You have just taken a short-notice fight with a world-class opponent and it is ten days until fight night. The gym that you have spent the past 10 years training at has just recently withdrawn its MMA program. It has been a dream of yours to fight in Japan, and you are frantically making arrangements to fly there.

That’s exactly the predicament that Fiona Muxlow found herself in as she prepared for her fight with Marloes Coenen at Dream 18 in December 2012.

“It was a little overwhelming,” she confessed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Fighting at the Saitama Arena was such a big thing, and the size of the event was so different.”

The atmosphere in itself was something that differed substantially from Muxlow’s previous fights in the Oceania region, which were in comparison on such a smaller scale. “There were fireworks and everything,” she added.

Taking a fight on such short notice always bears a risk, especially without a full training camp.

“I had nothing to lose going into that fight,” Muxlow admitted. “I was glad I did it, and after looking at how I did when compared to her last opponents, I didn’t do that badly considering I had no real preparation for the fight.”

After a 16 month layoff due to injury and with no fight camp, Muxlow lost via armbar in the very first round. From the sidelines, it would have seemed like it was going to be an embarrassing loss for Muxlow, whose fighting style is primarily influenced by jiu-jitsu.

“I don’t think that it was that bad of an outcome. I saw it as putting yourself in a bad position against a smart opponent. I knew she was good on the ground, but to be honest, I was glad that she didn’t knock me out with her knees!” she laughed.

After signing with Invicta Fighting Championship earlier in the year, Muxlow was slated to make her debut for the promotion at the April 5 event against Julia Budd. However, now she has a much bigger fight—hands down, the biggest of her career—in front of her.

After a late injury to Ediane Gomes, Muxlow has been moved up the card to fight Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, who also makes her debut for the promotion and returns to action after her suspension for testing positive to Stanozolol in early 2012.

“I was a little surprised that Julia hadn’t taken the fight, but it’s a big opportunity for me,” Muxlow said.

Only two weeks out from her Invicta FC debut, Muxlow finds herself in a very familiar position—another fight with a top-ranked opponent without a complete camp to prepare for it. Whilst Muxlow has had a full camp in Thailand’s Tiger Muay Thai for the Invicta 5 event, the opponent change does make things a little different.

“There will be some changes to what I do in there, because they are different fighters. I have put in 100 percent of my effort into training so I am happy with where I am,” Muxlow explained. “I am definitely better prepared for this one. I have been very happy with my camp and my support network.

“Around the time of my last fight, things just weren’t right. The gym I had trained at for over 10 years stopped its MMA program, and I hadn’t really been doing too much MMA in the lead up and had really only been focusing on my jiu-jitsu before I took the fight. This time I have a completely different strategy. I have just been following the program set out by my coaches, and I think I am in a good place leading into the fight.”

This isn’t the first time that an Australian fighter has stepped up to a bigger fight for Invicta. On the last card, Bec Hyatt stepped in on late notice to take on Carla Esparza for the strawweight championship. Although unsuccessful, Hyatt won over many fans with her gutsy efforts. Muxlow may not be fighting for a championship, but there have been implications that the winner of this bout would go on to face Marloes Coenen for the organization’s featherweight strap.

“It was originally billed as the winner gaining a title shot, and I think that a win here would certainly put me in contention for it,” Muxlow explained. “For me, it’s all about a rematch with Marloes. I want a shot at the 145-pound title, and I want a chance to fight her with a full camp.”

For some people, it would be easy to use an excuse that their opponent has been caught cheating and to keep that in the back of their mind to justify a poor performance.

“Invicta have told everything that they are going to do random drug testing, so I am not worried,” Muxlow said. “The best thing for me in this fight is that I will have my support network with me right up until the cage door closes. Roger Huerta will be coming along with me, as well as my manager, so I think that having people with me will really help.”

From the point of view of many fans, Cyborg is a dangerous opponent, having won the vast majority of her fights by TKO. It certainly isn’t set to be an easy day at the office for Muxlow. In true “Aussie spirit,” she isn’t worried about the almost scary dominance Cyborg has displayed in previous fights.

“Everybody is human, and without her ‘extra assistance,’ I think it will be more of an even playing field. Well, I hope so anyway. I get to bash her face in for cheating as well!”

With the right preparation and with redemption at the front of her mind, Muxlow gets the chance to showcase what she can do inside the cage against a top-ranked opponent when she has a full camp behind her. It may not be the Saitama Super Arena in Japan this time, but it’s still one of the most prominent stages for women’s MMA. And this time, Muxlow plans to leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that she deserves to be there.

Fiona would like to thank Rocktape Australia, OnNit, CrossFit North Queensland, Team Takedown, Tussle Fight Gear Tiger Muay Thai + MMA for their continued support in the lead up to her fight. Fiona would also like to thank Brian Ebersole and Roger Huerta and the rest of the team at Tiger Muay Thai.  Follow Muxlow on Twitter: @FionaMMA

Photo: Fiona Muxlow (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.