FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- From growing up in the South Valley to chasing a professional career in combat sports, Marion Reneau's true passion has always been fighting.
"I lived in the East side of Porterville," she said. "It's a rougher side of Porterville and I fought all the time."
After graduating from college, Reneau became a teacher and mom but didn't really take fighting seriously until the UFC began televising female bouts.
She saw it as an opportunity to save money for her son's college tuition.
"I know how to fight but if they're going to pay me to fight and I'm not going to get arrested, that's a bonus," she said.
That set Reneau on a journey that took her all the way up the UFC ladder and an eventual top 6 world ranking.
She retired from the sport last year at the age of 44 -- she also left her high school teaching job to focus on the Visalia gym she owns with her husband --Trifecta.
"Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to our wrestling classes, our kid classes are full," she said. "We also have a cardio kickboxing class and it's completely full. We have the largest women's class in Visalia basically."
Reneau says she received the motivation she needed to take the leap and open the gym following a conversation with the late Kobe Bryant.
"Kobe said something that really stuck with me," she said. "He's like, 'What is it that you plan on doing when you're done fighting? Are you going back to your 9 to 5 job? Are you retiring at 65? What are you going to do? Are you investing your money like you should?' He just had a bunch of knowledge but that is what stuck with me."
Following seven years in the UFC, a teaching career and being a mom, Reneau understands the importance of leading by example and that's why she also spends her time visiting high schools and speaking to kids.
"Getting the opportunity to go out and talk to these kids, tell them my story and tell them what motivated me and what drove me," she said.
Reneau says she has completely shut the door on her professional MMA career but she still trains six days a week and is always ready to help train the next generation of fighters.
"If you want to fight, as long as you are committed, I need to see you're committed," she said. "If you want to fight, I'll help you train. I'll help you get to where you want to be."
Good Sports: Porterville native, former UFC fighter opens gym in Visalia
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