There are many reasons why MMA fighters choose to make combat sports their profession. Rarely is it for the money. Some like the challenge. Some need the fight. Some wandered into a gym looking for a change in life, and others are groomed for it from an early age. And at least one saw Gina Carano on television and decided that MMA was for her.

Marion “The Belizean Bruiser” Reneau has always loved sports and fitness. She became a P.E. coach in order to help foster that passion in children. Her principal, a former boxer, asked her if she wanted to learn the sweet science. Reneau said sure, and so they started training. The principal taught Reneau the boxing techniques, and Reneau shared her wisdom of weight and strength training. Then, one day, Reneau saw Carano fight. The light bulb went off. She remembers the day clearly.

“I thought to myself, ‘I could do that,’ and so I decided to train to fight,” Reneau told The MMA Corner. “At the time, it was really hard to find a gym that would train a female. I would say to them, ‘I want to fight,’ and they would laugh and say, ‘Maybe in a few years.’ I went into Elite Team and they just took me in. I told them I wanted to fight within the year and they said okay.”

Reneau (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Reneau (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Reneau was determined. While raising her son and working her full-time job, she was still able to continue her strength and conditioning while focusing on learning all the aspects of MMA.

“I am lucky that I am a P.E. teacher so I can run when they run, and when my students are lifting, if someone needs a partner I just jump in. I go home, cook for me and my son, help him with homework, and then go to the gym to train,” Reneau explained.

As a professional MMA fighter, Reneau has never been finished and has won all her fights via knockout or TKO. That happens to be very similar to the amateur record of her upcoming opponent, Maureen Riordon. On Friday, July 25, at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., Reneau will face Riordan, who is making her pro debut, as part of the Resurrection Fighting Alliance 16 card.

“Our styles are actually similar, so I expect this fight to be a full-out war,” Reneau stated. “Anytime anyone steps into the cage, I give them credit and respect, no matter their record or experience level. I am always looking to finish the fight by tapping or knockout. No matter where the fight goes, I am ready for it. I am well-rounded, and where the fight goes depends on where I want it to go. But I expect this one to be a dogfight.”

Reneau will only be in Colorado’s altitude for a day before the fight. That altitude is famous for creating an additional hurdle for fighters to overcome.

“I would love to be able to get acclimated to the altitude, but it’s just too expensive for me,” Reneau admitted. “But it’s the experience, the opportunity to go out there and impress. My weight cut is right on schedule and I feel strong and explosive.

“I actually like facing her in her hometown for her pro debut. She is the one with all the pressure. I mean, you don’t want to lose in front of your friends and family. And even though I have more experience professionally, I like coming in as the underdog. It relieves all the pressure to let me come in and surprise people. I’m grateful to my management for getting me the opportunity to come out to Colorado. I’ve always wanted to visit. I hear it’s beautiful. Whenever I see gorgeous pictures of mountains, it seems to be Colorado.”

Reneau has an artistic side and is also a part-time photographer, shooting everything from weddings to family pictures.

Reneau (second from left) (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Reneau (second from left) (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

“I got started because, as a single mom, I wanted some shots of my son and I. But when I got quotes, I was shocked at how much they wanted,” she said. “I decided I could do it and borrowed my mom’s camera, bought a tripod and took some shots. They looked professional, so I started doing it for family and friends, and then it dawned on me that I could start charging for it. It’s not a full-time thing—I just don’t have that kind of time—but I really love shooting out in nature.

“I have a collection of antique cameras and actually prefer shooting with film over digital, especially black and white. I have 24 cameras. I guess my favorite would be the box camera. One time, I went to a yard sale and purchased an old film camera and there was still a roll of film in there. I got it developed, and it was obviously from a long time ago. I took the pictures to the lady who sold me the camera and it turned out to be her parents. She was so happy to see her parents again when they were younger. It’s like a time machine.”

It seems that no matter what Reneau decides to do, she will accomplish it and will do it well. It’s a trait she has passed on to her son.

“He is 12 years old and has been training for six years in BJJ. He is a yellow belt, and if he were to decide to want to fight, I would definitely encourage him and help him,” Reneau said. “But right now, his focus is on swimming. He saw Michael Phelps swim in the Olympics and decided he wanted to that, so now we go to a lot of swim meets and, without any lessons, he has been doing really well.

“I guess we are very similar. I watched Bruce Jenner in the ’88 Olympics, and that is what got me started in track and field. Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree [laughs].”

Reneau’s strength is her strength of mind, body and spirit. Although she never took taekwondo, it is clear that she is the epitome of indomitable spirit. This Friday, her opponent will be welcomed into professional MMA in a trial by fire.

Marion, aka “Moe,” would like to thank her sponsors: Ed Martinez of Express Picture Framing, Eco-Swap, Boca Builders and 5-0 Fitness Nutrition. She would also like to thank her strength and conditioning coach and sponsor, John Wheeler, as well as everyone at Team Elite including Doug Marshall, the Brute sisters and her family, fiancé, son and friends for all their support. Follow Reneau on Twitter: @black_diamond28 and Instagram: @mzmoemo

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.