Women’s MMA is starting to build new stars with names like Cris “Cyborg” Santos and Sarah Kaufman. One name that has been overlooked that could dart out quickly in 2010 is Roxanne Modafferi, who made her Strikeforce debut last year and looks to make big things happen in the near future.
Stepping up on short notice for a rematch against Marloes Coenen, Modafferi fell short in her debut with the California based promotion, but bounced back quickly with a win in King of the Cage in Japan.
"KOTC was a great experience. The event was well organized and run by Ronin Productions. It was an honor to fight on the same card as veterans like Mamoru, Boku Kotetsu, Tony Imada, and others," Modafferi told MMAWeekly.com.
"Meeting, and then fighting Molly (Helsel) was great. She’s so classy outside the cage, and a tough fighter inside. I’m pleased with myself in that I had a chance to try out some technique I’ve been working on. It was a learning experience as well, and I know I have more work to do to perfect my skills."
With the introduction of a 135-pound women’s title later this month in Strikeforce, Modafferi believes that fans understand the ladies have separate weight classes just like the men, but that without proper exposure it’s hard to keep everyone in the right place.
"I think people understand that there are weight classes, they just can’t remember who is in which," Modafferi stated. "Or the promoters want a fight to happen so they try and make it happen regardless of weight classes.
“Fans keep asking me if I’m going to challenge Cyborg for the belt, or Megumi Fujii. They are both in different weight classes than me. We women often take fights out of our normal weight class just to get fights, since opportunities are so limited. I hope that’s starting to change."
This was the same scenario many lighter weight fighters faced until the WEC came along and created viable featherweight and bantamweight divisions where competitors like Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres had been forced to fight well above their chosen weights just to find a fight.
Modafferi says that she is best suited for the 135-pound weight class in the women’s division, but hasn’t received the call yet from Strikeforce about competing for them in the tournament that is expected to crown the next top contender.
"I don’t know, I hope so," Modafferi said when speaking about the tournament. "Please ask Mr. Coker and the Strikeforce matchmaker."
Nothing is set in stone for Modafferi’s next fight, but she’s got her eye out for any opportunity that is presented.
"I would like nothing more to know when my next fight is. Definitely nothing on the horizon for Japan, I regret to say," said Modafferi. "But I always train really hard every day. I’m very motivated to improve myself. And I learned from my Coenen offer that it pays to be ready just in case I get a last minute offer. I was feeling great and in shape at the time."
Modafferi’s manager, Shu Hirata, commented on her current fight situation and hopes that more chances arise for a talented fighter looking for a new home.
"I think Roxanne is a person with tremendous discipline," Hirata commented. "She is always about putting 110-percent effort on everything she does. I mean, learning Japanese language, solely from reading comic books and studying on her own, is just amazing to begin with and I believe that was possible because of her sense of discipline. She is the same way in MMA too. She is constantly improving and continues to get better every day.
"I am hoping to see her in the Strikeforce 135-pound tournament later this year, and also a couple fights in Japan as well. It seems like her next fight probably is going to be April in Japan."
Staying positive, Modafferi knows with the growth of the women’s division and now that Strikeforce has planted the flag to expand its divisions, she’s thankful for the people that support her while training and getting ready to fight.
"I’d like to thank Sprawl, ifight Athletics, Fightlinker, Full Tilt Poker, and MMA.tv for sponsoring me for fighting. Also wize-net.co.jp, who made my Japanese website. I’d like to thank my trainer, Kiuma Kunioku and also Hiroyuki Abe for their support and
coaching. Abe-san runs a great MMA gym – if you come to Japan, check out the AACC: http://www.aacc-sports.com. And I also want to thank you and fans for your continuous support, comments and encouragement."
Modafferi will hopefully get back into action in the first half of 2010.