It was a week after the first women’s fight in UFC history that Rosi Sexton‘s coach asked her what she was up to these days.
What he meant was, did she want to put on 10 pounds and try to fight in the octagon?
“I thought, OK,” Sexton (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) with a tone of mock skepticism. “We could run with it.”
That’s just what said manager did. A call to UFC matchmakers led to a call in April with an invite to compete at UFC 161 against Alexis Davis (13-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC). After 11 years of fighting on the regional circuit and just beneath the biggest fight promotion on the planet, Sexton had arrived.
The osteopath, sports therapist and sometime-writer is now booked on the pay-per-view main card of the event, which takes place Saturday at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ontario.
“It’s all happened really quickly,” she said. “I didn’t see this one coming until it happened. It was an opportunity I didn’t think I’d ever have. It’s something I’ve dreamt of ever since I started competing in MMA. My first fight was back in 2002, over 10 years ago, and all the time I’ve been competing. I’d kind of given up hope that it was going to happen in time for me.”
What she meant was, without a women’s bantamweight division, she would continue to compete, but she would never reach her goal. She had nearly retired from the sport when her previous fight was canceled.
“It was given that we were going to jump at [the UFC],” said Sexton, who’s won her past three fights.
Even if it meant fighting up in weight, where she called her results “mixed.” In 2005, she won the Cage Warriors 132-pound title only to get knocked out by a far bigger Gina Carano in her next outing.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” Sexton said. “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to some very smart people about the strength and conditioning side of things and nutrition, and adding a little bit of weight so I’m going to be a good size for the weight class.
“I’m pretty comfortable fighting people that are bigger than me. Most of my training partners are a little bit taller and heavier, so it’s not something that I’m unfamiliar with. And I think I’m coming in reasonably close to the weight class, but I think that also gives me the advantage because I’m not cutting a large amount of weight. I’m not going to be drained from sitting in a sauna the day before the fight.”
Like Davis, who’s won her past two outings, Sexton is known for her grappling-heavy approach to the fight, so some extra gas could come in handy if the two tussle on the mat for multiple rounds.
A yearlong layoff on her resume is not something she expects to be a factor. This past October, a scheduled bout at Cage Warriors was called off a few weeks before the fight when her opponent, now-UFC fighter Sheila Gaff, withdrew due to illness. With the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency conducting tests prior to the event, Sexton hinted that Gaff was using performance-enhancers.
“Here’s my bottom line,” Sexton wrote on Twitter. “Female MMA has a drug problem. I’m not interested in taking steroids. Until something changes, I’m out!”
Steroids remain a concern for Sexton, of course, but she’s long moved past any feelings of anger. There are bigger things to worry about, like winning the UFC bantamweight title.
And with so many other skills at her disposal, you might think her opportunity in the UFC would serve as one last push toward her ultimate goal before she focuses on other things.
She hasn’t had that talk with her coach just yet.
“I’m absolutely not looking past the next fight,” she said. “And after that, we’ll make a decision. It will depend on how things go down.”
For the latest on UFC 161, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.