Red Dela Cruz: Meet the 9-5 office worker who moonlights as a famous ring girl

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Red Dela Cruz will largely remain anonymous as she goes about her day job at a data company in the suburbs of Sydney this week. 

Last Friday night, however, she had the world at her feet.

It’s a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015 – the switching between nights where millions follow her every move to days where her feet are planted firmly on terra firma.

Such is Dela Cruz’s popularity around the region – and beyond, with 2.5million Facebook followers – that she was named Ring Girl of the Year at the inaugural Asia MMA Awards in Hong Kong on September 14.

Today she’s back home, and she’s back to the nine to five.

Red Dela Cruz will largely remain anonymous as she goes about her day job at a data company in the suburbs of Sydney this week

Red Dela Cruz will largely remain anonymous as she goes about her day job at a data company in the suburbs of Sydney this week

Red Dela Cruz will largely remain anonymous as she goes about her day job at a data company in the suburbs of Sydney this week

It's a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015

It's a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015

It's a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015

It's a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015

It’s a life of extremes the 25-year-old has become accustomed to, ever since she won the first UFC Octagon Girl Search in Asia back in 2015

'When I am working I stay quiet, no make-up, work hard,' Dela Cruz told Daily Mail Australia

'When I am working I stay quiet, no make-up, work hard,' Dela Cruz told Daily Mail Australia

‘When I am working I stay quiet, no make-up, work hard,’ Dela Cruz told Daily Mail Australia

‘When I am working I stay quiet, no make-up, work hard,’ Dela Cruz told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I get to live these two very different lives and I know how lucky I am. Back home in Sydney I can live really quiet, normal. Then with the UFC it’s bright lights and very exciting.

‘Growing up in the Philippines my mum told me she had dreamed of being a model or a beauty queen. Now, I am living that dream. I followed this path for myself but also to make her proud. 

‘Now, when young girls ask me for advice, I tell them dream of the impossible. It might just happen.’

'I get to live these two very different lives and I know how lucky I am. Back home in Sydney I can live really quiet, normal. Then with the UFC it's bright lights and very exciting,' she said

'I get to live these two very different lives and I know how lucky I am. Back home in Sydney I can live really quiet, normal. Then with the UFC it's bright lights and very exciting,' she said

‘I get to live these two very different lives and I know how lucky I am. Back home in Sydney I can live really quiet, normal. Then with the UFC it’s bright lights and very exciting,’ she said

Dela Cruz's workmates at the Sydney data company can hardly believe the tales of her travels and how a fellow workmate is also a global superstar

Dela Cruz's workmates at the Sydney data company can hardly believe the tales of her travels and how a fellow workmate is also a global superstar

'They think it is an awesome job,' she said

'They think it is an awesome job,' she said

Dela Cruz’s workmates at the Sydney data company can hardly believe the tales of her travels and how a fellow workmate is also a global superstar

Dela Cruz’s workmates at the Sydney data company can hardly believe the tales of her travels and how a fellow workmate is also a global superstar. 

‘They think it is an awesome job,’ she said.

 Sometimes I can’t barely believe it but I have such a great life.

‘You get to travel the world, meet new people and big stars as well.’

It’s also a world away for her upbringing.

Dela Cruz grew up in Iba, capital of the Zambales province in the Philippines, before heading to Manila to study for a degree in tourism management. 

While living in the Philippine capital she also picked up part-time modelling work – enough to see her regularly named among FHM magazine’s lists of the world’s sexiest women – before her fitness trainer gave her the nod about auditions for the UFC.

Dela Cruz grew up in Iba, capital of the Zambales province in the Philippines, before heading to Manila to study for a degree in tourism management

Dela Cruz grew up in Iba, capital of the Zambales province in the Philippines, before heading to Manila to study for a degree in tourism management

Dela Cruz grew up in Iba, capital of the Zambales province in the Philippines, before heading to Manila to study for a degree in tourism management

'I was already a huge UFC fan before and of UFC rings girls such as Arianny Celeste, who is such a huge superstar,' Dela Cruz said

'I was already a huge UFC fan before and of UFC rings girls such as Arianny Celeste, who is such a huge superstar,' Dela Cruz said

‘I was already a huge UFC fan before and of UFC rings girls such as Arianny Celeste, who is such a huge superstar,’ Dela Cruz said

Dela Cruz admits to being wary when the UFC announced it was holding its first search for Octagon girls in the region, a move prompted by the rising global popularity of mixed martial arts and by the inroads the Las Vegas-based organisation has started to make across the Asia Pacific.

‘I was already a huge UFC fan before and of UFC rings girls such as Arianny Celeste, who is such a huge superstar,’ Dela Cruz said. 

‘There were just so many applications that I never really thought I was a chance. But I made it to the top 20, then the top 10, then the top five. My head was spinning but when it went then to a fans vote I won, and here I am. 

‘Sometimes I can’t barely believe it but I have such a great life.’

'Sometimes I can't barely believe it but I have such a great life,' she said

'Sometimes I can't barely believe it but I have such a great life,' she said

‘Sometimes I can’t barely believe it but I have such a great life,’ she said

Contract secured, Dela Cruz quickly built up a loyal fanbase, and a social media presence that allows her millions of followers to travel with her across the globe as her career with the UFC develops. 

Anyone who has been beside the UFC Octagon during one of the organisation’s recent fight cards – such as the UFC 221 event held in Perth back in February – can attest to Dela Cruz’s popularity. When she appears, the place goes nuts.

‘At first when I got up there it was nerve-wracking,’ she said. 

‘There are just so many people and you can get nervous under the bright lights. But the buzz is unbelievable. 

It was Dela Cruz's heart that led her to Australia two and a half years ago – to be with partner Sydney businessman Joey Bacic, 'the love of my life'

It was Dela Cruz's heart that led her to Australia two and a half years ago – to be with partner Sydney businessman Joey Bacic, 'the love of my life'

It was Dela Cruz’s heart that led her to Australia two and a half years ago – to be with partner Sydney businessman Joey Bacic, ‘the love of my life’

'When I get fan mail from young girls asking me for advice I say "work towards your goals, never give up, and always keep your feet on the ground",' she said

'When I get fan mail from young girls asking me for advice I say "work towards your goals, never give up, and always keep your feet on the ground",' she said

‘When I get fan mail from young girls asking me for advice I say “work towards your goals, never give up, and always keep your feet on the ground”,’ she said

‘Hearing people call out to you and just being part of the whole show is so much fun. They go mad when I wave or blow kisses – even though I can’t really see them because of the lights. But I feel like a superstar.’

It was Dela Cruz’s heart that led her to Australia two and a half years ago – to be with partner Sydney businessman Joey Bacic, ‘the love of my life’.

I feel like a superstar. 

And she has carved a life for herself far away from the cage, working full-time and looking into returning to school to study finance.

‘Moving to Australia was always a dream for me,’ Dela Cruz said. 

‘There are so many more opportunities. The lifestyle in Australia suits me as it is so laid back, the people are so friendly. I think it’s important in life that you work hard to chase your dreams. 

‘When I get fan mail from young girls asking me for advice I say “work towards your goals, never give up, and always keep your feet on the ground”.’




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