Nickname: Mad Dog
Born: Durban, South Africa
Fighting Out Of: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
EFC Women’s Bantamweight World Champion
EFC Women’s Flyweight World Champion
Amanda “Mad Dog” Lino is a South African pioneer of women’s MMA and the first ever women’s two-division champion in EFC, but her entry into the fight game was certainly not a typical one.
A softball player in High School, Lino did not discover martial arts until 2011. The future champion was living in Johannesburg at the time, but upon moving back home she went to the gym on her brother’s invitation. It was strictly for fitness purposes and just to get back into shape.
It would not take long, though, before Lino became hooked, and her initial steps toward fighting professionally soon followed.
Lino fell in love with martial arts rather quickly and having gotten into her fair share of street fights while getting into trouble in her formative years, her natural ability as a brawler lent itself nicely to the early stages of her training. She just needed to learn technique in order to harness the raw talent she possessed and shape it into a refined skill, which didn’t take long to master.
But just two months into training, Lino lost her father suddenly to a motorcycle accident. She refers to that time of her life, which she doesn’t talk about very often, as a breaking point because she had reached a crossroads. The pain from the loss of her father could have stopped her in her tracks and sent her in a downward spiral. But it lit a fire under her instead, propelling her onward and becoming a driving force in her life.
Turning anything negative into a positive became the mantra, a very powerful one at that, and her burgeoning MMA career served as a vessel of positivity, which flowed throughout her entire life.
The Durban native, 4-1 with three knockouts, now trains at KO Fighting Fitness under Rodney van Der Vulgt. Lino and van Der Vulgt are co-owners of the gym, which has locations in Ballito and Umhlanga. Back in 2013 before her first amateur fight, Lino, now a blue belt in Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, managed a night club in Ballito called Shakers. Her newfound skills came in handy one late night while closing up, which led to her choking out an unruly drunken man, who was assaulting other patrons. And her ability to execute a practical application of Jiu-Jitsu under those circumstances, served as proof she was truly advancing as a martial artist.
Lino stepped into the cage for the very first time in 2014, and she went on an absolute tear, winning amateur titles in African Fight League and the IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada en route to an unblemished 6-0 record as an amateur. After crushing all her competition on the amateur scene, Lino began her pro career in April 2015 at EFC 38, winning her debut by TKO over Stephanie Qualle.
In just her fourth fight in June 2017, Lino submitted Jacqueline Trosee Feddersen at EFC 60 to capture the EFC flyweight title, making history as the first ever EFC women’s champion. And in her very next fight at EFC 70 in May 2018, she made history once more by knocking out Rizlen Zouak in the first round to win the EFC bantamweight strap, cementing herself as the first ever EFC women’s two-division champion.
Known for her aggressive fighting style, Lino is an admirer of fellow aggressive fighters like women’s MMA legend Cris “Cyborg” Justino and UFC women’s bantamweight/featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Lino has a lot in common with Nunes, who like her, is a double champion as well as an openly gay fighter and an empowering force for gay women and athletes around the globe.
Outside of the cage, the double champ is in the process of launching a sports clothing line, and wishes to launch her own foundation, which will teach self-defence to the unfortunate in South Africa, who are unable to afford martial arts lessons.
“Mad Dog” will soon be let off her leash once again to defend both of her EFC titles. Having already made an indelible imprint in her first four years as a pro, the South African MMA trailblazer is just getting warmed up. So, expect to hear her name aplenty in the near future as she continues making history with her record-setting and barrier-breaking ways. All while piling on accolades to her already incredible fighting resume.
Why I Fight:
“That is such a good question! Because who really knows why they fight? I can sit here and go, ‘Why do we fall in love with the person we fall in love with?’, you have no idea, you just know that you love that person. I don’t fight for a reason. I fight because I love it and when you love something you are going to embrace it. You know that you have the talent for it, and you have the drive for it and the skills. You put everything you have in it, but you can’t explain the reason behind it.”