Teenager Dakota Ditcheva is a Muay Thai fighter and currently a European, British, Celtic and English champion, as well as a three-time World Champion.
As European, British, Celtic and English Muay Thai champion as well as a three-time World Champion you’d think Dakota Ditcheva has no problems.
But the 17 year old fighter from Sale has found success has one drawback – she now struggles to find any girls who are willing to fight her.
To get around her unusual problem the fighter, who has been inspired by the rise of Ronda Rousey and the UFC , is considering moving into Mixed Martial Arts.
Dakota is doing her best to emulate the success of former Olympian Rousey , who is currently the highest paid fighter male or female in UFC, and in more than 25 Muay Thai fights, she is yet to be beaten.
Despite still being in full time education, Dakota spends every spare second in the gym, training six days a week.
For Dakota, fighting is her biggest passion, said she: “I just love the adrenaline and the excitement that comes with the sport.
“But also, the discipline and dedication that it involves. I’m so driven to succeed – competing is all I really want to do.
“When I’m preparing for a fight, I don’t think of anything else except winning. Losing doesn’t come into it at any point, it’s just not an option.
“When I walk out for a fight, I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m focused on the fight and on what I’m there to do.”
Last month, Dakota competed in The Road to the Main Event , a UK event which showcases upcoming Muay Thai talent.
Three of the opponents that Dakota was due to face at the event made the decision to pull out of the fight, so she was left to face off against a fourth scheduled opponent.
She said: “I’ve never lost a fight and I think that’s why finding girls who are willing to fight me has proved difficult.
“I fight all over, in so many different competitions and I’ve always been willing to travel to find opponents but it’s been tough to find other girls who will commit to fighting me.”
Often frustrated by a lack of opponents, Dakota is now considering a move into mixed martial arts (MMA) in the future.
In recent years, MMA – which combines various combat sports and Olympics disciplines including Muay Thai, boxing, judo and wrestling – has catapulted into the mainstream sports news agenda.
This is thanks in large part to the rapid growth of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest and highest level MMA organisation.
UFC has produced fighters including former women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, who has become a global household name.
Despite suffering her first ever UFC loss earlier this year, Rousey is now the most popular female athlete on social media, above the likes of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.
Dakota is in no doubt the effect Rousey’s rise has had on her, she said: “A lot of people who have been watching me fight, ask if I’ll ever move into MMA.
“I think people are excited to see what I can do. Obviously women’s MMA is huge now and it gets a huge amount of attention so that could be an exciting challenge for me.
“Ronda Rousey is my favourite fighter. I really look up to her, and to all the women who fight in UFC. To think that one day I could have an opportunity to be in the UFC competing, it’s just really exciting.
“I watch all the women’s UFC fights. If I can’t catch the fights late at night, the first thing I’ll do in the morning is to get up and watch them. I also like watching Joanna Jedrzejczyk , the UFC’s women’s strawweight champion.
“She’s such an aggressive fighter, just like I am. I like to see what she does inside the Octagon and sometimes I’m able to take tips from what I see her do, and apply it in my own fights.
“For me, watching fighters like Ronda and Joanna just reinforces to me that girls really can go out there and fight, and they can to it to a really high level.”
And Dakota has more in common with Rousey than simply a talent for fighting.
Like Rousey – who was introduced to judo at a young age by her mother, a World Champion judoka – Dakota was introduced to Muay Thai at the age of two by her own mother, Lisa.
Lisa herself was a world champion in Thai boxing, kick boxing and full contact karate, and she now runs the gym, Northern Spirit in Sale, in which Dakota trains.
Dakota said: “My mum is great.
She’s always loved to compete and to coach so I’ve grown up around the sport.
“I don’t know any different. The sport is in my blood. She always supports me and she enjoys watching me get better and better.
“The amazing thing is that so many of the best female fighters in the UFC moved over to MMA after achieving success in one sport.
“Take Holly Holm, she came into MMA from boxing and now she’s the UFC world champion. That reassures me that I could be up there one day.”
Dakota won this year’s Daily Mirror Pride of Sport Young Sportsperson of the Year award.
Courtesy of: Mirror