Parenthood and the demanding world of professional fighting – Julia Avila knows the struggles, the sleepless nights, and the emotional rollercoaster all too well. Stepping away from the UFC scene since June 2021, Avila is now poised to make a comeback at UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs Tsarukyan. Her journey, marked by the challenges of motherhood and the grit of a fighter, is a testament to resilience and the unwavering support of her circle.
In addition to being a mother, Avila wears multiple hats as a gym owner and coach. While she describes motherhood as “absolutely wonderful,” she openly acknowledges the ups and downs that accompany it. Battling through a knee surgery and the aftermath of pregnancy, where she found herself north of 200 pounds, Avila faced the daunting task of returning to the bantamweight limit. Yet, with the unwavering support of her husband, Cody Shumate, and her cherished “village,” Avila overcame the uphill battle.
“It was an uphill battle for me. I have worked so hard, and my team has been so supportive. My community is always there for me, anything that I need. So, it’s been an uphill battle, but I’m not doing it alone,” Avila shared.
Prior to her hiatus, Avila showcased her prowess with a 3-1 record, including two finishes. Returning to a more wide-open bantamweight division, Avila’s motivation soared, especially when presented with the opportunity to face former champion Miesha Tate. Despite Tate’s recent challenges in the Octagon, Avila holds deep respect for the fellow mother and sees the bout as a full-circle moment in her career.
“I’m kind of fangirling. I remember growing up in the sport, watching her and being like, ‘Oh, I can do that. I can beat her, and I can beat her opponent,’ and now I get to fight her. It’s come full circle. I’m really excited. I’m still going do my (best) to beat her up, but it’s cool when your heroes become your peers. I’ve worked hard enough to be able to say that,” Avila expressed.
Confident in her stand-up exchanges and aiming to showcase improved grappling, Avila, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, dismisses any discussion of ring rust, emphasizing that both she and Tate share a similar layoff. With a sense of urgency about climbing the rankings, Avila juggles her aspirations with the responsibilities of parenthood. Her Instagram, featuring workout photos and videos with her daughter, provides a glimpse into the balancing act of being a mother, wife, and athlete.
As Avila gears up for her return in Austin, Texas, on December 2, the fighter, who considers herself a “mother and wife” before an athlete, embraces the hotly anticipated moment – her first fight with a proper crowd since her UFC debut. With friends in attendance, Avila hopes to savor the experience and deliver a performance that validates the sacrifices and hard work.
At the core of it all, Avila returns to the Octagon because fighting is what she loves. “I just love performing. I love fighting. I would fight in the parking lot if that’s where it’s being held. It’s just something that I love to do. That’s why I’m back,” she passionately declares. Julia Avila’s journey is not just about a fighter’s comeback; it’s a celebration of resilience, love, and the pursuit of one’s true passion.