GiveMeSport had the opportunity to speak to Lea Bivins ahead of her debut for ONE Championship on the ONE 159 fight card in July.
Bivins recently signed for the company as part of their Atomweight division, and at 19 years old she is considered a phenom and a potential megastar in the future.
The former Pankration and amateur wrestling star will be taking on Zeba Bano for her debut, a fighter with a strong MMA resume in her own right.
Here is what Lea Bivins had to say ahead of her debut contest for ONE FC at ONE Championship 159 on July Friday 22nd July.
Lea Bivins on ONE Championship Debut
GMS – Although this upcoming bout against Zeba Bano is your first pro MMA bout you have an impressive amateur combat sports career. How have you accomplished so much at only 19!?
Lea Bivins – Actually, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles online about my amateur career being 3-0! I actually haven’t fought amateur MMA I went straight to the pros. But I did fight in the IMMAF World Championships Pankration and I did go 3-0, so I think there was a little bit of confusion there!
GMS – Does it concern you that you’re facing someone (Zeba Bano) with slightly more experience in the ONE promotion in terms of pre-fight prep, interviews etc?
Lea Bivins – Honestly it doesn’t concern me too much. I have a really good camp, coaches and teammates. We’ve all been watching footage, going over the footage of her last bout at ONE FC. I like to use my nerves for excitement and everything towards the fight…with my wrestling background, it’s just another day and another competition for me.
GMS – Speaking of your wrestling background, you’ve got a very strong background in the amateurs there and you’re a purple belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, do you feel that stylistically you match well with your opponent heading into the bout?
Lea Bivins – I think it’s a really good fight stylistically. The matchmakers definitely knew what they were doing! She has really good striking, she’s really strong and her ground game looks really good as well. So I think it’ll be a really good fight and everybody should be excited to watch it!
GMS – I believe Zeba’s first pro fight we won via submission, but she’s won via TKO since then apart from her lone loss in ONE. Are you weary of her striking strengths? Not to give the game plan away, but is the ground game something you’ll be leaning on in the fight?
Lea Bivins – I’m focusing on all aspects (of MMA) in my fight camp, I’m not leaving one or the other out. I have three to four practices a day in every main style of MMA just to be prepared. I would say that I’m focusing a lot on cardio and explosion, that type of thing. Because of the five-minute rounds that we will be going into, I just want to be in the best shape cardio-wise that I can be.
Training with Angela Lee
GMS – Speaking of your training, what has it been like training with the famous Lee family? Especially ONE Championship Atomweight Champion Angela Lee?
Lea Bivins – Honestly it’s amazing. Not a lot of people can say that they’ve been welcomed over there (to Hawaii) to train you know? They’re an amazing family, they’re a martial arts family just like my family.
Beyond the martial arts and fighting they’re all just genuinely great people. With Angela, when I went over there she was pregnant at the time and then recently at our Pankration National I got to see her and her daughter so that was even a great experience to see them.
Going over there was such an amazing experience. Angela really pushes the pace, they all really push the pace and it’s a fantastic camp!
GMS – With you joining ONE as an Atomweight fighter, was it in the back of your mind that you could be standing in the cage at some point with Angela?
Lea Bivins – I got to watch Angela fighting growing up, watching her fights and she is a great inspiration for my own martial arts journey. When I got signed by ONE I was just so happy to be signed and obviously, the Lees are like family to us, I have a lot of love and respect for them. I’m just here to do my job.
GMS – That was a really good diplomatic answer!
Lea Bivins – Thank you! [laughs]
History in Combat Sports
GMS – This is the biggest combat sports platform you’ve ever been on, when did you first start combat sports?
Lea Bivins – I first started when I was five but I didn’t start competing seriously until I was 10. So I actually turn 20 a few days after the ONE 159 card so I’ll of been in combat sports for ten years then.
GMS – I like that you said you didn’t get serious until you were ten years old, it’s incredible to think that a ten-year-old is taking combat sports so seriously!
Lea Bivins – [laughs] Anybody can start at any time! I know sixty-year-olds who come to our gym and love it for the workout and the exercise!
GMS – Thank you so much for your time and good luck with your fight at ONE 159 on July Friday 22nd July.
Lea Bivins – Thank you!
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