Ever since the UFC announced that women’s fighters were coming to compete in the Octagon, the bouts that have taken place in the division have all felt like something special was happening.
For years and years, UFC president Dana White said that women’s fighting just wasn’t evolved yet, with enough stars to promote an entire division in his organization. White gladly ate his words with the emergence of current women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and now with the entire division thriving, it appears women’s MMA is here to stay in the UFC.
From Rousey’s debut against Liz Carmouche, to the epic back and forth battle between Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate, to the debut of former Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann—the women have arrived in a big, big way.
UFC 161 fighter Alexis Davis has been watching this show the entire time because she was one of the first fighters the promotion signed after entering the women’s MMA fray. She was front and center for Rousey’s debut win while headlining a pay-per-view card, and this weekend she will be part of the first international UFC event with women on the main card.
As much as the spotlight has been shone down on the women’s fighters, Davis refuses to look at her upcoming bout against Rosi Sexton as anything more than just another trip to the cage.
“This just feels like another fight,” Davis told Bleacher Report, an official MMAWeekly.com content partner. “Even when they sent us out to watch (Ronda) Rousey and (Liz) Carmouche, and we got to go behind the scenes, I felt like I was back at Strikeforce. It could be different by the time I get there, but I don’t think the nerves will get to me quite as much.”
The attention and the reception of women’s fighting in the UFC has been nothing less than positive. Each bout has almost been treated like a main event of its own, and there always seems to be something extra on the line every time a woman steps foot in the Octagon.
There was some worry when White said that the promotion was getting into women’s MMA solely because of Rousey’s star power and skill in the cage, that the other fighters would basically act as a feeder system into her title fights. Davis says the hype surrounding women’s MMA in the UFC has been nothing less than fantastic, and it hasn’t circled around only one fighter thus far.
“It seems like the norm now. It’s not like oh my god women are on the card! Now, the UFC’s done a really good job of pushing it,” Davis said. “Now, every couple cards they are going to have a women’s fight. So I don’t think there’s quite as much pressure as there was before. We’re great fighters and we just have to do our thing. Whether we’re fighting for the UFC or we’re fighting for Invicta, or an amateur fight, we put on great fights regardless.”
“A lot of us were worried that it was going to be the Ronda show, and it hasn’t. They push all of their fighters, anyone who has a fight coming up. Like sending me out to the press conference, that was a great experience for me to get my name out there and just exposing women’s fighters. It’s kind of exploded these last few months.”
For her upcoming fight at UFC 161, Davis will be on the main card when she takes on Sexton, and while there’s no title shot on the line, she’s approaching this as a chance for the spotlight to fall on her shoulders.
Since losing to Sarah Kaufman in one of the best fights of 2012, Davis has turned into a machine submitting her last two opponents in impressive fashion. She’s hitting her stride at the exact right time, and title shot or not, she’s out to prove she’s the biggest threat to Rousey’s title.
“I’m happy where I am. I may not be fighting for the title next, but I’ve just got to keep going on the path that I’m on and I’m sure I’ll get there,” Davis said. “It’s a great opportunity, and there are so many women who are dying to be in the position I’m in so I’m just going to kind of focus on the fight at hand, and show them why I should be the No. 1 contender.
“Rousey is at the top of the food chain. It’s going to happen eventually. She’s still new, still new in the UFC, so eventually it’s going to happen that someone’s going to dethrone her. Obviously, I’d love to have that opportunity.”
Davis knows that beating Sexton is just the first step towards a title shot. With Rousey locked up filming The Ultimate Fighter with her next bout scheduled against Miesha Tate likely to take place in December, the women’s bantamweight title won’t be defended again until at least a few months into 2014.
The pedigree is there, however, for Davis to be the fighter the UFC needs to truly challenge Rousey in the cage. Davis is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with serious ground credentials to not only stop Rousey’s signature armbar attack, but possibly put the champion away with a submission of her own.
The time waiting for a title shot just means Davis has the chance to prepare, get better and become the fighter most poised to rip that belt away from Rousey’s waist.
“The longer people wait to fight me,” Davis commented, “the worse it’s going to be.”
Check out more UFC coverage from official MMAWeekly.com content partner Bleacher Report and Damon Martin.