Roxanne Modafferi was a moderate betting underdog heading into her featured flyweight title with previously-unbeaten Antonina Shevchenko on Saturday, but she came out of the skirmish triumphant.
Modafferi, one of the pioneers of women’s MMA, withstood quite a few clean punches to the face and several kicks to the legs and body from “Pantera” and stuck to her game plan. “The Happy Warrior” appeared to be rocked by a few punches from Shevchenko, a multiple-time world champion in muay Thai, but once the American was able to get inside, Shevchenko became the victim.
“The fight went how my coach said it would, so I listened to his game plan,” Modafferi said after her win. “I’m very proud of myself and this camp was special because I got to train for a southpaw.”
When Modafferi took the fight to the ground – which she did in every round – she controlled the pace and dominated Shevchenko. A practitioner of both judo and jiu-jitsu, Modafferi was unable to secure any submissions, but she dished out plenty of damage from on top and neutralized the Kyrgyzstani en route to a somewhat surprising splitdecision win.
“I know Antonina had a lot of hype behind her, but I think a lot of that was due to her sister [Valentina Shevchenko] being the champion,” she said. “I worked hard to not let that intimidate me. I looked at Antonina as an opponent and didn’t worry about her sister, who I would like to fight someday.”
After her conquest, Modafferi (23-15) morphed into somebody she really isn’t, which is a trash talker who calls people out. However, the Syndicate MMA fighter shouted that wants to fight “Cyborg” next, but in all actually, “The Happy Warrior” was simply joking.
“Every time I try to call someone out on social media, I don’t get that person,” she laughed. “So ‘Cyborg’ was a joke about that. I’ll call her out because I won’t get her.
“I’ll fight whoever the matchmakers want me to fight,” she added. “If they want me to smack talk someone, I will do that as well. Shoot me a text and I’ll dress up in my favorite super hero outfit and do it.”