This weekend, Australian fighter Jacinta Austin will face off against top European strawweight Josefine Lindgren Knutsson at UAE Warriors 36 in Abu Dhabi.
This will be Austin’s fifth professional MMA bout, and she enters the cage with a perfect 4-0 record. Despite it being just the fifth time Austin will be competing in professional MMA, the Aussie brings with her a myriad of striking experience, having over 25 fights in professional boxing, muay thai, and kickboxing, including 10 championship victories.
Not content to be a one-dimensional fighter, Austin has been developing her grappling since making the jump to MMA.
‘I never want to be known as a one trick pony, I want to be good everywhere.’, Austin said.
‘The worst thing you can do is come from a striking background and assume the only thing you’re going to do is strike and defend takedowns.’
‘I enjoy [grappling] somewhat more than striking now. I’ve competed in multiple grappling tournaments…I wouldn’t call myself a natural at it but I definitely picked it up quicker than the striking.’
That passion for grappling earned Austin the first finish of her MMA career in her last bout, when she submitted New Zealand’s Nyrene Crowley via rear naked choke at Eternal 68 in 2022.
Austin said this performance has given her a new confidence in her abilities as a fighter.
‘Now that I’ve finished my last opponent, I feel a lot more confident going out and looking for it. I go out there looking to finish now.’
Making the jump from purely striking competitions to MMA was not something Austin took lightly.
‘I didn’t really know I wanted MMA. I thought I did but I wasn’t convinced.’
‘I was worried I couldn’t repeat what I had done in kickboxing, in MMA.’
‘It’s been difficult going from having to go from covering one skill set to covering five-to-six skill sets…there’s a lot to be learned from sitting and watching fights, watching jiu jitsu breakdowns and wrestling DVDs. There’s a lot more study in mixed martial arts.’
Knutsson has taken some shots at Austin and her camp in the lead up to their fight, although it hasn’t had much of an effect on her, Austin said.
‘I’ve had 25 striking fights…[Knutsson’s] striking is nothing special. I’ve been striking for years…It’s just going to make me feel better when I win.’
Knutsson won her fight on Road to UFC 3 in June 2022, and Austin feels a win over the Swede could be a big step towards getting a UFC contract.
‘I’m fighting someone who’s already been looked at by the UFC. So I’m pretty confident that if I perform well and dominantly this weekend that it’s going to be my turn next.’
UAE Warriors 36 will be broadcast live from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on the UFC FightPass on Sunday the 26th at 1am AEDT.