascendance while gaining more experience before demanding for a title shot.
“I just want to enjoy. I want to gain more experience. I’m not yet thinking about Angela Lee,” Torres commented. At 22, Torres has not yet reached her peek as an athlete. Indeed, she has many enjoyable years ahead of her. A gift from the MMA gods, to the Filipino fight fanatics.
Photos courtesy of Kenneth Raeniel Buella Frondoso.