Looking back over her first year in the amateur MMA ranks, bantamweight Keana Montenegro has had the kind of start that most fighters only dream of.
Over the course of four fights in 2018, and her first fight of 2019, Montenegro has managed to win all five of her bouts, finishing all of them in the process.
“Last year was a busy year for me,” Montenegro told MMAWeekly.com. “I had four fights. They all went good. I finished the year undefeated and all but one of them were first round finishes. One of them went to the third round, but that one (I also won) by submission.
“I started off my year in January, in a title fight, and I won that by another submission in the first year. It’s been a pretty busy year. After that fight I’ve had a little bit of time to recover, but then I hopped right back into camp to get ready for the next fight.”
Having initially not contemplated making a career out of fighting, Montenegro has embraced the success she’s had and is eager to keep it going.
“I’ve done martial arts my whole life, (but) I never thought I wanted to turn it into career,” said Montenegro. “As soon as I turned 18 that’s when we got ready and started looking for fights, and last year it all came pretty quick. I never would have imagined, but it’s amazing, and I love it, and I want to see how much further I can progress.
“Things have gone really well and I know I do need a break, but like people say you have to be ready for a fight anytime anywhere. This is a job. You have to always be ready. It’s our job to always stay ready. After this (upcoming) fight I’d like to go out with a bang, and then take a little bit of time to allow my body to recover and be ready and see what comes next.”
At 559 Fights 70 on March 16 in Fresno, California, Montenegro (5-0) faces local favorite Maritza Sanchez (4-6) in the evening’s 135-pound main event.
“I’ve done my research and she looks like my toughest opponent so far, but I’m ready for it,” Montenegro said of Sanchez. “She’s another experienced fighter, which is what I want. I never want to go into the cage with somebody with somebody and just have it look like it’s going to be an easy win.
“I’m comfortable whether it stays standing or going to the ground. It’s my first fight at 135 pounds, so I’m excited to be a bit healthier and faster and still feel skilled. I’m very excited for this fight. It should go pretty well.”
For Montenegro, the course for 2019 is to rack up as many accolades as she can in the amateur ranks before stepping up to the pros in the near future.
“I would love to win the belt for this fight and then go after other belts,” said Montenegro. “My overall goal this year is to see how many belts, how many title fights, I can collect, and then next year, after that, turn pro.”