Picture: Germany’s Julia Dorny (far right) takes her place on the podium at the IMMAF European Open Championships
IMMAF World and European Bronze medalist Julia Dorny recaps her IMMAF European Open experience and talks about potentially turning pro and changing the perception of mixed martial arts in Germany.
In November, 2015, Dorny competed at the IMMAF European Open Championships, her second experience of an IMMAF Tournament.
The 25-year-old captured Bronze at the World Championships in in July, 2015 and looked to progress from that in Walsall at the Europeans. However, her first bout of the tournament, she came up against the eventual Gold medalist Sanna Merta, losing an antagonizingly close fight.
“Honestly it was [disappointing], especially since I was leading by points. Before the tournament I was very sick too, laryngitis, fever and such – but for me having my roots in Judo there are no excuses: you can win or you lose,” admitted Dorny. “There is nothing in between. I lost.
“I understand the reason: In round number three I ran out of energy, and she did very well. Sanna is more experienced than me in MMA at her age of 31. I hope we will fight again soon. I know she was very surprised that she won, but I am glad she made it to finally win the Gold. I am on my way to achieve that goal too.”
With a rich history in judo, Dorny explained her persistence to continue in MMA, having set herself a huge goal for the summer of 2016 to finally claim Gold in the World Championships. First, however, Dorny must qualify through the German national tryouts which take place next month.
“It was my second IMMAF tournament ever. I liked it though. I already fought at the World Championships in Las Vegas,” said Dorny. “To fight in a cage is definitely different than fighting on a tatami (the mat used in Judo). But this is my future – I’m hoping to turn professional after the 2016 World Championships and the IMMAF is a good intermediate step towards that goal.
“Before I fight at the Worlds I need to qualify first at the GEMMAF German Nationals on March 12th, to prove that I am the right girl at 145lbs for the German national team. This year my goal is to pick up the Gold medal in Vegas, not just Bronze. I am very excited and looking forward to this tournament.”
Dorny elaborates on her experience of making the jump from the single discipline of judo into a multi-disciplinary sport. Citing former UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey as her inspiration, Dorny admits the new outlook that she has gained on sport is one that she loves.
“With MMA itself I started in December 2014. Before that I had just fought in judo which I started at the age of seven, and I love traditional martial arts. Its just that in judo within the last six years the IJF has changed all the major rules: They have taken away all the leg grabs, changed the type of Gi you wear for competition three or four times, changed how you score points and such – I was just sick of adapting every time.
“I felt like doing something new, where I could still use all my techniques and of course coming from a judo background Ronda really inspired me. She showed us that there is way more than “just” judo, and demonstrated the level of broadcast, media and press attention that there is in the world for martial arts. So I love what I do. I finally have a second martial art – I still train and compete in judo, but also in BJJ and grappling, in Sumo and MMA – I love the new lifestyle as I prove to myself every day.”
Germany’s Dorny is currently competing her masters in Media Studies and has elected to complete her final project on the media landscape for German MMA between 2005 and 2015.
“In my Bachelors degree I studied journalism and corporate communication and continued my Masters with African studies, but transferred to media studies later on. I am still researching and hope to maybe get some data support from the UFC. I want to change the awareness of mixed martial arts as a serious and safe martial art in Germany.”
Dorny also works as Chief Editor for a health magazine in Berlin and has a strong belief that the current, struggling MMA scene in Germany can be changed for the better and grow like it has in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
“We have to change the general image and appearance of the sport, I guess, to make it more positive and to show that there is a future. When we have achieved that we have to make it more mainstream and show it’s not just underground people fighting, show that we are an elite league fighters worth being sponsored, in order to make it an Olympic sport one day. Maybe we should introduce a belt system for MMA fighters. Let´s say you are black belt in judo than you are eligible to compete, if you are blue belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu you should be able to compete too. Any belt could be shown as proof of level. We should have regular verification.”
As for the rest of 2016, alongside her goal to win a Gold medal at the 2016 World Championships, Dorny expects to keep herself busy in all aspects of life as well.
“I have many goals actually. For me personally I seek to stay healthy and uninjured, pick up a few gold medals at several tournaments in several martial arts, become world champion and finish my M.A. in summer. Maybe and hopefully I can then turn pro and just be an athlete. I want to help my judo kids to do well in tournaments too and be there for them. I guess that’s enough goals for now – I am very determined.”