What a difference 14 minutes and 10 seconds can make.
In the space of that time on a November night in Las Vegas, Gina Mazany resurrected a fight career that needed some resurrecting, as she halted Rachael Ostovich in the third round to stop a three-fight UFC skid and start a new run up the flyweight ladder.
“I haven't had a win like that, ever, so it was a whole new world for me,” said Mazany, still buzzing as she approaches her first fight of 2021 against Priscila Cachoeira on Saturday’s UFC 262 card in Houston. “And having a different coach and what I'm doing now, I'm just hungry for it - I want more of that.”
Now entrenched in Missouri with her fiancé, men’s flyweight contender Tim Elliott, and working under the tutelage of head coach James Krause and the Glory MMA squad, Mazany is a different fighter mentally and physically than she was when she left Las Vegas for her new home, and maybe the main difference is the level of confidence the 32-year-old now possesses.
“I feel like confidence has always been a thing, because there's always those people where I just want a quarter of their confidence, a little sliver of that,” she said. “And I've been looking a little more internally and it's the same thing - there's no reason why I can't be confident as s**t. James put it in a really good way. He's like, 'It's hard to move that confidence over, but if you see all the work you put in and you see all your improvements, it's hard not to be confident.' When you're doing gangster things, it's hard not to feel like a gangster.”
Mazany was all-gangster against Ostovich, and while Krause kept her focused and steady, when it was time to close the show, “Danger” did just that. It was as perfect a fight as she could have had, and she knew it.
“In my last fight, I had answers for everything in my brain before the fight,” Mazany said. “And now for this fight, I feel like I'm creating problems that this girl might give me, but in my mind, I have all the answers and we've been working on all the answers. Yeah, confidence is a huge thing and that's the one main thing that I've definitely improved on. It's so easy to be down on yourself, but once you get the confidence ball rolling, it's hard not to be confident.”
At this point, 11 fights into a pro career that began in 2008, Mazany almost has a clean slate in the UFC. She won a fight she needed to win, she’s in the position to make moves in her new weight class, and her home and training life are settled in Kansas City. It may have taken a while, but her parents may be realizing that this prizefighting thing is working out for their little girl.
“We (Mazany and her brother Dave, a fellow pro fighter) both got college degrees and we did everything that they (their parents) wanted us to do - got our degrees, pursued it a little bit, tried it out, but our passion lied in fist fighting,” said Mazany. “They came up for Tim's last fight and my mother stayed with Sterling (Elliott’s daughter) and watched her for a couple weeks. So, for me, it was such a cool experience. We just got a new home and it's beautiful and it was cool to see where I came from on my own with Tim and where we're at now.
"I think it's cool for them to see, too. Before, I was fighting in a bar for 50 bucks and 50 bucks in boxing fights, and now they're seeing me fight on the biggest stage in the world and making money to where I can take care of myself. They've been really supportive, but also they've been like, 'You're crazy, I don't know how you guys do it.' (Laughs) And I don't know how we do it, either, but let's keep going.”
It’s a story worth embracing, whether Mazany gets to a world title and superstardom or not. It’s the tale of living a life most wouldn’t dare to, and at the very least, Mazany will have plenty of stories to tell once she hangs up the gloves. And there’s glory in that, something she discussed recently with teammate Grant Dawson.
“It started with internet trolls,” she laughs. “And I told him, ‘You've got to understand, the highlight of his week, or maybe his month, is getting into a Twitter battle with you. That's the coolest s**t he's done all month.’ And we were saying, man, we've accomplished so much at our age and we're that one percent.
"I feel like a lot of times we take all these experiences for granted because it's just normal for us. But I really try to take in all the moments that we get from this fight game because all these experiences are so special. Being able to watch my fiancé fight front row center, I get to watch my friend fight for a world title, I feel like we've got so many crazy stories that are just sitting there right now, but I know when we get older, I cannot wait to share them, because they're some good ones.”
There are more to add to the collection, though. Remember that time Gina Mazany bounced back from a 1-4 start to make a run at the flyweight title? That’s going to be the one she may enjoy telling the most.
“It's been such a wild ride, and my biggest thing in life in general is I just want to be happy,” she said. “And I want to make sure the time I'm putting into whatever I'm doing, I want to make sure I love it and it makes me happy. Unfortunately for my parents, that's fist fighting (Laughs) and I love it. Now it's a little different because I'm older and I've got a family, so obviously the goal of making more money is very motivating.
"But recently, I see a heavier future for me, like maybe touching that belt one day. Not yet, I still have a lot to work on and I want to work up the rankings, but I don't see why I can't be in the Top 5 in the next year, year and a half. Before, that seemed so far for me and that wasn't even really a goal, but now, seeing how much I've improved and seeing how much I'm learning and how I'm doing in the gym, there's really no reason why I can't be up there with those other girls. I want to eventually move up those rankings and just go for it. I think I'm definitely talented enough and good enough and I work hard enough, so there's no reason why that can't be me.”
No reason at all. She’s here now, and she likes the view.
“I know that all this didn't happen by accident,” Mazany said. “Everything that I've done has a purpose. I really, really trust the process because I trusted it last time and it went really well. I'm confident, I'm feeling it, I feel like I'm gonna take this girl into deep waters and I just don't see her coming back up for too much air. It's a very different feeling for me and I think a confident, strong GM at 125 pounds is a really dangerous one.”