‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Meet contestant Angela Magana

Angela Magana isn't just lucky to be on The Ultimate Fighter - she's lucky to be alive 

The fact that Angela Magana is even on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter is a miracle.

Magana grew up on the streets of Los Angeles until she was five years old with a mother who was addicted to heroin.  Her meals came out of garbage cans.  Her bed was whatever street or back alley they could sleep for a night.  Eventually her grandparents took custody, but Magana was already scarred with the atrocities that no child should have to witness. 

When she was 17, her mother overdosed and died.

The tragedy she experienced from such a young age forced Magana to be a self-reliant, strong individual but that didn’t mean she was destined for greatness.  It just meant she had the ability to make a better life for herself. 

Magana started to turn a corner when she discovered martial arts and found that fighting was just something that came natural to her.  It made sense considering she was literally fighting for her life every day since birth, but this was not only a mental outlet for her to work through her anger and frustration but a physical one as well.  Magana always loved athletics growing up, but fighting was the one activity that always captured her attention.

And then that was nearly taken away as well.

A belt is just superficial. I’m a champion at life. Everyday, the fact that I’m alive and that I’m living my dreams as a professional fighter despite everything I’ve been through being a single mother, lost my mother, the drugs, everything. The fact that I can still live my dreams

— Angela Magana

Magana fell down three stories of stairs and broke her back in 2007.  She then suffered two horrific auto accidents, one of which put her in a coma for several days.

"We’ve been filming (a documentary) for like 3 or 4 years and I was supposed to be fighting Carla (Esparza) and we got into an accident filming that.  The next one, I got into another accident and that time the videographer lost her thumb and I was in a coma," Magana told FOX Sports.

"I was in the hospital for 10 days and in a coma for two or three days.  It was terrible."

Possibly the craziest part about this entire chain of events is the fact that Magana came out on the other side and never felt a desire to quit fighting or not get back in the cage again.  If she would have retired the moment her accident happened in 2007, there’s not a person on Earth that would have held that against her.

Instead, Magana took it as a personal challenge to go out and find a way to get back into the cage again and get back the life she almost lost.

"It makes you hungrier for it because now I know what it’s like to not have that," Magana said. "I know what it’s like to not be able to train.  It makes you realize everything can be taken from you in the blink of an eye.  It keeps you from being complacent and makes you extremely grateful to be healthy. 

"A belt is just superficial. I’m a champion at life.  Everyday, the fact that I’m alive and that I’m living my dreams as a professional fighter despite everything I’ve been through being a single mother, lost my mother, the drugs, everything.  The fact that I can still live my dreams — I f–king made it.  I’m doing great."

Now that she’s made it past all of those personal tragedies, Magana appreciates each day she gets to wake up and head to the gym or lay out under the sun on the beaches in Thailand where she relocated to full time about a year ago. When the call came in to invite her to be a contestant on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter, Magana was overjoyed but it also just reaffirmed that battling through a rough childhood, car accidents and so many near death situations she makes a cat jealous — it was all worth it.

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"Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but whatever you go through and what’s given to you is a gift.  It’s all a gift," Magana said. "Those things gave me the gift of perseverance, of realizing my potential."

Her entire life has been one gigantic test after another, but Magana wouldn’t change a single thing no matter how much it’s cost her over the years. Because she grew up on the street, eating food other people threw away, every meal she has now is a feast.  Because she broke her back and nearly lost the ability to walk, every step she takes is like running a marathon.

Magana is the embodiment of somebody outliving their situations and now she wants to make the most of it by becoming the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion.

"I like to say that everything people would say is a burden has turned out to be a blessing because now I know what I can do without those obstacles in my way," Magana said.  "Nothing else is ever going to be worse. 

"There’s not going to be a fight where I’m going to break my back or I’m going to go into a coma.  It’s a blessing.  If I could do my life over again I would do the exact same thing because look where I am now. Without any of that I wouldn’t be where I am now."