March 22 2017 02:31 PM

Lansing-based cage fighter prepares for professional debut

Lansing-based amateur MMA fighter Aurelia Cisneros, seen here sparring with a trainer, will make her professional debut next month in Grand Rapids.
Jacqueline Marie Luttrell

Hitting the gym three times a week is a struggle for most people. For Aurelia Cisneros, it’s a light day if she only gets to the gym three times.

“I wrestle with one of the coaches here at MSU twice a week. Then I do MMA (mixed martial arts), which is boxing, sparring and jujitsu — we basically live-spar, live fighting three times a week,” Cisneros said. “On top of that I do my plain jiu-jitsu; that’s about four times a week.”

That schedule doesn’t even include her job as a personal trainer at ZIFiT in Frandor Shopping Center, where she sometimes pushes herself just as hard as her trainees.

“I do train with my clients, just to get that extra strength in,” Cisneros said.

But why all the training? Because the 24-year-old mother and graduate of MSU is also known as Aurelia “The Beast” Cisneros, an amateur MMA cage fighter. Cisneros, who stands 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs in at 145 lbs., will go pro in just over a month. On April 29, her amateur-level record — six wins, one loss — will be wiped clean, and she will face her first professional opponent. While she knows who her opponent will be, she’s not allowed to reveal that just yet.

“I feel very confident with the opponent that I have been locked in with. I know her ins and outs; We are actually friends,” Cisneros said. “We’ve punched each other in the face before, so why not make some money off of it?”

This confidence has been hard won. Barely three years ago, Cisneros was just getting her start in the fighting world. Even picking up the sport was happenstance. She was approached by a stranger who told her that she looked like she could fight.

“I had no idea what MMA was. I had no formal training of any sort — I got into a little trouble in high school, but that was it,” Cisneros said with a laugh. “Being a fresh body, I’ve learned every aspect of the game from the beginning without any bad habits, therefore I feel confident in every aspect.”

A self-described freestyle fighter, Cisneros doesn’t favor a single fighting style when she trains or competes. She wants to remain as versatile as possible.

“You need to know every aspect of fighting — jiu-jitsu, wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, every single form,” Cisneros said. “I even do salsa dancing classes for my footwork. Yoga too — I do everything possible.”

Yet Cisneros isn’t doing this only for herself and her love of the sport. She has other, stronger motivations.

“Sobriety was something I was struggling with since I was 13, and it got really bad in college,” Cisneros said. “After I had my daughter, she actually kind of saved me. But she didn’t save me 100 percent, and I still continued to drink.”

Fighting became the answer for Cisneros. In the most unlikely place, she also found another, more personal means of support.

“MMA helped me find God,” Cisneros said. “I know this may sound crazy to other people, but I am now 20 months sober. And that’s why I fight. I fight to stay sober to have a good life.”

Since then, Cisneros has launched her own company, Cisneros Promotions LLC, and has funneled all her available time and resources into becoming a professional fighter. With all the time she puts in at the gym, one might expect Cisneros’ lifestyle to put a strain on her family.

“My daughter’s been going to the gym with me ever since she was 1 year old. She actually trains with me,” Cisneros said. “Now my fiancée, she had no idea what MMA was when we first met, but now that we’ve been together, she actually is my business partner. Everyone does their part.”

To promote her upcoming professional debut, Cisneros is hosting a meet and greet at Spiral Dance Bar Saturday to garner support for her upcoming fight and to give back to the community. The family-friendly event includes free pizza and other giveaways.

“Every person that comes in is going to receive a free T-shirt, and I will be collecting donations for Oak Park YMCA Kids Camp arts and crafts,” Cisneros said.

Attendees are asked to bring arts and crafts supplies to donate. Cisneros is looking forward to the event, but after Saturday, it will be complete focus on her professional debut in Grand Rapids.

“I’m going to be able to showcase what I’ve learned these past few years and why I’m going pro and why I deserve this,” Cisneros said. “That’s what I’m excited about, win or lose.”

Aurelia Cisneros
MMA fighter meet
and greet

1-5 p.m. Saturday, March 25
Spiral Dance Bar
1247 Center St., Lansing