UFC 271’s Roxanne Modafferi Proud of Accomplishments: “I’ve Done A Lot”

Houston, TX — There are few fighters more beloved in mixed martial arts than Roxanne Modafferi. And few who have had the long, winding journey that Modafferi has through the sport.

Come Saturday’s UFC 271, when she steps into the cage against Casey O’Neill, “The Happy Warrior” will hit several milestones. Most fights for a female professional mixed martial artist. 50 fights overall, counting her exhibition contests on The Ultimate Fighter seasons 18 and 26. She’ll tie the record, at present, for most fights in the UFC women’s flyweight division, at 11.

UFC 271 will also mark Roxanne Modafferi’s final fight. And after years of looking to get stronger and stronger as a fighter, she hopes to be able to say she did just that.

“All this time, I’ve always focused on ‘I want to be stronger, I want to be stronger, I want to be stronger,’ that’s my martial arts spirit,” Modafferi said during this week’s media day. “So now after this fight, I want to be able to say ‘I got stronger.'”

Strength comes in different forms. In the case of Roxanne Modafferi, one of those is quite clearly perseverance. Embarking on her fighting career in 2003, while living in Japan, Modafferi fought at a time where making a living off fighting as a female wasn’t yet possible — though, she told Cageside Press in an interview last month, she believed one day, she’d be able to.

She also spent much of her career fighting against significantly larger opponents. At least that won’t be the case Saturday. Which, if we’re being honest, has felt like an afterthought. Win or lose, much of Fight Week has been about celebrating Modafferi’s career. Which makes one wonder if she regrets announcing her retirement in advance.

As it turns out, she doesn’t. “In the past when I wondered about how it would be, I didn’t want to think about retirement. But now I think I’m absolutely ready, so I don’t mind talking about it,” she stated Wednesday.

Still, there’s a tough opponent ahead. Casey O’Neill is undefeated. She’s been vocal about her disinterest in Modafferi’s swan song, going as far as saying the fight won’t be the passing of a torch, but the final nail in the coffin.

“Ooh that’s pretty sassy, I like it,” Modafferi responded to that line, infallible cheerfulness on full display. “That’s exactly what she should be thinking. She shouldn’t care about me or my career or anything, she should be training to fight me. I really respect her, she seems like a very tough opponent, I always enjoyed watching her fights up til now.”

Regardless of whether she picks up a victory Saturday, Roxanne Modafferi will leave the sport a winner. She never looked like a fighter, outside the cage anyway. She never talked like one — she’s far too polite, refuses to trash talk opponents, and rarely has a negative thing to say about anyone. And despite that, she’s managed to hold her own in the most brutal of sports for two decades. Even fighting for a UFC title.

“I’m proud of myself,” Modafferi admitted this week. “I’ve done a lot. Nothing can take away from what I’ve actually done.”

Roxanne Modafferi faces Casey O’Neill at UFC 271 this Saturday, February 12, 2022 in what will be Modafferi’s retirement fight. Her full media day scrum can be viewed above; more coverage from the event is available below.