Making her debut at UFC Rochester this weekend, women’s featherweight Felicia Spencer discusses opponent Megan Anderson, the big opportunity ahead of her, and her dual careers as fighter and teacher.
Rochester NY — Welcome to the UFC, Felicia Spencer. With Fight Week finally upon us, Spencer is getting the full UFC experience, including open workouts and media duties. The former Invicta FC champ has been in the spotlight before, but certainly not to this level. Still, she told reporters including Cageside Press at Thursday’s media day ahead of UFC Rochester, she feels well prepared for the experience.
Invicta primed her for this. And as she comes into the fight, “it’s everything on my mind right now. It’s been my focus since before it was a reality.”
“The opportunity to fight for the UFC is huge,” Spencer (6-0) said, “and I’m not going to waste that opportunity. So I’m really excited.”
It’s something of a different situation from what most fighters experience in their UFC debut. With women’s featherweight feeling so sparse, Spencer vs. Megan Anderson, herself a former Invicta FC featherweight champ, feels almost like a number one contender’s fight. Spencer has alluded to that before.
“I feel very lucky to be in the position I’m in. I know most people don’t have a path like this to the UFC,” she admitted. “I’m soaking it in. I’m ready for it. I feel just lucky to be in the spot I’m in. Would it have been a whole different path starting from the bottom of a more stacked division? Yeah.” However, that is “a whole different story, so it’s not something I’ve dwelt on. I knew coming into this that this was going to be big.”
Besides which, “my steps in my career have always been big, so I’m used to it.”
What’s not big is her stature. Spencer is 5″6, giving up a full six inches in height to Megan Anderson.
“Six inches doesn’t impress me that much,” Spencer quipped. More seriously, she added that “every fight, every single card has at least one fight that has a six inch discrepancy. And the shorter fighter wins a lot. It’s definitely something that I’ve paid attention to, and it’s not something I’m worried about. I think it plays to my advantage a little bit, in certain areas.”
Training at The Jungle in Florida, Spencer added that the gym “is very diverse in our skill set.” Which includes “a lot of variety in height and size and specialties.”
Outside of fighting, Spencer is also a teacher, and it’s another passion of hers. “Teaching kind of pays the bills. But I am very passionate about teaching. I teach at my gym, I teach the kid’s class. Teaching is always going to be a part of my life,” she said.
It’s a career she embarked upon when fighting didn’t seem like a viable option per se. “When I was going to school and everything, women fighting wasn’t even something that even could have paid the bills. So I always just had a good backup plan.” She juggled both, balanced them well. That’s par of the course, because as she put it, “I take on every challenge.”
As for her student’s reactions, “I teach at an online school, so a lot of them haven’t mentioned it,” Spencer explained. However, she speaks to both parents and students on the phone frequently. And occasionally, her other career comes up. “Some of them have said ‘hey I googled you…'”
“I get a little shy about it, because I’ve always been a little timid about mixing my two worlds,” Spencer admitted. “I used to think that maybe they wouldn’t think of it in a good way, but I think I can really portray it in a good way, and kind of push them them to push for their dreams, but not forget that they need a back-up plan.” After all, just look to Spencer herself as an example. “I work full time, and I’m in the UFC. You can’t just put everything into one bucket.”
Heading into UFC Rochester, Spencer told Cageside Press that she’s feeling “really comfortable. The emotions come in waves, with more nerves.” At the same time, however, “it kind of feels like Invicta. There’s a few more cameras around, a few different things to do. But I feel really prepared for this experience, and I hope that translates in the cage for that experience too.”
As to Anderson’s weight cut, which became a story with ESPN earlier in the week, Spencer isn’t impressed by it any more than she is with her opponent’s height. “I cut too. Honestly, she mentioned she was like 156 yesterday. That doesn’t sound like a crazy cut to me. I think every fighter’s cutting 15lbs of water, myself included. So I don’t see anything that crazy. I know she’s pretty ripped already, coming into her fight camps. But, the cut is what all of us do.”
Watch the full UFC Rochester media day press scrum with Felicia Spencer above!