Lea Bivins may be making her professional MMA debut on Friday and doesn’t have the benefits of an amateur career, but she’s no stranger to the world she’s in.
Bivins has been exposed to combat sports her entire life, thanks in large part to her father, Anthony Bivins, who has competed in six professional MMA bouts and is now the head coach at her family-owned gym near Sacramento, California.
The 20-year-old started training at the age of 5 and has experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling and pankration since childhood. But now her focus is MMA, and she’s making her debut at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, opening ONE on the Prime Video 3 card. The Bivins (0-0) and Noelle Grandjean (3-0) opened the cards at an atomic weight (115 pounds).
“I was the first bout so I could put down the cards and show everyone my skills and how hard I’ve been working,” Bivins told MMA Junkie Radio. “I don’t have an amateur record. I decided not to go as an amateur, but to keep my body for the pros so my injury rate would be lower. I started playing a little younger so I would have years to be able to play professionally, I Think that’s an advantage for me.”
Bivens was supposed to make her debut earlier this year, but she flopped at the ONE Championship when her opponent was underweight and dropped out. So she wanted to get the first one out and another before the end of the calendar year.
After that, she didn’t mind working in Hawaii with ONE’s first family, sibling champions Angela Lee and Christian Lee.
But she said she prefers the home gym as her main training ground, rather than a big-name team that might get lost in the shuffle.
“This year I want to go 1-0 or 2-0. In the long run, I want to start climbing the atomic weight bandwagon,” Bivens said. “I have a lot of girls in my division – I think it’s one of their biggest divisions. So I want to start climbing the ranks.
“In the long run, I would also like to start training with Angela and Christian Lee in Hawaii, do more fight camps with them, or just go out there and train with them. It’s always great. I Just want to be a really great fighter and make a really big name for myself in the game.”
Check out the full interview with Bivins in the video above.