If we are talking about the future of the women’s divisions of MMA, look no further than the IMMAF.
Their youth divisions for athletes under 18 have provided a secure environment to grow and learn. It also gives them an opportunity to prove their skills against others and win championships.
In the coming weeks we are highlighting some of these athletes.
Lariah Gill won the gold at atomweight at the 2021 IMMAF Youth Championships in Bulgaria and is already looking like a prodigy in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Starting only four years ago in BJJ under Ricardo Guimaraes at Gracie Humaita Temecula, she started to win local titles in her weight class. This soon picked up to training other arts, including Muay Thai at Hernandez Kickboxing with Richard Hernandez, Judo at Socal Judo with Israel Hernandez, and Wrestling at Lions Den with Brandon Williamson.
Wombat Sports: What got you interested in competing in MMA?
Lariah Gill: My dad put me in Jiujitsu when I was 9, and after a little while I really enjoyed it and got into my other martial art.
Wombat: What do you enjoy about it?
Gill: What I enjoy about MMA is that there is always something new to learn.
W.S.: How have your friends and classmates reacted to you competing?
L.G.: Most of them don’t realize how big it is, they just think that it is an after school hobby. But, I do have 1 friend from school who supports me so much!!
W.S.: How about your family?
L.G.: My family has always been super supportive with my martial arts, and they do understand how big it is.
W.S.: Who do you look up to in fighting?
L.G.: The people that I mainly look up to in MMA are the UFC fighters, Makenzie Dern because her jiujitsu, and Rose Namajunas because of her striking.
W.S.: How do you feel about the future of females in MMA?
L.G.: I feel like the numbers of females in MMA are going up, and females in MMA will be very very successful. It seems like females are starting at a much younger age now, at least in the jiujitsu community.
W.S.: What comes naturally to you in MMA?
L.G.: What comes naturally to me is my jiujitsu because I compete in it so much.
W.S.: What have you found difficult?
L.G.: When I hurt my shoulder a few months back, it was very difficult to stop training, and take a rest. But, what was worse was getting back in because I felt like I lost some of my skill.
W.S.: How has it been to compete in the IMMAF?
L.G.: It is awesome to think that I competed in the world largest youth pankration event!! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete! I really like how professional everything was, and the IMMAF staff were very helpful and kind.
W.S.: What are your aspirations in fighting?
L.G.: I want to be the best in the world, and to get there I have to work hard and not give up!!
W.S.: Anyone you’d like to thank/add?
L.G.: Thank you to my Dad for taking me to practice everyday, and all of your support!! Thank you to my Coaches!! Thank you to my friends and family!!