Jessica Mouneimne gets her hand raised in victory following her bout with Heike Herselman at African Pride Fighting Championship. Photo: Lauren Hammond
Jessica Mouneimne gets her hand raised in victory following her bout with Heike Herselman at African Pride Fighting Championship. Photo: Lauren Hammond

Mixed martial artist Jessica found her real motivation, once again

By Julian Kiewitz Time of article published Oct 22, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Pride Fighting Academy mixed martial artist, Jessica Mouneimne quickly found out what really matters to her soul after not making it into the top 32 of the Biogen Face of Fitness competition.

“Lockdown got to me, I felt a little out of shape and lacked motivation to train,” says the 2-0 amateur athlete/PFA co-owner.

“I needed a challenge. So I entered the Face of Fitness competition which was basically a fitness brand ambassador competition. It was really strange for me to put myself out there in a beauty pageant type of setup, but it was the carrot I needed to whip my butt into shape at that time.

“I didn't get through to the top thirty, but I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be,” she says.

Shortly after hearing the news of her unsuccessful application for the fitness model competition, Jessica got one of the best calls a fighter could get - receiving the news that the Professional Fighting Championship wanted her in their first event back as the coronavirus-enforced lockdown easing allowed for combat sport to start running once again.

“That was ultimately the biggest carrot and motivation that I needed to start training.”

Come this weekend, Jessica will put her unblemished record on the line against Gauteng’s Bianca Stander for the PFC Strawweight title.

“I am super excited and really blessed to have this opportunity. The last time I fought was exactly a year ago at PFC14 (she beat Audrey Bekker).

“I was supposed to fight Bianca in March before we went into lockdown. I know nothing about her which has made it interesting while looking for tape on her of which I could not find anything.”

According to some reliable sources, Bianca - fighting out of the infamous Junkyard MMA - is a super aggressive and tough go-forward fighter.

And this is the kind of challenge that the calculating Jessica relishes.

“I am always ready for someone aggressive and keen to fight instead of a runner. I have been training hard for this, she has been on my radar since the beginning of the year.

“The title does not mean too much for me in terms of notoriety, I am more excited about getting back in the cage and to get that win … of course it’s always nice fighting for a PFC title and it will be a nice trophy to add to the gym wall when I do win it,” says Jessica.

The event - starting in the afternoon - will take place at the Portuguese Club in Milnerton.

No fans will be allowed at the venue as per safety regulations and strict protocol will be followed in maintaining the safety of all in the midst of a pandemic.

There will be thorough clean-ups and sanitizing of the ring/cage in between each boxing and mma fight, therefore there will be no live feed or streaming in the spirit of convenience for fight fans.

Jessica Mouneimne and Heike Herselman moments before they clash at African Pride Fighting Championship. Photo: Riveting Productions

A full-on production - which can be found on the PFC Promotions Facebook page - will be put together for fans to watch soon after the show.

“Fighting in front of no crowd, it’s going to be really weird,” says Jessica.

“The crowd really gets me going and makes me feel alive knowing that I have support in the audience. Knowing that the result won't be live straight away, or the fact that I can’t put any of my footage out immediately is disheartening because you want to share your achievements with your audience.

“But having said that, it makes this fight more personal, it’s only going to be myself and my coach (my husband, Mike) there, so it’s going to be really interesting and strange, it brings its own set of challenges, but being a fighter is all about overcoming obstacles and pushing your will to overcome whatever those obstacles are, so this is just another challenge I'm excited to embrace.”

Coming from a marketing background, Jessica highlighted the importance of fighters being open-minded and smart about getting their names (brands) out there. And lockdown was a good example of how quickly your one egg basket can break in a heartbeat.

Since lockdown placed events on hold - along with the closure of gyms - many fighters and gym owners/trainers have suffered.

It was in this time that fighters started embarking on various ventures to find new sources of income - many Cape Town-based fighters have even put their hand up for the new Fight to Fame reality show which will see combat athletes compete in stunt work and assessments in hopes of earning a Hollywood production contract as an action hero.

“Any platform that is going to provide exposure for fighters, brands or gyms is good exposure. We have to think of ourselves as brands and influencers in order to bring in extra income, you have to look at other ways to collaborate and grow your audience. As a trainer, if you think that you are only going to make or do business through classes, or one-on-one training, you are very short-sighted, similarly as a fighter.

“The Biogen Face of Fitness competition was really useful from an online brand-building perspective as it allowed me to grow my online audience and allowed me to sell online training which was needed to stay afloat. So it served its time and place,” says the gym owner who bore the brunt of the lockdown.

“Just like other gyms, we were hit hard in lockdown, we lost about 50 percent of our membership but it was due to people being retrenched, losing their jobs, losing everything that they had, it wasn't like they wanted to save money where they could, and we can attest that and maintaining 50 percent of our membership to the relationship within the gym and our ability to still provide a service during lockdown despite physical training not happening,” concludes Jessica.

There will be an array of great fights on show this weekend including that of Lewis Mataya vs Emmanuel Sita for the Lightweight title, Andrew Bezuidenhout vs the exciting and national Bantamweight champion, Terence Balelo, as well as a mouth-watering boxing bout between hot Fighterz Inc. prospect Ne Kamenga Mapumba and Tshamuna Fouga, to name a few.

Stay tuned to the PFC Promotions Facebook page for more details.

@juliankiewietz

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