Rosi Sexton talks women’s MMA, Ronda Rousey and Safe MMA.

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Women’s MMA has been thrust into the spotlight like never before. In the wake of UFC 157 and Ronda Rousey successfully defending her women’s bantamweight championship the male dominated world is getting a feminine edge.
However, this movement hasn’t sprung from nowhere. Women’s MMA has been building for years and one of the UK’s pioneering female athletes, Rosi Sexton took time to talk to the Lock the Cage blog.
“I’d been involved in martial arts since being a teenager. I started out in taekwon-do, and then did some traditional jiu jitsu at university. When I saw a documentary about MMA in 1999, the idea had me hooked. My main motivation was wanting to test myself, and to see whether I could do it. I wanted to find out whether what I’d learnt actually worked.”
Sexton has had an illustrious career and reached the heights of women’s MMA while competing and has a number of moments she looks back on fondly.
“Every fight brings its own challenges, and opponents are tough in different ways. I think my fight against Aisling Daly was one of the best back and forth battles I’ve had – that fight brought out some of the best in both of us.
“The first was my win over Dina van den Hooven back in 2005. That was my first fight back just seven months after Luis was born, and it was a huge challenge to prepare for. The other was my fight against Roxanne Modafferi. Cage Warriors gave me the opportunity to headline that card in London. That felt like coming home – it was the first time I’d fought in my home country in over five years, and the first time many of my friends and training partners had had the chance to see me fight.”
The world of mixed martial arts has been shrouded in controversy in recent years. Dogged constantly by rumours, or as is often the case facts, of athletes taking performing enhancing substances. This was one of the reasons Sexton called time on her illustrious career.
“I think it’s a big issue. There are certainly a lot of fighters using PEDs, and this raises a lot of questions from a safety point of view. If you have one fighter who’s using PEDs, it not only gives an unfair advantage but it also puts their opponent at risk.”
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Having said that however, if the UFC was to introduce a 125lbs women’s division Sexton wouldn’t rule out a return to action.
“I’ve always said that if the right opportunity came around, I might reconsider! But at the moment, it doesn’t make sense for me to be fighting MMA. At this point in my life, it’s more important for me to focus on my family and the people around me, and providing for them. Women’s MMA, as it stands, isn’t in a position to help me do that.
“If they (the UFC) were to announce a 125lbs division, then I’m sure I’d give it some thought – but I don’t see that happening in the near future. I’m not a big 125er, so I’m much too small to be fighting at 135!”
Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche have made history as the first women to enter the UFC octagon and Sexton has great respect for the champion but does feel there are a lot of top level women out there who can challenge Rousey.
“She’s a great athlete and competitor, and she certainly understands how to market herself. I think she’s done good things for women’s MMA. I don’t think anyone’s unbeatable, and there are definitely some interesting match ups out there for Rousey. It’ll be good to see her against a top level grappler – someone like Sara McMann, Shayna Baszler or Alexis Davis perhaps.”
“I think the sport is growing. There are a lot of very talented female fighters coming through, and I expect that to increase over the next few years as this generation of fighters reach their peak. It would definitely be good to see more female fighters and more promotion of women’s fights and women’s events, but I think that’ll naturally happen as the pool of fighters increases.”
Sexton is now involved in Safe MMA, a movement she feels is helping the perception of MMA in the UK.
“If you compare where we are now to where we were 10 years ago or even 3 or 4 years ago, we’ve come a long way. You can’t change things overnight, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction! I know there are a lot of projects going on behind the scenes to develop the sport in this country. For example SAFE MMA is a fantastic initiative that has been several years in the making – it means that now for the first time the bigger UK shows are insisting on proper medicals, and regulation of fighters. This is a huge step forwards, and will help the credibility of the sport. This is exactly the sort of work that needs to happen in order for MMA to be taken seriously by the mainstream.”

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