Love is in the air.
Once again, it’s that time of year where we dedicate a little extra time to telling those closest to our hearts just how much they mean to us.
That is no different here in ONE Championship, where the world’s best martial arts superstars have experienced the life-changing moment of finding the man or woman of their dreams.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we share five beautiful stories of how love changed the lives of some of our greatest athletes.
The Story Of Bibiano & Amanda
While out eating with his teammates in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, he spotted Amanda working as a waitress and was smitten.
The former ONE Bantamweight World Champion found the courage to give her his phone number and ask her out on a date. She never called, however. He even texted her, but she turned him down, saying she was too busy.
Then, one day out of the blue, his phone rang.
“One day, she called me, so we went for coffee, and had a good conversation,” the Brazilian recalled. “We talked about life, what I do for a living, and what she did. After that, I said I wanted to marry that girl.”
That’s exactly what happened, as Bibiano and Amanda are now happily married with three sons.
The Story Of Brandon & Jessica
Jessica was working at Alliance Training Center in San Diego, California, USA, and experienced problems with her boyfriend, so Brandon and his then-wife gave her a place to stay.
While Vera was away on a promotional trip for ONE, however, he was rocked by the news that his wife wanted a divorce. He confided in Jessica, who helped him through the difficult time in his life, and slowly, the pair started to get closer.
Eventually, their love for food and Jawaiian music drew them together, and they became a couple. But when Vera decided to relocate to Manila, Philippines to further his career, he was unsure what would happen with his relationship with Jessica.
Jessica quickly removed any doubts “The Truth” might have had, however.
“She said, in a different tone, ‘You lead, I follow, no matter what, and no matter where,'” Vera remembered. “How often do you find that, or even hear that from someone? That could have been when she got me.”
Now the pair are happily married after a beautiful ceremony last year, and they are continuing their journey in life together.
The Story Of Agilan & Amy
Welterweight contender Agilan “Alligator” Thani met his girlfriend, Amy, while working at Monarchy MMA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during his formative days as a mixed martial artist.
At the time, he was cleaning the gym, and when he looked up, he saw the love of his life, who went on to become the biggest driving force in his career.
As well as being his girlfriend away from the cage, Amy is now an integral part of his team. She not only coaches at his gym, but she also keeps tabs on Thani’s nutrition and diet heading into his bouts.
Her presence has given him not only love, but discipline, and he would not have it any other way.
“She is always in my corner. She is right there backstage, and in the corner, every time,” Thani said. “As long as she believes in me, I will do anything to make my dreams become possible.”
The Story Of Richard & Gina
Gina “Conviction” Iniong is enjoying the best success of her martial arts career, and she credits a large amount of that to her fiance, Richard.
The pair met at a Muay Thai tournament in the Philippines very early in Iniong’s martial arts journey. She was competing, and he was watching in the crowd.
“After my fight, he came up to me and asked for a picture,” she explained. “We soon became friends and from there, we opened up communication.”
Soon, the pair grew closer and developed a relationship that continues to this day.
The pair have traveled together, played sports together, and now have an unbreakable bond that has helped inspire Iniong to the best performances of her career inside the ONE cage.
“I think love is a very important part of being a martial artist because it gives you something to fight for,” Iniong continued.
“When you fight for more than just yourself, that is when you begin to unlock your true potential. I am lucky to have Richard behind me and supporting me through the good and bad times.”
The Story Of Aung La N Sang & Katie
Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang now lives and trains in Florida at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, but it was at his previous gym of Crazy 88 MMA in Baltimore, Maryland where he met the love of his life.
The two-division ONE World Champion was teaching at the gym when Katie walked through the doors to start training, and she soon became attracted to the Myanmar athlete and asked him out.
“I said no at first, because I was also her instructor and the kickboxing instructor, and we were not supposed to date [the students],” he explains.
However, the mutual attraction between the pair only grew stronger as they spent more time together at the gym. She continued to ask him out, and eventually, he accepted, and the pair had their first official date.
They quickly discovered they were the perfect match for each other, and in 2013, they got married. They had a son two years later, and now Aung La N Sang competes for them every time he steps into the cage.
“They really motivate me to be better, and really motivate me to make the most out of my opportunities and to not waste any time getting to my goals,” he said. “A lot of my decisions in my martial arts career are made so I can take care of them.”