Newly-crowned Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year Gase Sanita faces some big challenges as she steps into the octagon for the next stage of her career.
The double mixed martial arts world champion at amateur level, who picked up the province’s ultimate sporting accolade at the sports awards last Monday, turned professional earlier this year.
She has had two fights, both resulting in losses against vastly more-experienced fighters, but has learned a lot from them and feels she is well-placed to successfully kick-start her move into the paid ranks.
“It’s all go. We are just waiting to see what my next fight will be. It will be in a lower weight class, going down from featherweight to bantamweight, about four kilos under what I was fighting at. Hopefully [in that class] we will find more female opponents my height, rather than towers.
“Fingers crossed that I get my next fight in New Zealand, maybe Auckland or Hamilton, but if we have to leave the country hopefully it’s just across the ditch. Early next year should be the next fight.”
As was shown in her opening professional bouts, against seasoned Australian and American opponents, the road to MMA success is often rocky, especially at the outset.
“The hardest things about the fight game is that it’s not just the physical you have to push past, it’s the mentality of being a fighter … having to strict to strict diets, making weight – all that stuff definitely takes a toll,” said Gase.
However, it is a sport she loves and is willing to sacrifice a huge amount of time and effort for in a bid to reach the top.
Although there are opportunities in other regions for her to further her career, at this stage she has no plans to leave Blenheim.
“My son loves it here, my partner loves it here and so do I. It’s small enough to walk everywhere and it’s big enough to escape when you need to stay home,” she added with her ever-present chuckle.