As Faith Van Duin entered the cage, thoughts ran through her mind.

There were the thoughts of her mum, who has stood by her throughout her life.

There were the thoughts of her teenage years, when Van Duin became a mother herself.

As Van Duin stepped across the threshold and onto the mat, she carried these thoughts with her. Every punch she threw, every kick she landed, every blow she endured and every submission she attempted, they would all be for her daughters and her mum. They are the ones that give her that little bit of an edge over her opponents. It’s about more than just winning for the 27-year-old dark-haired warrior. When a parent has that kind of passion in them, doing the absolute best that they can do is the only option.

On Aug. 31, Van Duin takes part in the Storm Damage one-night women’s eliminator for the promotion’s featherweight title, and whilst winning the tournament will certainly fast-track her one-fight career, her goals sit firmly with showing her mum and her family that success can be achieved by hard work and dedication.

“I always wanted to do something to get fit, but after having my first child at the age of 15, I just didn’t have the time,” she revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I hadn’t done any other sports before, but when my kids got older, I was trying to work out what I was going to do with myself. At the beginning of last year, I was talking to my mum and she was asking why I wanted to start training. I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and show my girls that with hard work and goals you can do anything. We were working out what goals I had in my life and I decided that I wanted to be New Zealand MMA champion and eventually be a world champion.”

Much like her countrywoman, Kate Da Silva, who is also competing in the tournament, Van Duin finds herself in an inactive environment within her home country of New Zealand. Like any fierce competitor, she wants to test herself against the best fighters that she can and as often as she is able. With few fights available to Van Duin in her native land, it’s no surprise that her professional mixed martial arts record only consists of one fight. However, that’s something that she plans on changing sooner rather than later.

“There are not many women fighting here [in New Zealand] to keep active,” she said. “I could keep on fighting by taking some Muay Thai fights, but my real passion is MMA, and that’s what I want to do. In order to keep on fighting, I just have to fight overseas. There’s nothing I can really do about it. A lot of women train, but never have a fight,. There are a lot of people fighting in Muay Thai, but they never transfer over to MMA.”

Muay Thai may be the focus for many of the female athletes in Van Duin’s corner of the world, but not for Van Duin.

“I really love jiu-jitsu,” she admitted. “I feel calm when I am doing it and feel that I am able to connect really well with it. It’s the reason that I fell in love with the sport, because I was kind of a natural at it and I really enjoyed it, and it pushed me to do better physically and mentally.”

Social networking is fast becoming a very important aspect of mixed martial arts. It allows fans to interact with fighters, gives regional promotions a quick and easy advertising outlet and it is also used as a tool for up-and-coming fighters to source out potential match-ups. Spending a few hours looking over various Facebook pages usually wouldn’t result in a potential title fight, but it did for Van Duin.

“I was on Facebook liking a lot of pages,” she explained. “Then, about five months ago, I saw the Storm Damage one and got in contact with Storm and kinda went from there. I asked my trainers if I should do it and they said to put my name down, so I was put in as a reserve and then a few girls pulled out, so now I’ve got the chance to fight for a title.”

With just one professional mixed martial arts outing to her name, fighting away from home could be seen as stepping a little too far out of her comfort zone. There is a lot at stake with her mostly self-funded trip to Australia for what could be an unsuccessful fight. However, Van Duin doesn’t let the perceived added pressure get to her.

“For me, it’s just going to be like a normal fight,” she said. “It’s not really that far to travel, and it doesn’t matter to me that I’ll be fighting [in Australia]. I just like to focus on the fight, and I don’t really want to think about how it’s all going to happen. My aim is to win and then get to Ronda [Rousey] one day [laughs].”

Having children of her own, Van Duin recognizes the value of a supportive parent. That is exactly what she has in her own mother, who continues to guide her and has done so from the outset of her career.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without her support,” she admitted. “Before a fight, I will get nervous and worried, and she will always be there to tell me that, no matter what, I’d done my best and no matter what the outcome would be, she would be proud of me. That’s what is important to me and that’s why I keep on fighting.”

When Van Duin enters the cage on Aug. 31, it might seem a little bit clichéd, but win, lose or draw, just being able to compete in mixed martial arts makes her a winner in the eyes of her family. To Van Duin, that is what is most important.

Faith would like to thank Gym 101, Bedlym Fightwear and most importantly, her mum. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Storm Damage MMA Logo (Storm Damage)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.