Team Lakay’s Iniong takes a break, focuses on first pregnancy
MANILA, Philippines—It’ll take a long time before Gina Iniong returns to the ONE Championship cage.
ONE’s No. 5 ranked women’s atomweight contender is expecting her first child with her husband Richard Araos, whom she married in October.
The pregnancy nearly made Iniong walk out of the sport entirely but a lengthy conversation with mentor Mark Sangiao persuaded the Team Lakay stalwart to think things through.
“She thought about retirement, but I told her, ‘don’t think about it yet.’ I told her to focus on her pregnancy and then maybe she can make decisions after if she really wants to stop,” said Sangiao in a report from ONE’s official website.
“I told her that it is hard to decide right now. I’ve seen a lot of people retire, then come out of retirement. It’s best for her to just focus on her well-being and pregnancy, and then worry about the next steps in her career later.”
Iniong (9-4) is 3-1 in her last four fights and is coming off back-to-back victories against Hayatun Jihin Radzuan and Asha Roka.
She’s also dabbled outside of the MMA circuit and was successful in her kickboxing pursuit when she won the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in December.
Sangiao said that Iniong had been adamant in her decision to focus on her family even before the SEA Games started as she and her husband already had plans of having a child during that time.
“Even before the SEA Games, she was telling me that she wanted to focus on her family. She said they’re getting older [Iniong is 30-years-old] and they already want to have a child,” said Sangiao.
“This is such a huge blessing for her. She wanted this for a long time, and it was given.”
Although Iniong may be out for a long while, Sangiao said that Team Lakay fully supports her and that ONE Championship also sent out its congratulations.
“We cannot really tell if Gina Iniong will return. It’s her decision. We cannot really say,” said Sangiao.
“We told ONE already about it, and they sent their congratulations. They also told her not to think about retirement at this time. It’s her life and whatever she does, we’ll support her.”