Moscow-born Israeli Olga Rubin, 31, is a sportswoman in her own right. An interior designer by profession, she married Igal and became a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter at the age of 26, six months after the birth of their son, Leo.
Thrown into the deep end, facing her compatriot Laurita Cibirite, she made a thunderous debut. She won her first six fights, three by a knockout. But it was in July last year that “Big Bad Olga” witnessed her career take off at Oklahoma’s WinStar World Casino.
Following her impressive series of victories, she fought for the world featherweight title against an adversary nicknamed “The Jewel” – Julia Budd. But after several fairly balanced exchanges, the champion kicked Olga in the abdomen. It was a serious blow, and the referee ended the fight in the first round.
Since then, Rubin has been thirsting for revenge. The coronavirus pandemic took its toll on many fighters, and several careers have been put on hold. Her goal now is to return to the octagon and prove to herself more than anyone else that she is still the “Big Bad Olga” that everyone knows.
“My last fight was last November, and I can’t wait to fight again,” she says. After turning 31 on August 18, she is more determined than ever.
“I am obsessed and in love with MMA,” she says. “I’m constantly watching fights and coaching classes. I train every day and I’m ready to fight anyone.”
Her London-based manager, the legendary British Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Brad Pickett, has no doubt about Olga’s skills and that she will have the opportunity to fight for the title shot once again.
“Olga is almost at the top of the division,” he says. “She’s going to rectify a couple of things and as soon as she’s won several times, we’ll give her a second chance for the belt.”
More than just a manager, he also takes care of her training. “I met Olga Rubin for the first time at the gym where I was training. When she asked me to become her manager, I had no hesitation.,” Pickett says. “Olga is the first professional woman fighter I’ve ever taken under my wing. She works hard and will stop at nothing. She has progressed very quickly. Her last fight was a defeat but she has a very good state of mind and trains hard every day. She will come back very strong.” Moshik Keidar, her personal coach for the past two years, praises her fighting spirit. “She’s a hard worker,” Keidar says “She trains hard every day and she’s very disciplined. If she keeps this up, she could fight anyone and she’ll have a good chance. We spend a lot of time together. My wife and daughter get along with Olga very well. She is part of the family.” Rubin says she draws her strength from her son. “The only way to succeed is to put all your heart and soul into it. You have to make sacrifices,” she says. “When I train, I constantly think of my son. It’s all for him, to make him proud.” Immigrating to Israel and settling in Holon with her parents in 1991 at the age of one, Olga always had a sense of family. Although her status has changed, she has a need to alternate between her role as a mother and a fighter.
“I get up early every morning. I train. I pay attention to my diet. I take my dog out. I take care of the house. I have a very ordinary life,” she says.
Despite consecutive defeats in her last two fights, she is not discouraged. “When you want something, you do everything you can to get it,” she says. “Even if you’re only improving by one percent a day, it’s satisfying. Both victories and defeats are a way for me to move forward, to improve. All the best fighters on the circuit have already lost in their careers. I learn from them. They are my role models.” Olga is sure of one thing: when she gets into the cage, she has every chance of winning. “It’s 50/50, no matter who I’m up against. Either I win or I lose,” she says. “I’ve been an outsider all my life. The main thing is to believe in what you’re doing.”