The mixed martial arts world has enjoyed tremendous growth since the pivotal point when Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, in their brief 15-minute fight on the inaugural The Ultimate Fighter finale in 2005, launched the sport into the public consciousness.
Actually, most of that growth was on the men’s side of the sport. The women, however, are just now starting to hit the white-hot spotlight of the world stage. Women’s mixed martial arts has been around, but it has languished in the shadow of the men who rose to prominence with the growth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The women in the sport, however, now are starting to take center stage with the UFC finally instituting a women’s division and featuring them as fighters and coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate.
One woman that has toiled for years in near anonymity as a mixed martial artist is Rosi Sexton, a French-born Brit that will make her second Octagon appearance at UFC Fight Night 30 on Oct. 26 in her hometown of Manchester, England.
It’s been a long and winding road for Sexton, who competes in the sport out of desire, not necessity. Sexton holds a degree in mathematics, a PhD in theoretical computer science, and has another degree and currently practices in osteopathy.
She’s never fought because she had no other options. Sexton fought because she wanted to, because she wanted to challenger herself and see how well she could apply the martial arts that she put so much time and effort into learning.
Like any athlete, Sexton has gotten better and better over time, initially toiling in the shadows, since the women’s side of the sport was barely a blip on the radar of most people. But now that she is in the UFC’s limelight, Sexton is eager to prove what type of fighter she is today, since all those fights where she toiled in darkness are now popping into view, courtesy of modern technologies like YouTube.
“I've been around in this sport for a good while. My first professional fight was back in 2002. For a lot of that time, I didn't really have much of a clue what I was doing,” Sexton recently wrote on her Facebook page.
“It's taken time – years of time, in the gym, day in, day out over more than a decade for me to get to where I am.”
Those fights that have crept out of the shadows and into the light, giving rise to criticism, are a source of aggravation that Sexton hopes to quell when she faces Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night 30.
“Now, with the Internet, people can watch fights from years ago and judge them by today's standards,” she continued. “Once the video is on YouTube, there's no difference between seven days and seven years. I'm not going to make excuses for any of those performances – they speak for themselves. But that's the fighter I was then, not the fighter I am now.
“I think my last four fights since I've been training at Next Generation (Sally Krumdiack, Roxanne Modafferi, Aisling Daly and Alexis Davis) show a fairer reflection of where I am now than anything that went before.”
That might sound like there is a lot of criticism being dropped on Sexton’s shoulders, but truth be told, there is little to criticize. Her overall record, which spans back to May of 2002 is 13-3 as a professional fighter. Her losses during that time? Gina Carano, Zoila Frausto-Gurgel, and Alexis Davis, three of the top female fighters in the world.
Sexton holds victories over the likes of Aisling Daly, Roxanne Modafferi, Sally Krumdiack, Debi Purcell, and Carina Damm, amongst others.
Victories are, of course, the easiest measure of success, but coming from the scholarly background that she does, and having fought during the leanest years of the sport, Sexton doesn’t measure her career solely by wins and losses.
And that’s her mindset heading into the fight with Andrade.
“This is my opportunity to show the world the fighter I've become,” said Sexton. “More important to me than winning or losing is that it's a performance I can be proud of. I want this to be the first fight that people think of when my name is mentioned, for the right reasons.
“I want it to do justice to the people around me who have put so much time and effort into making me what I am. If I can do that, I'm confident the result will take care of itself.”
(Photo courtesy of CageWarriors)