Long time, veteran fighter Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi (20-13) was kind enough to take time out of her super busy fight camp training to answer some questions on the challenges of being a MMA superhero, before facing Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (11-6) this Saturday night, May 20th at Invicta 23,
Roxy gives us compelling answers and the real deal scoop on how her career has evolved, being a good role model and how she maintains her positive attitude.
In your early years when you began training in taekwondo did you ever think that your career as a MMA fighter would evolve into what it has today? Did it turn out how you hoped and what do you still have yet to accomplish?
– I didn’t think I would be able to make enough money fighting to be able to quit my day job and fight full-time. Technically, I’m still not making ends meet just by fighting, but I have enough money in my savings account to supplement, and I teach BJJ to kids part time. I’m very excited with how the sport has evolved over the years and proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I’ve never considered myself an athlete, but more of a martial artist just trying to perfect her art, become stronger, and prove that I can use the techniques I’ve been training in live combat.
At what point in your martial arts training did you decide to become a MMA fighter and why? Was there someone that you saw that inspired or influenced you?
-I had trained many different styles, and then my jiujitsu friends got me into the UFC. Finally, I saw a lady Laura D’August fight MMA. I had competed against her in grappling competitions, and I thought, “If she can do it, I can do it!” I felt and still feel like MMA is the ultimate challenge of my abilities, and I always strive to do the most I possibly can.
Who would you say after 35 fights was your toughest opponent? What did you learn from that fight and how did it make you a better martial artist and human being??
-I can’t really pick a single fight. Each fight is different for many reasons. Fighting Takayo Hashi and Rosi Sexton and losing to them was very difficult because I could feel my body failing me and I couldn’t will-power myself to win. I had hurt my knee before Hashi but went ahead with the fight anyway despite not really training for it, because she was my former training partner and I wanted to show that I was better. Rosi was someone I respected very much and wanted to win in London so badly, but my body wasn’t responding due to poor weight cut and I didn’t have good condition training back then, so she outworked me.
I don’t really buy into that “losing is good for you.” Instead, I think of it like “whatever you can learn from a win or a loss is good for you.” When you make a mistake, you should naturally try to fix it and thus become stronger and better. Then it becomes a positive thing. However, in my last fight I won but my ground and pound wasn’t so good, so John taught me some stuff and now I’m better than ever. In regards to the previously mentioned two fights, I didn’t learn how to weight cut and condition for another few years, until I got on the ultimate fighter.
Out of all your fights which one was your favorite or most fulfilling fight and why?
-All my fights under Syndicate in Invicta have been incredibly fulfilling because I have shown and proved my striking ability has increased. I had previously lost hope I’d ever get decent at it, but coach John Wood is a miracle worker.
In case you didn’t know, Roxy is not only a mma fan favorite but also a published author having written two books:
You recently published a new book on “How to Be Positive: Mental Training” What inspired you to write this book and how do you think it will help people develop skills in maintaining a positive outlook or change a negative stress response to positive?
-I’d been thinking of ways I could help inspire other people and share my positive outlook. I credit my mother for always stressing positive thinking every time I said something negative. The principles I try to teach in the book are all things she taught me, and I made a workbook out of it, by introducing hypothetical problems and having the readers use the key phrased to think positively about them. That’s mental training. It takes practice to think positively.
Setting a good example to children and those watching you is important to you. What role models inspired your code of conduct? Why?
-When I was growing up, at first I wanted to be a teacher, but I kind of forgot about it and worked towards becoming a writer and then a translator. Then, I actually got hired as a teacher and realized how kids copy adults, how they hear everything we say, and might take to heart things we say off-hand. I realized what weight I had and what role I could potentially play in a child’s life, so I started taking that very seriously. A few times I saw other teachers do something I considered not a good model, and it reinforced every more how I wanted to be the very best so that the next generation would be as good or better than us. We are basically building our future by raising kids.
What advice would you give parents of young girls coming up in martial arts? What advice would you give young female adults on having a career as a fighter?
-First of all, don’t let them get hit in the head in sparring until they are over 13. Research shows that the most critical brain development takes place at before then. Next would be advice for just anybody – find a gym or dojo with teachers who truly care about the development of youths, rather than only making money.
