For women’s bantamweight prospect Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke, 2012 didn’t quite go as expected… it actually went better.
Upon finding difficulties to line up fights in the amateur ranks, Duke made the move to pro, and with two wins in two fights, has become one of Invicta FC’s premier 135-pound fighters.
“I actually went pro a little bit sooner than I preferred,” said Duke. “I would have liked to have had a few more amateur fights just for the experience, but I was just having a really hard time nailing them down, so I figured if I was going to go pro, I might as well do it.”
The move paid off. Things went really well for Duke in her first two fights in the pro ranks, finishing both of her opponents.
“I never like decisions. You still win and it still feels good, but it’s not anywhere the same as getting a finish, so getting finishes in both of those (Invicta) fights I was pretty happy with it. Of course I critiqued myself and found things I wanted to do better, but yeah, I feel like I did really well.”
Duke admitted to MMAWeekly.com that she was a bit overwhelmed when she first got to Invicta, but soon thereafter found the promotion provided her the most comfort she’s ever had in her career.
“For the pro debut there was a little bit of nervousness,” she said. “The crowd or the size of the venue wasn’t what I was worried about, but it was I knew Invicta was going to be a really big deal and everyone who was fighting on that card was going to have everyone’s eyes.
“That kind of put a little bit more pressure, but after the first one (because) they take such good care of us that I go in there totally comfortable and totally relaxed that it’s like home.”
Duke’s third bout with Invicta will come as part of its April 5 card in Kansas City against debuting striking standout Miriam Nakamoto.
“I know Miriam’s got a really strong Muay Thai background and has a lot of experience there, but on the flipside, I have way more MMA fights and some Muay Thai bouts under my belt too, and the big difference is the number of grappling tournaments I’ve had,” said Duke. “So experience-wise I feel I have a pretty huge advantage and I think that’s really going to show.
“I think it’s going to be over in the first round, that’s my prediction. And if it isn’t, I’m going to grind her down and make her miserable and make her want to be out of the cage. But I really don’t feel I’m going to have any problems putting her away in the first round.”
As women’s MMA continues to its rapid expansion into the mainstream, Duke feels that she has what it takes to be right alongside some of the sport’s premier fighters and will make her mark on the biggest stages of MMA within the next couple years.
“I’d like to have five or six more fights in Invicta, but by next year, with so much happening with the UFC and The Ultimate Fighter and the way they are pushing the bantamweight division, that I know it’s coming quickly and if I keep winning and building my fan base, I’ll be in the UFC by next year,” said Duke.
“Maybe sooner, maybe not, we’ll see, but the plan is to keep winning and eventually get there.”