The benchwarmer who became a record breaker


Mad Dog beats the bag like it ate her last speckled egg. With short, explosive jabs she pounds splashes of dust from the hapless mass, ending the combo with a crushing hook. The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, known out the octagon as Amanda Lino, has the routine seared into her muscle memory. Lino steps back from the training apparatus, her opponent hitting the deck in her mind’s eye. Sucking in urgent breaths of air, she holds her stance a moment longer, as the focus drains from her eyes. This is what it takes. Day after day.

Every hour of Lino’s life is precisely allocated to the perfection of her body and the evolution of her skill. She has come a long way since the beginnings of her career, when her only objective was to get in shape. Now donning a warrior’s physique, the key to taking control of her body was finding an engaging sport that challenged her mind. As it happened, the 26-year-old has a rather rare talent for her chosen activity. Coming good on the promise of her 2014 Featherweight Amateur World Championship victory, she’s now the top ranked combatant in South Africa.

In MMA strength of mind is as important as a powerful punch. Fighting out of Umhlanga, Lino had to overcome the frustration of being without opposition for most of her first professional year. Intent on becoming the best, she used the time to develop her game, making her a formidable assailant from round one – just ask the first opponent she knocked out before the round one bell, or the victim of her record-breaking 10-second drop. Though her sensational rise through the rankings has since attracted the respect of the fighting world, Lino’s sense of certainty was born in herself.

 *Some of the footage and images in this film were used courtesy of EFC Worldwide