clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Roxanne Modafferi says earning her place on TUF 18 ‘changed my career’

Esther Lin, Invicta FC

It may seem as though Roxanne Modafferi’s good fortune began with her first fight in Invicta FC in 2014, when she defeated Tara LaRosa. Since that time she’s gone 4-1, rocketed herself into contention as a flyweight.

Yet her turnaround after losing six straight fights coincides with her move to Las Vegas, which itself was galvanized by her earning a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 18 a few years back. The 33-year old Modafferi, considered one of the pioneer’s in women’s MMA with a professional resume that stretches back to 2003, believes that her stint on TUF was the saving grace of her career.

Even if she did lose the only official fight she had with the promotion, dropping a decision against Raquel Pennington in the finale.

"Yeah, it really changed my life," she told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. "And I knew that win to get in the house [against Valerie Letourneau] was the most important win of my career I think."

Modafferi (19-12) said came to the realization that she had overstayed her welcome living in Japan.

"Yeah, I think so," she said. "But I’d have had no way of knowing that until I came to The Ultimate Fighter. So how it happened is how it was meant to happen. If I’d have came back, I might gave joined another gym, but it just so happened that it fell into place.

Life has changed for "The Happy Warrior." Not only has she rediscovered her winning ways training at Syndicate in Las Vegas, she has penned a self-help book called How to Be Positive: Mental Training, which she says came about when she began embracing her nickname.

"Part of embracing ‘The Happy Warrior,’ one thing I really love about being a public figure is that people will hear my words and listen to me and I feel like it’s part of my mission in life to spread positivity to everybody who can listen," she said on the show. "So, what better way than write a book, and really help people think more positively."

Modafferi said she is still waiting to finalize her next fight, but that it’s close. She is coming off of a split-decision victory over DeAnna Bennett at Invicta FC 16 in March, and could be in line for at title shot against Barb Honchak, who hasn’t fought since Nov. 2014. With Honchak on the sidelines for so long, Modafferi said she considers Jennifer Maia the true Invicta FC flyweight champion.

Whoever she faces, Modafferi credited her career resurgence to her new surroundings. 

"The coaches here at Syndicate, especially John Wood, have this ability to find what I’m good at and kind of build what they want me to learn around that," she said. "So like, I’m not such a good natural striker, but he’s been able to add techniques to my striking game that have helped me elevate my striking game, stay awkward. Just the way he’s built stuff around me, and the way he explains things is great. I have a great team, a lot of lightweight fighters here. Our team’s growing, even now we have a bunch of females who enjoy the gym. Really good female team."

Modafferi has fought for more than a decade, and she’s been able to avoid a ton of damage despite standing in against some of the toughest women in the sport. She has victories over Marloes Coenen, Megumi Yabushita and way back in the day, a pair of victories over Jennifer Howe.

During her six-fight skid when had been living and training in Japan. She said she contemplated calling it quits. 

"There was a point when I still was in Japan that I thought maybe I was going to retire soon, because my body’s always hurting and I feel beat up, and this really sucks," she said. "But then I came to Vegas and I found like a great chiropractor and masseuse."

Now going 4-1 her last five fights, she said she feels better now than she has in a long time. And, so long as her health holds up, she’s not looking to retire anytime soon.

"Recently I’ve been feeling good and in shape," she said. "And, I don’t know man, as long as my body will hold up, and it’s looking pretty good right now…I mean, not looking good, but I feel pretty good. I’ve had a lot of wars, but I’ve never really gotten smashed and bloodied and horribly crushed."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting