Top ONE women’s atomweight contender Gina “Conviction” Iniong of the famed Team Lakay of Baguio City, Philippines has been out of action since her January 2020 victory over India’s Asha Roka.
She has since spent months in isolation, dealing with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, just like everyone else. However, things have been quite eventful outside of the cage for the Filipina mixed martial arts veteran.
Iniong announced she was pregnant with her first child with husband Richard Araos shortly after the bout, and decided to step away from the limelight to focus on her family.
“I won gold (kickboxing) at the SEA Games. I was able to represent my country and bring glory and honor back to the Philippines. Most important of all, I was able to get married and have my precious baby girl,” said Iniong.
Iniong welcomed daughter Gianna Rose into the world just last November. She says the birth of her child has helped put a lot of her life into focus, and she in turn discovered a newfound appreciation for the simplest of things.
“This year, everything just fell into place for me, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons. The biggest lesson I learned this year is that time is so precious. You can’t put a price on it. It’s the only thing you can never make more of. It’s life’s most expensive commodity,” said Iniong.
While Iniong’s focus over the next few months will be to take care of and raise her child, and spend time with family, “Conviction” says she will also be trying her best to stay fit and healthy.
At one point during her pregnancy, Iniong considered retiring altogether, before Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao convinced her to make a firm decision only after giving birth. Iniong ultimately decided to continue on with her career, stating that she is more motivated now than ever.
“Everything is the same. I want to be the best Gina Iniong in the Circle possible. Nothing has changed for me,” said Iniong.
“I can’t wait to get back in the Circle. I’ve missed it. Once I’m cleared to go back to training, and when my body feels right, you can expect to see me alongside your favorite Team Lakay superheroes again.”
Before she took a break from competition, Iniong was ranked the #5 women’s atomweight in ONE Championship. Due to her inactivity, that spot has since been relinquished to Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex.
Iniong, however, isn’t the least bit fazed by the recent turn of events. In fact, the Filipina fighting veteran is even more determined now to reaffirm herself as one of ONE Championship’s most talented females.
“My division is really exciting right now. There are so many great talents and I’m so excited for a lot of potential matchups. Any opponent that ONE Championship will give me, I’ll be ready,” said Iniong.
“I’m hungry and motivated to re-establish myself at the top. Fans can expect a stronger, wiser, and more dangerous Gina Iniong next year.”