Category Archives: future stars wmma

Future Stars – Gianna Cilenti

Gianna Cilenti 01Nine year old Gianna “BamBam” Cilenti is preparing early for her future career as a MMA fighter.

The New York native trains grappling and kickboxing at Nanuet Tiger Schulman School and BJJ at Renzo Gracie’s Academy in new Jersey. Gianna also studied traditional karate at Thomas Clifford Martial Arts.

Cilenti has won several NAGA and grappling titles, having yet to taste defeat. She also has a 4-2 record in amateur kickboxing.


Wombat Sports: What got you interested in combat sports?

Gianna Cilenti: When I was 6 years old, I went to my friend’s karate birthday party and loved it! At that time I was in gymnastics and I cried every day because I wanted my mom to bring me back to the karate place. There is nothing else I wanted to do.

Wombat: What do you enjoy about it?

Cilenti: I love everything about it, I especially love competing. It keeps me fit and it is so much fun. I like challenging myself every time I get on the mat and every time I am scheduled for a fight. I try to compete once a month.

W.S.: How has your friends and classmates reacted to it?

G.C.: My friends are really into what I do and a lot of them will come watch me fight. Having my friends interested in what I do helps me challenge myself more because I want them to keep them interested and show them that not everything is easy and if you challenge yourself you can do anything.

W.S.: How about your family?

G.C.: My family are my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t be able to do this without my mom, dad and sister. When I compete I can always hear my family and friends cheering me on and it makes me work harder. There are times I am tired and my family encourages me to go train and work hard. I love when they encourage me because I perform my best. My family even turned our family room into a training place for me. My Deshi Jackie gave me mats and now I get to train whenever I want.

W.S.: Who do you look up to in fighting?

G.C.: The people I look up to most are my parents and my sister they are the best role models. Ronda Rousey is my idol. There are a lot of fighters and trainers I look up to; Kyoshi Clifford, Professors Massaro, Joshu Trizano, Maureen Shea, Jennie Nedell, Joshu Kendall, Chris Weidman, Eddie “Truck” Gordon and “Iron” Mike Fischetti.

W.S.: How do you feel about the future of females fighting?

G.C.: I hope that more girls get into fighting. Not every sport has to be for boys because girls are tough to. Ronda Rousey made it possible for me to have a chance to be in the UFC and I hope that when I become a world champion other little girls will want to fight and become a champ. At each competition I notice more and more girls competing. It’s great because at most Events the girls have their own division. I hope the girls division keeps growing.

Gianna Cilenti 02W.S.: What comes naturally to you in fighting? What have you found difficulty?

G.C.: Everything about combat sports comes naturally. I feel like I belong on the mat, the mat is part of me. My life will always be about training hard and fighting. I couldn’t imagine not participating in combat sports, it’s in my blood.

The hardest part for me is when I am competing and I get tired, I feel like I might not win, then I hear my sister rooting me on and I push hard.

W.S.: What are your aspirations in fighting?

G.C.: I want to be and will be a world champion. I want to get in the cage for the UFC and win that Belt. I want to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics and represent my Country. I know I can do it. I have so many people supporting me. I want other girls to look up to me someday and not be afraid of combat sports. I will be the Princess of the Cage.

W.S.: Anything you want to add/thank?

G.C.: I want to thank my mom for always taking me to training, taking me to fights and being my training partner when I want to practice my arm bar. My Dad who lets me choke him out. My sister for always being there for me. I also want to thank all my trainers and fighter friends who take time to train me, encourage me and support me. I have a great team.

Future Stars – Monique Sciberras

Wombat Sports is continuing its efforts to profile some of those fighters under the age of 18 that will be the future of combat sports; be it MMA, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

If you have a fighter under 18 you want to be featured comment below.

You can read all the “Future Stars” we have featured so far here.


monique 0114 year old Monique Sciberras has already done what many female fighters twice her age can only dream about, train and compete in Thailand.

The Australian teenager holds junior world titles and has fought on the annual Kings Cup Muay Thai card in 2009 at the age of nine.

The remarkable thing is that Sciberras has done all this not just for fun and the challenge, but to help her autism.

Austism is a Neurodevelopmental disorder that effects how the brain works, and hinders social development. Studies have shown sports help treat autism. In martial arts in particular, the elements of predictability, structure, and the challenges of physical interaction with other people help social skills and adapting to situations.

We got a chance to talk to Sciberras about her experiences in Muay Thai and her goals as she grows as a fighter.


Wombat Sports: What got you interested in getting involved in combat sports?

Monique Sciberras: My parents put me into combat sports because of my Autism. They could not afford for me to play tennis, so my father trained me in the art of Muay Thai since I can remember. Doctors told them I had no future, and would never go to a normal school, hold a normal job, or even speak properly. My parents couldn’t accept this.

Wombat: How has it helped with your autism?

Sciberras: It has done everything for me. In 2009, I fought on the Kings Cup in Bangkok and a week later, I had a prize fight; five 3 minute rounds. I won in the second round by TKO. I have fought every year since in Thailand basically have a lot more confidence in life.

monique 03W.S.: What do you enjoy about it?

M.S.: I love meeting all the people that if I hadn’t trained in Muay Thai I would not have met like. I love training with Jeff Fenech on my hands movement.

W.S.: How have your friends and classmates reacted to it?

M.S.: My friends love to watch the fights and my classmate is my mum because she is my teacher. I do home schooling and most of my friends are from church. Everyone has been supportive.

W.S.: What comes naturally to you in fighting?

M.S.: When I enter the ring its my sand pit. I feel at home

W.S.: What have you found difficult?

M.S.: The hard part is making the weight. My opponents have the same skill level, so there is no easy fight. It’s a case of who wants it more. Prize fights are more serious, and I’d say people that do the sport in Thailand need to win.

monique 02W.S.: What was it like to fight in Thailand?

M.S.: I have had many fights in Thailand and you find out who you fight that day. It’s not a case of who you want to fight, and sometimes, they are much larger. When you have traveled so far, how can you say no?

W.S.: Who do you look up to in fighting?

M.S.: Cris Cyborg. I hope to take the path of Gina Carano.

W.S.: How do you feel about the future of females in fighting sports?

M.S.: I think everyone is sick of seeing men fight and the future will be with females. It’s going to be big and I plan on being there.

W.S.: What are your aspirations in fighting?

M.S.: I would love to fight on Master Toddys Show in Muaythai, have a boxing title fight, and make my fight home in Las Vegas.

W.S.: Anyone you’d like to thank/add?

M.S.: I’d like to thank Jeff Fenech for giving me his time, Master Toddy for always giving me a warm welcome, and you for giving me a chance to share my story