Allycia Hellen Rodrigues will return to the promotion to defend her ONE women's atomweight muay Thai world championship with a new level of determination on Friday, December 2.
The Brazilian star hasn't competed since August 2020 after giving birth to her first child, but with her son now the major driving force in her life, Rodrigues promises to fight with more hunger than ever in her unification bout against interim titleholder Janet Todd at "ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin."
Although it'll be 28 months since her last appearance when she competes at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, the 24-year-old striker always knew she'd be back to doing what she loves at the elite level.
"I never thought it would be the end because I've seen several fighters become mothers, and they continued their careers, so I knew it would never be a problem for me either. Angela Lee was also pregnant. She returned and continued to be the world champion. It changes nothing. It's just a break from work.
"Now I'm stronger because I fight for myself and for my son. I want him to be proud of me. Whenever I look at him, I have a lot of strength to go even further. I know what I'm doing will be very worthwhile for us and for our future."
Pregnancy puts an immense physical toll on the body, and rearing a newborn doesn't offer much respite, either. However, Rodrigues wants to show that with the right amount of effort and dedication, you can still compete as a high-level athlete after the transformative experience of having a child.
Just like Lee returned to defend her ONE women's atomweight world title following her own pregnancy, the Brazilian wants to prove that even though some tasks seem insurmountable, they can be tackled – and it'll make the achievement of defending her gold even sweeter.
"This victory today is going to be very important for me because I've been without a fight for two years, but I want to prove that it makes no difference. I'll continue to be the champion because I work every day to stay on top.
"I know it ain't easy, but it's not impossible. If you work hard every day, you are capable of anything. I'll think that all the suffering I've been through since I got back to training was worth it.
"Every drop of sweat, pain, and tiredness that I felt in my body, every moment I lost with my son, all this was worth it. Then it will be just joy with the result of my work."
Rodrigues has more to show in ONE return
Reigning ONE women's atomweight muay Thai world champion Rodrigues wants to prove that her return to the promotion will surpass any and all expectations.
Rodrigues is happy to admit that there is some amount of trepidation given her layoff, but she knows she can rely on the work she has put in to improve and get back to business — starting with the American in Todd.
The Brazilian said:
"Starting over from scratch is not easy because the body changes with pregnancy, but now I feel good again to compete. I've been out for a while, but you can expect the best of me.
"I'm very anxious because I haven't fought in a long time, but I'm training hard, and I'm very confident. I trust in my team, in my training, and especially in myself.
"I only did one fight on ONE, and I haven't shown much of myself yet. I'm excited now because I want to show you a lot more, show why I'm the champion, and I will remain the champion!"
There's no tune-up fight to come back to when you're at the top of the pile, and Rodrigues has to go up against two-sport ONE world champion Todd in her comeback fight.
"JT" has the kickboxing and interim muay Thai gold to her name and brings a lot of tools to their unification battle, but despite Rodrigues describing her foe as an amazing fighter, she thinks she can impose her will to get the win in Manila.
"My fighting style is very focused on my kicks (and) elbows, and we worked a lot on the clinch. I feel like I'll be very strong with the knees and elbows in the clinch.
"If I need to put pressure on her, I will use a lot of clinch with knees and elbows because I also know how to fight like that. This is something I train every day. I think my clinch will be better and stronger."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.