It’s usually pretty hard for most kids to picture their parents as kids. It’s also really hard for most students to realize that their teachers have lives outside of school. Unless your teacher happens to be a UFC fighter, in which case it’s probably pretty hard to forget.
Marion Reneau has been a physical education teacher for years, as well as an MMA fighter. She is also a mother and fiancee. She is rather busy, to say the least. Despite all of the demands on her time, Reneau still finds time to interact with her fans on Twitter and Facebook and also to form strong opinions on the important issues of the day.
“Too many people can’t handle other people’s opinions,” Reneau told Combat Press. “Even when it’s not directly towards them, they can’t realize that opinions are opinions. I just want to tell all of them to shut the F up. My dad would always tell me my mouth was going to get my butt in trouble. And I tell my students, ‘You’re going to love me or love to hate me — there is no gray area with me.’ [laughs] ‘If you like me, great, but I have enough friends so if not, no skin.’ You could pretty much hear the shrug.”
“The Belizean Bruiser” has always loved sport and competition. However, she has only been fighting professionally since 2010. After her first fight, a win, she took almost two years off. So, really, she has only been competing for about four years. And to be competing in the UFC at 39 years of age with the best of the best? Well, it’s a dream come true.
“I get to fight for the UFC in Ireland,” said Reneau. “The plane ride is actually not as long as the one to Brazil, so that’s good. It’s 10 hours. That’s not going to interfere with my cut. I shouldn’t have any issues because I don’t like to wait till the last minute. Some prefer to do the big cut at the end, but not me.
“I will definitely be doing some sightseeing. I need a castle. I want to go in one, walk in a castle, and imagine myself in the little-girl fairy tale. You know, the one: to marry and live in a castle happily ever after. The Fairy Tale. But I will settle for viewing a castle with my love and fiancé, Mando. I am so excited that he gets to come with me.
“He is my love and training partner, and he knows when to be which one. Armando and my coach will be joining me. My son doesn’t want to miss school, so he will stay home with my mom. Oh, and my teammate decided to come along, too. He is looking for a red-headed wife, so he thought he might come cheer me on and maybe we could help play matchmaker.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking Reneau is soft just because she has schoolgirl fantasies about castles and helping teammates find true love. She is a beast in the cage. Her last two fights ended up in losses to leave her with a record of six wins and three defeats. In one of those losses, she went all three rounds with Holly Holm, who went on to destroy the bantamweight juggernaut Ronda Rousey.
“Holly won that fight, no doubt. I wasn’t on my A-game,” Reneau admitted. “I suffered an injury before but didn’t want to back out — not that fight, not any fight. I suffered injuries before and during the fight, actually.”
Holm’s kicks are brutal. Just ask Rousey about the damage those legs are capable of inflicting if you doubt Reneau’s testimony.
“In the second round, I don’t remember if it was a side kick or a teep, but she got me just in the right spot. I couldn’t — but I had to — breathe,” said Reneau. “I have never suffered a rib injury before and it really caught me off guard. It was hard to keep fighting, but it was just one of those things.
“But during the fight I am a different person. It’s… animalistic. You feel it, but you don’t really feel it until the next day. Well, it was about two hours after the fight when it got unbearable. The plane ride home, getting into the shower — it was all hell. I never want to do that again.”
After healing up from the broken rib she suffered in the fight against Holm, Reneau battled back and lost a very controversial split decision to Ashlee Evans-Smith.
“After that fight, I was devastated,” she admitted. “I know I won that fight. The judges got us mixed up. They had her winning the first round 10-8, and that was all mine. If they would have corrected that mistake, I would have won that fight [by] unanimous decision. They could’ve fixed it, but I think that egos got in the way. I protested that decision.
“I was also livid. There isn’t much I get livid for, just, just, devastated. Coming into the next fight, I’ve got one thing on my mind: don’t leave it in the hands of the judges! I never want to be on that end of a decision again.”
Reneau has three losses on her record, but she hasn’t been finished as a professional MMA fighter. This is just a useless stat to her. She just hates to lose.
“I won’t gloat about never being finished because, regardless, I lost,” said Reneau. “At the end of the day, I don’t want to be on a losing streak, no matter how it’s decided.”
There are two eras of the women’s bantamweight division in the UFC. There was the Rousey title era, of course, and then the revolving-door era. After Holm beat Reneau in July 2015, Holm’s next fight was against Rousey in November of the same year. Holm defeated Rousey and claimed the title, but the championship has been in the hands of two other fighters since then.
“I was surprised to see Rousey’s conditioning so bad,” said Reneau. “She is usually on top of that. I remember thinking in the first round, ‘Wow, she is completely winded.’ She got hit with a punch, I think a jab, but of course I wasn’t surprised at the kicks. I told everyone that if Holm was going to knock her out, it would be with a kick. I blocked one of her kicks with my forearm and it was swollen for a week. And Rousey doesn’t know how to block.
“I have been thinking this was the year of the ‘And new…!’ I was happy to see the bantamweight division shook up. I do think that everything happens for a reason, and the cards were in favor of Holly. I would’ve loved [if it had] been me. So to make that happen, I need to move forward and show that I can compete at the top level.”
Reneau’s opportunity has arrived. She is in Ireland now, preparing for her 10th professional fight, which comes against Milana Dudieva at UFC Fight Night 99, which takes place on Saturday. Dudieva is a Russian fighter who brings a record of 11 wins and four losses. Dudieva is 1-1 in the UFC. Her last fight was a loss to Julianna Pena in 2015. After the loss, Dudieva took some time to have a child. The stakes for both fighters are high, no doubt, and both will have to contend with travel and shaking off a bit of ring rust.
“I don’t expect anything but her very best,” said Reneau. “I know she will be bringing her top game. I may not know exactly what she is going to bring to the table, so I am ready for everything and anything.
“I can tell, though, that you should not expect to see this fight go all three rounds! This is going to be a fast-paced fight — a really fast-paced fight.”
Sometimes fighters seem one-dimensional to the casual fan. It’s hard for us to imagine the lows of the losses and the pains of training and fighting. Reneau isn’t afraid to let us in, to give us a glimpse at the vulnerability, the motivation and the struggle. Her lack of fear, that willingness to open up and be truly seen, and her willingness to do all that she can in the cage make her a growing fan-favorite.
Marion would like to thank Eloy Garcia, her striking coach, and her fiancé and partner, Armando Perez, and her son, teammates and her coaches at Elite Team, Tom and Des. Follow Reneau on Twitter: @BelizeanBruiser
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