While she’s had no official word on whether a win over Cris Cyborg at UFC 240 would land her a featherweight title shot, Felicia Spencer certainly imagines that would be the case.
Edmonton, AB — A year ago, Felicia Spencer was a promising Invicta FC prospect, with an undefeated record. In her mind, she was perhaps a couple fights away from a title in that organization. Eyeing the UFC. Then, the whirlwind hit, and Spencer’s career trajectory took off. The ‘Feenom’ was booked into a title fight with Pam Sorenson, for the title vacated by Megan Anderson. That was in November. Having won that, she then signed on with the UFC, and was booked into a fight with the aforementioned Anderson.
Learning curve? What’s that? That Spencer (7-0) got the better of Anderson, whose ground game has been suspect, isn’t entirely surprising. But with Anderson vanquished and Amanda Nunes holding the UFC’s featherweight title in addition to bantamweight gold, what was the promotion to do but book Spencer against the force of nature that is Cris Cyborg?
And so here we are, ahead of UFC 240 in Edmonton, Canada. Spencer’s Canadian by birth, though she transplanted to the United States at an early age, and trains out of Jungle MMA in Florida. In an exclusive interview with Cageside Press at the event’s media day on Thursday, Spencer admitted that she was “soaking it all in.”
If you possessed the secret to time travel and hopped in your Delorean back to a year ago, however, the surging featherweight would not be surprised if you let slip where she was today.
“It’s definitely been on my radar a long time. It’s kind of like the ideal plan,” she told us. Of course, not all plans come to fruition. This one did. “It’s crazy when your plans work out exactly like you kind of hoped. But yeah I definitely would see myself being here.”
UFC 240 marks Spencer’s first visit to Canada as a professional. “It’s awesome. I’ve met so many awesome fans, and I’ve had a lot of people reach out online and everything, so I’m definitely feeling the love,” she said of the trip to Edmonton, Alberta. “Feeling the love from back home in Florida too, really everywhere.”
So far, she’s managed to explore a little bit, including a trip to the famed West Edmonton Mall. “That was pretty cool, I didn’t get to see a lot of it yet,” she explained. Not surprisingly, given the size of the place, which houses a casino, shooting range, skating rink, and amusement park in addition to the usual shops and dining spots.
Spencer and her fiance will tour the Rocky Mountains, through Jasper and Banff, after the fight. But first up, there’s the formidable Cris Cyborg to contend with. Back at UFC Rochester in her debut, Spencer stole the show, inside of the cage, and out of it. The latter occurred when she quipped that “six inches doesn’t impress me that much” ahead of her fight with Anderson. What about Cyborg’s power, though? That has pretty much impressed everyone over the years.
Yet again, Spencer isn’t impressed. “She’s fought a lot of people that maybe don’t have the same strengths that I do,” she said. “To me [her strength is] not something that is an advantage. We’re in the same weight class, we’ve both fought at 45, I’ve fought heavier than that honestly.”
“I’m not thinking about her strength, physicality as a problem like maybe other people have had issues with,” she added.
She has, however, worked hard at The Jungle MMA to replicate Cyborg’s attack ahead of UFC 240. “I have a really awesome variety of training partners, and they’ve all really done a really good job kind of changing their games, their normal game to sort of mimic certain pieces of Cyborg’s game.” And while no one can ever be the perfect copy of another athlete, “I have people that are amazing at pressure, amazing at testing me in different areas. It’s like I get different pieces of Cyborg with different training partners.”
“They push me every day,” Spencer said of her teammates at The Jungle. “If I ever went to the gym and didn’t feel like I was getting pushed that would be time to go. But I’m definitely happy with everyone I’ve been training with, it’s an amazing team.”
Cyborg will no doubt try to push her as well. The Brazilian was long the most feared woman in combat sports. And though Amanda Nunes dethroned her last December, she remains a tough fight for anyone. Should Spencer earn the win, it can’t mean anything less than a title shot against champ Nunes, can it?
Spencer admitted Thursday that she doesn’t know for sure. “Nothing’s been said, no one’s reached out or anything like that. I could imagine that that would be the case, a win would put me in line for the title shot. But nothing officially.”
The UFC matchmakers would be insane not to book that, should Felicia Spencer defeat Cyborg on Saturday. Spencer has everything it takes to be a star in a division they have yet to fully invest in. The weight class, really, has had several false starts now, including The Ultimate Fighter 28, a featherweight season that has produced zero featherweight mainstays to date.
“I don’t really [have] concern with it too much,” Spencer answered when asked about the weight class. Later, she would add that “I think the outcome of this and what comes in the months after this will have a lot to do with what goes on in the division in future. I think a lot of this is waiting on this fight to happen.”
Felicia Spencer meets Cris Cyborg in the co-main event of UFC 240, this Saturday, July 27, live on PPV.