Houston, TX — After 50 fights in total, 45 as a pro and five exhibition bouts as part of The Ultimate Fighter, Roxanne Modafferi wrapped up her career at UFC 271 on Saturday.
“The Happy Warrior” left the sport of MMA — at least as an active fighter — to some of the loudest cheers of the night in Houston. The crowd roared for every Roxy attack, and booed opponent Casey O’Neill mercilessly when the split decision against Modafferi was read.
“I’m very honored and very deeply touched by the reception that the fans gave me,” Modafferi told members of the media following the fight, in a rare post-fight appearance by a losing fighter. “I really tried to remember that moment, and know that everyone’s proud of me and cheering for me, and that was really cool. So thank you everybody.”
Perhaps Modafferi’s appearance backstage for one last chat with the media shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Syndicate MMA fighter has always been a fan favorite, and she carved out her niche in the sport’s history through sheer heart and will at times.
A Strikeforce, Invicta FC, and UFC title challenger, Modafferi didn’t look the part of the fighter. She simply was one at heart. And even in her final fight, she showed obvious improvements in her game.
“I was able to fight with a mental clarity that I’ve never had before, and I really, really wanted it. That was one of my goals,” she said of her performance. “And I wanted to leave the octagon saying ‘I got stronger, because I trained really hard.’ And I did. So I’m happy.”
The obvious question for any retiring fighter is one involving reflection. What were the biggest moments of your career, your favorite memory? For Modafferi, the answer was a loss — for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight championship in 2017.
“I fought Nicco Montano for the title, and I tried so hard. Just I gave every ounce of my strength against that, and then she was the winner,” Modafferi recalled. “And I was sad, I was standing there, and Daniel Cormier was like ‘don’t go,’ and I was like ‘alright.’ So I’m standing there and everyone’s celebrating and I’m like super bummed, then Daniel comes over to me and the crowd starts cheering, and he just smiles, and the crowd was cheering so loudly. And I was like ‘aww that’s so cool, they love me.’ I’m just like a weird, awkward anime dork who tries really hard as a martial artist, and they’re cheering for me. That was so cool.”
Watch the full UFC 271 post-fight press conference with Roxanne Modafferi above.