Bellator 195’s Emily Ducote is ready to put the lessons learned from her title fight late last year into practice, and who she’s fighting matters not.
Bellator flyweight Emily Ducote returns to the cage this Friday at Bellator 195 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. There, ‘Gordinha’ will look to put the lessons learned from her loss to Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in Bellator’s inaugural women’s flyweight title fight to work. Despite having competed for gold in the weight class, the promotion has handed her relative newcomer Kristina Williams this time out. Williams shot to stardom by upsetting flyweight sweetheart and boxing sensation Heather Hardy, but she’s still a 1-0 fighter.
Ducote (6-3), however, told Cageside Press she simply doesn’t turn down fights. We spoke about that, the lessons learned from her title fight loss, and more ahead of her return at Bellator 195 this Friday.
“There’s a lot of lessons,” Ducote told us of what she took away from the loss to Macfarlane, her second to the Hawaiian. “Physically, fight-wise, and there’s a lot of mental lessons that I learned in that fight. It’s hard to explain all of them, but there’s things I did or didn’t do in the fight.” What Ducote is looking to do now is take those lessons and put them to work. “I’m trying to take those puzzle pieces and put them together for this next fight. Fixing my mistakes that I made, and just looking forward to putting them into play for this next fight.”
Ducote suggested that much of it boiled down to the little things. “I did things, like I was active with kicks, and active with takedown defense, but in some situations, I wasn’t active enough, or didn’t throw enough, or wasn’t in the right range, things like that. Small things that make big differences.”
And while it may seem odd that she’s getting a 1-0 fighter coming off a title fight, Ducote told Cageside Press that “I stopped trying to figure out Bellator and what they do a long time ago.” As a result, there was no hesitation when the promotion offered her Williams. “It doesn’t matter who it is,” she said. “Any fight we’ve been offered, we’ve accepted. We don’t ask for people, we really just ask to fight and to stay active. I’m not really concerned about records or things like that.”
One side-effect, however, is that there is precious little tape of Kristina Williams to watch in preparation for the fight. And what is out there is “hard to watch, because she really outsmarted Heather, it’s how she beat her. She outsmarted her. But the thing is,” Ducote continued, “I’m not a boxer. Any time you fight somebody, you’ve got to fight people different. You don’t fight everybody the same. We’ve seen her style, we’ve seen a little bit of what she does, obviously we haven’t seen that much, so I’m expecting her to be a little different.”
That having been said, Emily Ducote is not overly worried with Williams’ style or game plan. As she put it, “if I put so much worry or thought into what she’s going to do, it puts her above me, and it puts myself lower.” Instead, her camp has been about “focusing on myself, and my skills, fixing my mistakes and sharpening my skills. Less thought about what she’s going to do or how it’s going to play out like that and just more about being ready where ever it goes.”
Ducote was, in the past, linked to a fight with former UFC title challenger Valerie Letourneau, which unfortunately fell through when Letourneau was injured. Asked if it’s a fight she’d like to get back, ‘Gordinha’ explained that “when that fight fell through and Jessica [Middleton] stepped up and accepted the fight, it just shifted. I never had another thought about Valerie. Really I’m just focused on who I’m signed [contractually] to fight against.”
“If they offered me Valerie, of course, of course I would accept,” she added. “We don’t say no, more so because I really believe that anybody you fight, you’re going to learn so much from them.” Ducote expanded on that last point, saying that “you can fight five different strikers, and learn five completely different lessons fighting them. I just feel like every individual’s going to show you something different.”
She reiterated, however, that she’ll fight anyone Bellator has to offer. “They’ve got a growing group of women’s flyweights, so there’s so many potential match-ups to be made.”
Ducote would like to stay as active as possible this year, and preferably appear on each and every card in Thackerville, which is right in Ducote’s backyard. “I’m not worried about anything title related, I just want to fight.”
Fighting, to Ducote, helps her grow outside of the cage as well as in it. “As crazy as this sounds, when ever I have a camp, and when ever I step in that cage, something changes,” she explained. “Not just fight-wise or training-wise, but just as a person. My eyes open a little bit. I learn all these lessons. And I kind of see more of what I want to do or less of what I want to do. There’s an idea of the person I want to be. And every time I step into the cage, I get a little closer, because I learn all these lessons that I try to apply not just to fighting but to life itself.”
The key to it all is change. “I love change, I love that we are capable of it. I love what fighting does. I’ve seen people at the gym, or people that fight other fighters for Bellator or other promotions, that change. Fighting brings change. And I love that.”
The fight game is something Ducote embraced early, alongside her grandmother, who is perhaps her biggest fan. “She will not miss a Bellator event, she has been to all six of my fights, where ever they are.”
Her grandmother is, in fact, the reason she got into the sport. “She loves to be there. She’s how I got started, how I got into martial arts,” Ducote continued. “If you’ve ever seen her at a fight event, you’ll know what I’m talking about. She loves it, she thrives on it. It excites her, she loves it.”
And how did Grandma fall in love with the sport originally? Docute isn’t entirely sure. “All I can remember is being a little kid, sitting on the couch watching fights all day. She loves Urijah Faber.”
Perhaps fighting is just in her blood. “She’s a firecracker. I’m not surprised that she likes them. The kind of person that she is, she’s really strong, and fierce.” And had her grandmother been a young woman in today’s world, “I have no doubt that she would herself be a fighter.”
Emily Ducote takes on Kristina Williams at Bellator 195, live this Friday on the Paramount Network. The televised main card kicks off at 9PM EST.