Monday, February 26, 2007

Modafferi speaks on "Fatal Femmes Fighting" title-winning fight

By Ray Hui

Roxanne Modafferi is an American living in Japan, where she she has been teaching English and training as a competitor in mixed martial arts for the past two years. She has racked up wins in the Japanese-based Smackgirl, G-Shooto, and GCM promotions.

Modafferi traveled back to the States Feb. 17 for the first-ever all-female cagefighting event: Fatal Femmes Fighting. She won a five-round split decision over Cassandra Rivers-Blasso to take home the Fatal Femmes Fighting lightweight belt. had a chance to speak to the champ about her win, her experiences in Japan, and more.

Q: How was your overall experience with Fatal Femmes Fighting?
A: I have never been treated so well by a fight promotion before. I had a wonderful time in the days leading up to the fight, as well as during the fight, and after. FFF took care of all my needs promptly and efficiently, in the most polite and professional manner. I was extremely impressed with the lengths they went through to provide us with training facilities, a safe environment, comfort, respect, etc. The venue and media coverage was well put together, as well.

Q: What are your thoughts on your fight against Cassandra Rivers-Blasso?
A: She was a much tougher opponent than I'd anticipated. I didn't underestimate her, however- one never knows what surprises someone's working on in the dojo, and I figured she had something. I knew she was a strong grappler for sure, and I focused my preparation around trying to overpower her with striking. I didn't expect such strength to her punches, and ground and pound. It was a pleasant surprise since I love challenges, and I was happy we could have a generally well-rounded match with both [of us] standing, grappling, and ground and pound. Her record doesn't show it, but I think she's definitely going to be one of the top contenders in our weight category.

Q: To my knowledge, this was your first fight where the rounds had a limit of 2 minutes. Being used to fighting with 5-minute rounds, did you factor that into your preparations?
A: It only made me less worried about my wind. I have great endurance anyway, so I just decided to try and go all out and not hold anything back. Actually, I lost track of the rounds, which was unfortunate. I wanted to go crazy in the last round, and was getting ready for it. My coach said, "Okay, last round!" and I thought "YEAH! Here it comes!" Then ref said, "Okay, that's all. Come to the center, please." I was confused.

Q: Your coach thought there was another round?
A: My coach lost track of the rounds too.

Q: Do you think the time limit made it more difficult for you to finish?
A: Yes, the time limit was very.... limiting! It prevented an actual struggle on the ground. The next step for California is to eliminate that rule, as it negatively affects women's MMA. I couldn't think about taking time to set up a great position and attacking. I had the mentality that if I don't just grab the arm and hurry up, I'm not going to get the submission.

Q: You’re on this season’s BodogFight. I know you can't give us details about the fight itself, but how was your experience traveling to Russia?
A: Actually, I didn't go to Russia. The fight was in Tokyo. Sssshhhhhh!

Q: Tell us about the autobiography you are currently working on…
A: I'm writing about the 10 months I spent doing a junior year exchange at a Japanese University, ICU. I could speak some Japanese, and joined the Japanese dojo Cross Point Kichijouji, where SHOOTO star Uematsu Naoya teaches. During that year, I went on countless sightseeing trips, had my first three MMA fights, and had many priceless experiences that shaped me as a person and as a fighter. I think I have a lot to share, and I'd like to think I'm a decent writer. I'm three-quarters finished, and am currently looking for an agent or publisher to help me get my book out into the market.

Q: Were you able to get by speaking limited Japanese?
A: Only being able to understand half of what people are saying can be frustrating at times, but also pretty funny. One day I went on a quest for "anti-bacterial" soap, and it wasn't in my dictionary, so I went from drug store to drug store asking for "strong soap to use after I exercise a lot." To them, my Tarzan-Japanese must have sounded something like, "Me want super-power soap for smelly body."

Q: How's your Japanese now?
A: My Japanese language ability has improved ten fold. I can usually get people to understand what I'm talking about in every day life, and also in detail about certain specific topics such as health and sports.

Q: What is your current fighting status in Japan? Are you with Shooto or Smackgirl?
A: I'm not associated with any organization in particular. I am fighting out of the Wajitsu Keishukai dojo network, though. I like fighting for Shooto, and if Smackgirl made MMA rules, I'd consider them again, as well.

Note: Smackgirl stands up the fighters after 30-seconds on the ground.

Q: You’re a great grappler and this fight was an example of your striking abilities. How do you plan on elevating your game?
A: My striking needs the most work.

Q: What’s next for you after this fight?
A: I'm not sure. I've had a bunch of opportunities and offers lately, many of which I'll probably have to refuse because of my full time job. I'm not supposed to be taking time off from work, and the times I can travel overseas to fight is due to the good graces of my wonderful and flexible boss. Basically, I'm part of a team of teachers, and if I leave, everyone has to work harder. I wish I could be a professional fighter only, but I care deeply about my job and my co-workers. My life is all about balancing my job, my training, my competitions, and my writing, with sleep coming somewhere in between. I hope to be back to Cali to defend the FFF belt in May.

Q: Any parting words for all your fans and supporters reading this?
A: One of my big goals is to promote women's MMA, and some day make it to the big times like PRIDE or UFC. Actually, if another organization can make it just as big, that's great, too. I just want to make opportunities for women to fight and be recognized by the world. Thanks for supporting women's MMA! Watch for me climbing to the top of my weight class!


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