Jodie Esquibel ‘Feels Good’ About Invicta FC 18 Match-Up Against Unbeaten Alexa Grasso

After over a year off from fighting it appeared as if atomweight stalwart Jodie Esquibel would be making her return to MMA at Invicta FC 15 this past January against Angela Hill, but other opportunities arose and she ended up taking her talents elsewhere.

“Quite frankly the reason why that fight didn’t happen was because I went to compete to get into The Ultimate Fighter house,” Esquibel told MMAWeekly.com. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t let go. I definitely wanted to get back in there, but everything happens for a reason.

“I learned a lot (from TUF). I feel like I’m still learning from it. It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about myself as a fighter, where my career should be or is supposed to be, where my career is. It was an absolute great experience and I’m so thankful for that.”

Having been so long since she’s had an official fight, Esquibel believes herself to be a different fighter now than when she was last in the Invicta cage in November of 2014.

“I had a lot of room to grow and I feel like I took those opportunities to do so,” she said. “If you’re not reinventing yourself often, I think things get stale. I didn’t want to be that fighter. I feel like with every experience that I’ve had and everything I’ve been doing, I’ve definitely reinvented myself.”

Esquibel (5-1) will have no easy task in her return at Invicta FC 18 on Friday in Kansas City, Mo., when she takes on undefeated prospect Alexa Grasso (7-0) in the evening’s 115-pound main event.

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“I know on paper it’s a great match-up,” Esquibel said. “I know that (Grasso is) a great competitor. To get the win I feel like it’s a clear game plan and I feel good about it. I’ve had a great fight camp. I’m 100% healthy. I know that’s super-cliché, and every fighter is going to say it, but I feel the best I’ve ever been.

“Coming off the TUF house, I’m hungriest than I’ve ever been, and this fight came at the right time for me. Everything lined up really nice for me and I’m excited about that.”

In getting her first chance to headline a major card, Esquibel feels perfectly comfortable in the position that she’s in, knowing she has the ability to deliver an exciting bout.

“I know every fight I’m going to be in is going to be an exciting fight, potentially Fight of the Night, and it doesn’t add any pressure whether it’s the first or second fight of the night or the main event,” she said. “That’s the way it’s going to be and that’s the way I fight.

“I don’t feel like I’m changing anything or feeling extra pressure. We’re both great athletes, and that sells itself, so it’s not extra pressure but more so an opportunity and an honor.”

Though she has the potential to earn a title shot with a win on July 29, Esquibel is not one to count her chickens before they hatch.

“I already was scheduled to fight (Angela) Hill, so if that fight comes up again, that’s great too,” said Esquibel. “We’ll just see. But right now isn’t on after this fight, it’s on this fight, and that’s where I’ll stay focused. We’ll deal with (what comes after) the win after that.”

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