Unlike some other female fighters you have created an image for yourself that steers away from sex appeal, and trash talking your opponent yet you get awesome fights and great publicity. What was your mindset on going against the grain to accomplish this.
-I was brought up to “Just be yourself. Don’t try and be somebody you’re not.” I’m just following that mindset. I’m sure I would get more opportunities if I were more beautiful and had bigger boobs, but I’ve accepted that.
Do you have any tips for upcoming female fighters on how they can make themselves more marketable?
-Learn how to use social media to interact with fans and promote themselves. Also, promote some unique aspect of themselves. Every fighter needs to stand out or be unique in some way to be noticed.
What is your fascination with super heroes? Do you consider yourself a superhero junkie? Who is your all-time favorite heroine/ hero?
-I love them because they usually try and do the “right” thing. Helping people is very admirable. You have to be strong and have power to help others, but it’s also so easy to abuse it and use it for the Dark Side. It takes a strong person to be good, and I admire that. Well, my favorite Marvel super hero is Spiderman. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
As a MMA fan…Who’s your favorite male fighter? Who’s your all time favorite female fighter? Why??
– I’ve admired grapplers the most, so I Iove Matt Serra, K-Taro Nakamura, and Damien Maia. I love watching Rose Namajunas, Andrea Lee, and Miesha Tate fight.
Last year GSP announced the launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete Association.A fighter’s union set to help protect combative sports participants. Currently fighter have no protection, no pension, no safety net and make about 8 cents on the dollar compared to other professional sports that make fifty. For woman it must be lower….What are your thoughts on female fighters who are contracted by promotions that are injured while training and are not covered by insurance? Or the difference in fighter pay for females vs male fighters…is there a gender bias? Have you considered joining this union? Do you know of any other female fighters considering joining it??
-My thoughts are….life isn’t fair. That’s one reason I want to be a superhero, to make it fair. Lol I pay for insurance out of my own pocket and it’s not easy. Fighters’ statuses are the problem. I feel like fighters who are under the contact of a specific promotion and can’t fight anywhere else should have more benefits that go along with that exclusivity. Freelance fighters who can fight anywhere could get less which goes with that freedom. That’s how most companies work, right?! Part-timers don’t get insurance? You get insurance when you are hired! It sucks that it’s not the case in MMA. However, many promotions do have fight insurance so three months after the fight, you can claim some injury. It just can’t be used with training injuries. I don’t think there’s a gender bias here. I would only join a union if everyone else joined one, or I might get punished by not getting fights lined up.
What are your thoughts on having a manager negotiating fighter pay, health care, disability benefits, physical therapy and training, getting sponsorships or a share in licensing, merchandising and media revenue?
-It’s a dream far in the future for us fighters. Promotions don’t want to spend that much money on us.
How do you see opportunities for female fighters evolving in the sport?
-I see opportunities becoming equal to that of men in the future. This is slowing coming to pass, but there are less females fighters than men in the world.
You’re coming off a win and will be facing Sarah D’Alelio at Invicta 23 as the co-main event. She is riding a four-fight winning streak. How do you see Sarah as an opponent?
-She’s tough and skilled. Therefore I’m super excited to face her and see if I can succeed with the techniques I’ve learned. Her stand up is solid and so is her grappling. My coach has a gameplan for me and I know I have the necessary tools in my toolbox to take the win.
Do you think a win over Sarah will get you back for title contention?
-Nobody told me specifically, but I’m guessing that the winner of my fight faces the winner of Porto vs Niedzwiedz for the title shot. Poor Maia has to wait around a bit.
Any prefight message for Sarah?
-Bring your A-game! I’m looking forward to confusing you with my awkward style and new super attacks. I just can’t shout out the attack name as I’m powering up – I’m not that good yet.
Do you have message for your fans for this upcoming fight?
–I have the best fans ever who support me through thick and thin. Thank you for always watching, reaching out on social media, and sending positive energy. A few fans even sent me taco/nacho restaurant gift cards. Hah!
Invicta Fighting Championships 23 Porto vs Niedzwiedz
1330 E Linwood Blvd
Kansas City, MO, 64109
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM (event ends at 11:30 PM)