17 November 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister meets Mixed Martial Arts fighter Rosi Sexton

October 2, 2013
Rosi-Sexton

Moments before speaking to the UK’s first female Mixed Martial Arts fighter to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) I was continuously asked how I had ‘prepared to interview a fighter as if there were an alternative, perhaps primitive, approach to interviewing someone potentially dangerous.

The answer is, I hadn’t, I expected to have an interesting and thought provoking discussion with a highly respectable woman, hard worker and mother – and it turns out I did just that.

Rosi-Sexton

Dr Rosi Sexton (13-3) isn’t just a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter; she is an osteopath, mathematician and full time mother – not to mention she has a degree in mathematics and a PhD in theoretical computer science under her black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Jiu Jitsu.

How does she do it? Still a mystery, but one thing is for sure, at 36 years of age this woman has more to smile about than just documented achievements. She is morally a force to be reckoned with and a highly inspirational being.

How has the MMA scene changed now compared to how it was when you first started?
I was first introduced to Mixed Martial Arts in 1999 that’s when I first found out about the sport. My first fight was in 2002 and back then very few people knew about it, it was still a new thing in America. Over the years it has grown in the UK; you can talk to people about the UFC and they’ll know what you’re talking about. Alongside that you have the increase in regulation of the sport, moving it toward a more legitimate sport and that’s the image the UFC is very keen to promote, and if you look at how well it’s run, it definitely justifies that.

When you tell people you’re a fighter what are the most common responses?
They are curious because I don’t look like the stereotype you would associate with being a fighter, they almost do a double take and then they start asking questions because I don’t fit their picture of what a fighter looks like, it tends to engage them so I’ve had some really interesting discussions with people.

So you’re an osteopath a mother and a fighter, how do you fit it all in?!
It’s all about priorities; you have to focus on the important things. When I have a fight coming up I cut back on the other work that I’m doing. As far as being a mother’s concerned I have to make sure I spend enough time with my son and making sure he gets what he needs as well, I’m fortunate to have some great people around me.

Now that women are allowed to fight in the UFC, how do you think the gender ratio of MMA fans will change?

I think having female fighters lends itself towards engaging female viewers because they can perhaps identify with them a bit more. It’s the quality of the fight that sells it and also the range of characters, so having women does add to that range, you’ve got your Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate rivalry, and you’ve got Sara McMann who’s a mother. Fans can now choose who they want to identify with.

Presumably you have to be in good shape for this profession, how strict is your diet?
From about 6 to 8 weeks out (prior to a fight) I’ll be fairly controlled with my diet I know what I need to eat and when, I usually have one cheat day a week where I can eat whatever I like. I have a nutritionist who works it all out for me so I know what I’ve got to be eating and when.

What would be your typical cheat meal?
My weakness is probably Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

Which flavour?
(Laughs) probably ‘chocolate brownie’, ‘phish food’ as well!

As a woman in MMA do you ever feel pressurised to pay close attention to you appearance in the media eye?
 I haven’t noticed that personally, my fan base is different.  I think I have the best fans in the sport; I talk to intelligent people who send me intelligent comments and letters. I think it depends on how you present yourself. Many of the women in the sport are very attractive and I don’t think there is anything wrong with showing that. Personally, I don’t like when it goes too much towards the side of perhaps figure modelling, it’s not my style. I don’t object to it but it’s not something I would particularly want to do myself.

Earlier this year, professional female fighters such as Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey took part in a nude photo shoot for ESPN, is this something you would turn down?
That’s a hard question to answer; I’m not going to say absolutely one way or the other. To be honest I would be surprised if I was asked, I don’t think that would sit with my image particularly. But from what I have seen of the photos they look very tasteful. I don’t particularly have a problem with people who take tasteful images of the female body, I think it depends on how it’s done and how it’s presented but at the same time there’s a time and a place for that sort of thing.

It seems to be a trend among many MMA fighters to ‘trash talk’ their opponents and play mind games, personally is this something you entertain?
I think it suits some fighters, it suits Ronda Rousey’s character and it’s definitely working for her, if you look at all the attention she’s getting it’s hard to criticise that because it is working. Personally it’s not my style, it’s not what I do, I don’t have a problem with other people doing it, it’s just not how I choose to present myself.

When you enter the octagon, what are the first thoughts that run into your head?
I’m essentially running on autopilot, that’s where I revert to my training, so everything at that point has been trained and programmed in and I end up fighting the way I train.

You have a brilliant track record, 13 wins and only 3 losses, do you ever look back at your losses and over analyse them or do you just forget and move on?
Win or lose you have to look back on and see bits you can improve on. There are things I see I did well and less well, you look back at your training and see what you can improve for next time. You improve from one fight to the next. 

So looking back at your most recent fight with Alexis Davis in June, what have you taken from that loss?
I think it was a good competitive fight. It was a close fight…I think. I was quite happy with certain aspects of my performance, things I could have improved even in the run up to the fight. As a whole I was pleased with what I did but not satisfied.

So let’s talk about this fight coming up against Jessica Andrade in Manchester on October 26, the first female UFC fight to take place in Europe! How do you feel about it?
 I think it’s fantastic and a brilliant match up. Based on our fighting styles it’s going to be a very interesting fight. Jessica is young and talented, I’m older and a bit more experienced so I suppose you’ve got that youth vs. experienced kind of match,  it will be interesting to see how that plays out, she’s got some powerful striking and grappling skills – she’s dangerous and I can see it being a few fast paced rounds.

She’s only 21, that’s a 15 year age gap! Do you find that odd at all?
It’s interesting because I was training Martial Arts before she was born and I was fighting Pro MMA before she was in junior school so yes it is a bit strange but at the end of the day we’re both athletes and we’re both grown women, she’s got a long career ahead of her and I’m sure she’ll be very successful…but this one’s mine!

So you’re confident you’re going to win this?
I intend to make it so!

What would be the best advice you’d give to up and coming female MMA fighters, particularly in the UK?
Surround yourself with good people, who you feel comfortable with and who have your best interests at heart and who will tell you how it is, not what you want to hear. You need people who will support you but will give you that reality check when you need one.

Rosi Sexton will square off with Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night 30: Bisping vs. Munoz on October 26 at Manchester’s Phones4u Arena. Tickets are available via www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.phones4uarena.co.uk.

Melissa Erasia
Sportsister, The Women’s Sport Magazine

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Select a sport

Find out how to get started, training plans and expert advice.