Invicta FC 28’s Jillian DeCoursey: “It’s Just a Matter of Time” Before Atomweights In UFC

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Invicta FC 28's Jillian DeCoursey
Jillian DeCoursey, right, poses at the Invicta FC 25 weigh-ins Credit: Scott Hirano/Invicta FC

Invicta FC hits the road this weekend with Invicta FC 28 in Salt Lake City, Utah — and atomweight Jillian DeCoursey is looking for a finish on the card.

Atomweight Jillian DeCoursey will return to the Invicta FC cage this weekend at Invicta FC 28. Facing Rebekah Levine, DeCoursey, a.k.a. ‘Lionheart,’ will look to make it two straight wins in the all-female fighting promotion. We caught up with the feisty fighter about the bout, the atomweight division being next in line for the UFC, and how she got her start in the sport.

While jiu-jitsu was her first love when it comes to the fight game, it wasn’t her first as an athlete. “I was a basketball player. I was a center,” the 105lb fighter said with a laugh. “No, I was point guard.”

As to how she transitioned from the court to the cage, DeCoursey told us that after playing basketball in college, she was looking to stay active and competitive. “After I was done [college], I was playing on club teams and things like that, but it wasn’t the same.”

Explaining that “I needed something a little bit more competitive,” the atomweight told us that BJJ was “something different to do. I kind of just found jiu-jitsu, and everything kind of took off from there — I started competing a lot.” It was just BJJ at first. “I wasn’t really doing much Mauy Thai or anything.”

Things progressed from there. “I picked the Mauy thai back up, and then MMA — I was just messing around in the gym a couple years ago and my coach said  ‘do you want to do a fight?’ I took a fight, and it was awesome and it just kind of all rolled from there.”

Rolling from there included compiling an impressive record as an amateur, complete with several titles.

“I went 8-1 as an amateur, the only fight I lost I took on a week and a half notice,” she told us. Her time on the amateur scene was a learning experience, but she knew she wanted to go pro with Invicta FC. “I had gotten, for a good year and a half, before I wound up going for it, I was getting a lot of offers” DeCoursey explained. “But I just kind of hung tight. I kept getting really good fight offers as an amateur, titles shots against legit opponents. So I said ‘okay, hey, I can just keep waiting, keep getting more and more experience, winning a whole bunch of titles as an amateur,’ and eventually, I knew the call from Invicta was going to come.”

The call, of course, did come. As for her attraction to Invicta, “they treat their fighters really well, and it’s really cool to be part of something all female. Currently the UFC doesn’t have my weight class, so it’s the next best thing.” The UFC of course is the goal of many fighters moving through the Invicta FC ranks. Yet without a 105lb weight class available in the world’s top MMA promotion, the question of whether DeCoursey would move back up to strawweight, where she spent “a good portion” of her amateur career, is a tricky one.

Those strawweight fights were “because I didn’t really know that I could fight at atomweight, and that fights would be available to me as an amateur. When I was fighting at strawweight, I was actually gaining some weight, or trying to, not successfully.”

“If the opportunity comes,” she continued, “it’s like okay, you’ve kind of got to take it. But it’s definitely not my natural weight class. I’m rather small for strawweight. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right?”

“I definitely think she’s going to come out super aggressive. But that’s my style anyway, so we can play my game.”

It may not come to that. Though former Invicta FC atomweight champ Michelle Waterson moved up to strawweight to break into the UFC, it feels like the 105lb weight class is next in line. “I think so, I think it’s going to happen,” DeCoursey agreed. “Atomweights in general bring exciting fights. There’s a pretty big roster that keeps building and building.”

“It’s just a matter of time before it actually happens” she finished.

Before worrying about the UFC, of course, Jillian DeCoursey has her fight Saturday at Invicta FC 28 to contend with. She’ll be facing Rebekah LeVine, who like ‘Lionheart’ is undefeated as a pro. Unlike ‘Lionheart,’ however, she has yet to set foot in the Invicta FC cage. So what are DeCoursey’s expectations of the fight?

“I think she’s going to come out aggressive, and really try to grind it out,” she told Cageside Press. “I think she probably has expectations of what I’m going to do, but I think I’m going to surprise her a little bit. I’m going to kind of not give her things that she’s expecting, but I definitely think she’s going to come out super aggressive. But that’s my style anyway, so we can play my game.”

As for the edge she has having fought for Invicta before, DeCoursey does feel it could play a role. “Absolutely. You know what the experience is like. I fought for Invicta before, she hasn’t. So I think that definitely plays a little bit in my favor, because I know what fight week is like, I know how fight night works,” she explained. “The cameras and everything, that you don’t get in other promotions, sometimes can kind of mess with your head a little bit.” Her experience is, therefore, a definite plus.

As for how she plans on getting her hand raised, well, “everybody wants the finish, definitely looking to finish. A lot of my fights have gone to decision. Most of my fights I’ve had the opportunity where I could have pulled the trigger, and it just didn’t happen.” Having admitted that, she added that it’s “something I’m definitely looking to change for this fight.”

And if her hand is raised, the goal from there is “to get as many fights as possible, and just keep winning and keep climbing that ladder. And eventually make my way up to the top.”

Jillian DeCoursey continues that climb to the top when she faces Rebekah LeVine at Invicta FC 28, March 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Union Event Center. The card airs live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

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