If there’s anything that Jan “Cuddles” Finney wants fans to take away from her last fight, against Cris “Cyborg” Santos this past June, is that she does not want people to feel sorry for her.
“I don’t want to be seen as a victim,” she told MMAWeekly.com recently. “I know people mean well, and it’s great to hear all the feedback about having such a great heart, but I want to be known also that I have good skills as a fighter.”
Finney doesn’t feel she was forced into taking a fight against a much larger opponent to get into Strikeforce.
“I don’t think they really made me do anything,” she stated. “I took that fight completely on my own, I wanted to do it. It was an opportunity and I took it.”
After such a disappointing performance against Santos, Finney has spent the last several months overhauling her game. She heads into her comeback fight this Friday against Liz Carmouche at the Strikeforce Challengers Series event in Jackson, Miss.
“I worked a lot more on stick-and-move, not just standing there making it a brawl,” said Finney. “We focused a lot on movement, wrestling, ground work, and a lot of things submission-wise.
“You might actually see me pull of a submission instead of trying to slug it out.”
Finney’s growing confidence on the ground could help her against Carmouche, who has shown aptitude when it’s come to grappling, despite being in only her first year of fighting.
When asked what she feels she can do against her opponent to gain the upper hand, Finney replied, “Everyone has a game plan and once you get hit, your game plan goes out the door.
“We’ve seen some weaknesses and habits that she does, so we’ve worked on certain things to attack when she does that.”
Despite being far and away the veteran fighter of the two, Finney is not underestimating her less experienced opponent.
“She’s a Marine, and you have to have a pretty good mindset to be a Marine. So I’m going in there looking at her being the toughest opponent I could be fighting right now, and I’ll treat her that way,” commented Finney.
Moving back down to the 135-pound weight class evens up a disadvantage Finney had when facing Santos and fighting at 145 pounds.
“I’m five-foot-seven, but I have short arm range for as tall as I am, so being at 135 kind of puts me a little more within range of everyone else,” she said. “There’s probably not going to be so much of a reach difference, so I like that.”
Should Finney pull out the win and stay healthy, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of Marloes Connen and use the move down in weight to make a title run.
“I want just to stay busy, keep fighting, and work all aspects of my game,” stated Finney. “Whatever Strikeforce puts in front of me, I’ll take it; I’m not in any hurry.
“(Marloes) has got the target on her back right now. As long as I stay busy and I keep getting more experience and improving, I’m happy, but I’d love to go for the belt.”
Having won four in a row before her tough loss in June, Finney is back to prove that she’s more than the sum of one fight, and that she’s not to be underestimated.
“I want to thank my trainers, training partners, VCMA and JG,” she concluded. “Thanks to my sponsors: Performance MMA, Nogi, Fight Chix, Jesus Didn’t Tap, Cage Walker, Intimidation and KOreps.com.
“Cuddles is back, I’m ready to bang and bring home a W.”