Most young women grow up with a desire to standout. A desire to be different. This desire, more times than not, leads them down the path of cheerleading, modeling, or even some type of sport. As we’ve seen over the years, many female athletes cling to soccer, softball, or even basketball. However, one would certainly not lean towards the sport of mixed martial arts.
That is, however, unless your name is Alexis Davis.
Davis (11-5), a former Strikeforce standout, developed a love for a sport that many females cannot relate to. Instead of gathering her pom-poms and heading to cheerleading practice, Davis strapped on her gloves and was out the door to train jiu-jitsu and spar at a local gym. Not your typical girl, to say the least.
“My whole love for the sport really kind of started once I found an interest in jiu-jitsu,” Davis told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “The whole style really interested me, and I knew I had to give it a shot.”
“From there, I got into sparring, and that’s when I became hooked. I remember sparring one night and saying, ‘Man, I really love this.’ I never really had a competitive edge growing up as a kid. It’s just something I never had,” admitted Davis. ”But once I started training jiu-jitsu and sparring, everything changed.”
Davis was now hooked to, at the time, a man’s sport. With no clear future in sight, she continued to push on with hopes of seeing women’s MMA take a turn for the better. It was undoubtedly a risky decision, but one that would certainly pay off.
To make things better, Davis’ parents had no problem with their little girl strapping on the gloves and competing with other women inside the cage. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what Davis wanted to do. It was her chance to standout. A chance to be different than the rest.
“It might sound surprising, but they were all for it. Even when I started doing jiu-jitsu tournaments, they came to every single one and supported me. Even when my last fight took place, everyone was at my house watching and supporting me. They are really great. My mom and my aunts, they were so nervous for my last fight,” laughed Davis. ”They were chewing all their nails off and covering their faces.”
“They back me no matter what. Talk about a huge support system. They put up with me when I’m cutting weight, when I’m miserable, and they still love me anyway. When I’m having a bad day, they always help me through it. I could be on the otherside of the world and they are still checking up on me. I have a lot of love and support coming from my family.”
Davis’ success inside the cage has allowed her to become one of the most recognized females in MMA today. After winning two of her three Strikeforce bouts, Davis made the transition to one of the fastest growing promotions in the industry today, Invicta Fighting Championships.
Davis will now meet Japanese star Hitomi Akano in Invicta FC 2′s co-main event of the evening on July 28 at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. No stranger to the sport, Akano will attempt to bounce back after suffering a unanimous decision loss to Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann in her latest bout. However, if Davis has anything to say, the outcome may not be what Akano is looking for.
“[Akano is] a veteran of the sport. She’s been around MMA for a long, long time. She definitely has the advantage in terms of experience heading into this fight, but we’re both coming off losses. This isn’t just a huge fight for me, but it’s for her as well, as she’s loooking for a win at all costs,” said Davis.
“For me, I need to keep moving. I want to get in there and utilize all of my strengths. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can never underestimate your opponent. No matter how confident you are in yourself, you need to respect your opponent. I think it’s going to all depend on how aggressive she’s going to be. I’m going in there and looking for the finish in the second round.”
As Davis continues to prepare for her upcoming bout, she’s learned to take a step back and enjoy the moment—an opportunity to see how far women’s MMA has come over the years. As an ambassador for the sport, Davis believes the best is yet to come.
“It really has grown so much. I remember when I first started and it took me a year and a half to get a fight. I fought at 135 [pound] weight class and you were doing catch weights or whatever people agreed upon, just so you could fight. You were taking fights on one or two week notices. Things have really changed since then. It’s come so far and there are so many more opportunities today. There are fights every weekend now,” said Davis. “It’s great for the next generation of fighters, who will have these opportunities because of what we’re doing right now.”
“Women’s MMA will keep going. When it comes down to it, Dana White is a business man. If it’s going to make him money, he’s going to do it. As long as women’s MMA keeps progressing, you’re going to see all these new and up-and-coming fighters continue to develop. We’re changing the sport. We’re pushing the pace,” said Davis. “It’s not a cat fight and we’re not pulling hair.”
“I don’t know what some people think, but we put on just as good fights as the guys do.”
Top Photo: Alexis Davis (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)