There aren’t many mainstream MMA fans who know about the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, but the organization has served as a fantastic feeder system for young amateur MMA prospects, who eventually plan to transition to a professional MMA career. One of the most high-profile fighters the organization has produced is two-time IMMAF World Champion Jose “Shorty” Torres.
Torres turned pro in 2016 and is now 10-1-1. He is a veteran of the UFC and Titan FC, and currently sits near the top of BRAVE CF’s flyweight division. He is one of only two fighters to have defeated Jarred Brooks, the current number one strawweight in the ONE Championship.
Anthony Bivins never fought for IMMAF, as the organization was beyond his time in the cage. But, the former fighter, who also has black belts in Kempo karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and trained in Muay Thai with UFC veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig, has built a team of prospects from his own gym, House of Moons, in Orangevale, California. It’s just outside of Sacramento. He has one of the best pankration teams in the country, and his eldest daughter, Lea “First Moon” Bivins, led the way. In fact, she fought in the IMMAF, taking silver at the 2019 IMMAF World Youth Championships. She also has a wealth of competitive wrestling and jiu-jitsu experience, where she won multiple championships.
“We also have one of the biggest wrestling teams and trainers in the country right now at Swamp Monsters Wrestling,” First Moon told Combat Press. “We’re just a little hole-in-the-wall gymnasium. We just got here and we grind every day, three to four times a day – different mixed martial arts practices and that sort of thing.
“I loved growing up in Sacramento and had a lot of friends here. I have a younger brother, we’re about four years apart, so I always had someone to play with. I used to always playing Barbies with me, and then, in return, I had to play Transformers. I have a younger sister too. She’s about six years old.
“My dad was actually a professional fighter, so I used to go to practices with him when I was about four years old. He fought for a few years professionally and then he got into the training aspect. I was able to having him for most of my life as a coach. I’ve had other coaches as well, but I love martial arts and fighting a lot. I feel like that’s really something something different. You don’t see a lot of women doing it in sports, so it’s really fun.
Bivins was supposed to make her amateur MMA debut in November 2021, but the fight was canceled. She previously took a year out of competition to complete her certificate in medical coding and billing, which is her downside if fights don’t work out, but she is focused on a career in MMA. So far, 2022 has proven to be a pivotal year for his future.
Earlier this year, Bivins found out she was in the process of being signed to the ONE Championship atomweight division. The 19-year-old was hoping something big was on the horizon, but making her professional debut with ONE wasn’t exactly what she expected.
“It came out of nowhere,” the Californian said. “I was still training and actively training two to three times a day, but yeah, the contract definitely came out of nowhere. My dad just woke me up one morning and said, ‘You’ll never guess who I spoke to today.’ And I was like, ‘No way.’ When they told me of course I was going to take the offer. Who wouldn’t? It’s one of the biggest martial arts platforms in the world, and they also have an atomic weight division I know a lot of martial arts organizations don’t have that many atomic weights. We have multiple champions and competitors in the ONE atomic weight. [division].”
A ONE contract is a huge step forward for the aspiring professional fighter. Bivins didn’t always think this would be her career path, but it’s one she’s been training for since she was practically a toddler.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be like a doctor in healthcare, so I definitely pursued my passions when I went to school for my medical coding and billing,” Bivins admitted. “I was always around the gym and my dad. A bunch of other family members also train, so I knew I would always be in the gym, and even hoping to be signed pro. I had a pretty typical childhood. My brother and I played all the time – on the mats, off the mats. We always went camping and a lot of family vacations. My parents definitely gave me a great childhood.
Bivins and his family still live under the same roof, and most of his training takes place at his family’s gym. However, she also had the opportunity to train with United MMA and Ken Lee’s unofficial ONE Championship First Family. Lee’s son Christian is the former ONE lightweight MMA champion, and his daughter Angela is the promotion’s current MMA atomweight titleholder. Their younger sister Victoria is also 3-0 as a pro in ONE. Bivins, like Victoria, would like to relaunch his career quickly over the next 12 months.
“I would prefer to have at least two more fights before the end of the year,” Bivins said. “I would really like to train in Hawaii with the Lees, and also travel and be able to train at different gyms, see different fighters and that kind of stuff – get a little bit of cross-training in.”
Both the Lee family and the Bivins family have had a lot of exposure in the world of youth pankration. Both families competed and trained fighters to compete at a young age.
“I grew up watching Angela’s and Christian’s matches,” says Bivins. “My dad always showed me their pankration fights, and they were definitely an inspiration to my career. I didn’t really know them until Victoria’s professional debut. I actually got to go there down there and training with them for this fight camp, and we really got to know each other in 2019 at the IMMAF World Championships – me, Victoria, their little brother Adrian and some of the other United teammates. than me, so that’s how I think we met.
“I’m always welcome to go there. I know that if they want to come and train with us, they are more than welcome.
On Friday, July 22, Bivins made his professional MMA debut at ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash. She won’t have a walk in the park either, as she will face Indian Zeba Bano. Bano, on paper, is 1-1 as a pro, but, like Bivins, she has wrestling experience and a few MMA exhibition fights under her belt. She made her ONE debut in May, when she faced Nat “Wondergirl” Jaroonsak, but lost that fight via submission in the first round. She’ll come back hungry against Bivins, but the California native has no intention of giving up on her own ONE debut.
“A championship should expect an exciting fighter from me,” Bivins said. “This upcoming fight, I plan to do some exciting stuff. I don’t like giving my game plan too much to the media, but yeah, just an exciting fighter. I consider myself a really exciting fighter, and I think they think so too.
“I’m expecting an amazing match, honestly. I feel like one gave me a really good match stylistically, so I accept that they’re expecting a really exciting fight. I also expect me to do great things.
For a young woman who was born and raised in the gym, there isn’t much time for life off the mats, but Bivins is still a teenager, so she still makes time for herself.
“Outside of practice right now I’m definitely like a water girl, California through and through,” Bivins explained. “I love going to the lake, the ocean, that sort of thing. I recently had a puppy, eight months ago, so I’m definitely a puppy mom and in full puppy-mom mode. My dog is extremely spoiled. When we train with the team, we go out and do cardio, my dog comes over, and I let him off the leash, and he thinks he’s on the fight team. So he come run with us.
Bivins’ pup, Buddha, is a corgi-pitbull mix with other breeds likely mixed in there. He’s smaller than she hoped, but he’s all about training at a young age, just like his mom.
This Friday, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and broadcast for free on the ONE website, Bivins will take his first step as a pro, and what could be better than ONE’s patented Circle? She and Bano will open the main event card at 6 a.m. ET, and her wait is simple.
“I have a prediction with my hand up, obviously,” Bivins said. “I’m sure you hear a lot of fighters say that, but, like I said earlier, just an exciting fight. I know this is the first fight of the night, so I want to start the show off with a bang and show everyone why I was signed and signed professionally at 19.