Filed under: News, UFC
DETROIT – UFC women’s strawweight Angela Magana has had a crazy journey on the way to her third UFC appearance.
When she fights Amanda Cooper at UFC 218, the veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter 20” will fight with a renewed vigor after getting treatment for a blood disease. But she’ll also carry her adopted home on her back, she said, after riding out Hurricane Maria, one of the worst natural disasters in history.
“She’s going to feel what I’ve been through with my fighting,” Magana (11-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC), who faces Cooper (2-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) on the UFC Fight Pass-streamed opener of Saturday’s fight card at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, told MMAjunkie.
In September 2016, Magana asked her Twitter followers for suggestions on a vacation. It was 14 months after a blowout loss to Michelle Waterson that had many fans writing her off. She settled on Puerto Rico, thinking it was tropical and didn’t require a visa. She fell in love with the island and its boxing roots, and decided to stay.
This past Tuesday, one week before she departed for Michigan, electricity finally came back on in Magana’s home. Much of the island had remained in blackness more than two months after the Category 5 hurricane. Critical infrastructure was completely wiped out, and help was slow to arrive.
The official estimate of dead from the hurricane is 58 people, but other reports claim the number is much higher, possibly as high as 1,095.
“I’ve been in the middle of gunfights over places to stay,” Magana said. “People burying their loved ones in their front yard because the hospitals don’t have refrigeration to keep the bodies. The hospitals being shut down because the bodies are rotting.
“I would get hungry, and I would cry, because to get food was such an assache. To get to the grocery store, you have to wait in lines. To get gas, it was an eight-hour line. Then there were gas rations. When you go to get water, you only get one gallon day. You need a gallon a day just for yourself for training, just because it’s so hot there.”
Magana could have left the island when the severity of the storm became apparent, but she said she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving when things got tough. She hunkered down in her house as the storm made landfall and fought the wind and flooding that soon arrived.
After the storm subsided, she and her training partners began to rebuild. Encouraged by the island’s Olympic boxing and wrestling teams, they joined training sessions set up outside on mats. To keep down water intake and beat the heat, they worked early in the mornings.
“We made it work,” she said. “Do soldiers get ready for war in air conditioning and sleeping in a nice bed? Those uncivilized conditions, I believe, made me more ready for war in the end.”
It didn’t hurt that Magana physically felt better than ever. Her training regimen over the past year had led to the discovery of a blood disease, which she said lead to heart palpitations and an enlarged left ventricle. With treatment, she felt like a new athlete.
“I have all this knowledge and life experience, and I get back to go back to high school … with his new body,” she said.
Now, she plans to use her newfound energy and pent-up emotion from the hurricane to beat Cooper, a runner-up on “The Ultimate Fighter 23.” She also plans to donate 10 percent of her purse to relief efforts, which she’s raised money for on Twitter since the disaster struck.
“It’s a very odd thing to have to live through,” Magana said. “Things are getting better slowly, but a lot of it has to do with the political crap that’s going on. Things could have been done a lot faster and a lot sooner. It’s just sad that the president and other people would rather focus on other things rather than human life.”