Ffion Davies Happy For More Opportunities Ahead of ADXC 4 Match

Ffion Davies discusses the opportunities available to grapplers ahead of her match with Morgan Black at Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship 4 in Paris.

Despite being the pillar of the original iteration of mixed martial arts and a cornerstone of the sport today, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has taken awhile to gain the kind of crossover exposure that the other arts like kickboxing and wrestling have enjoyed. While several tournaments have existed for decades now, it is only recently that the world of streaming has opened the doors for events to have the kind of attention and production value that has made BJJ competition a booming business for elite competitors.

Among those practitioner is “The Honeybadger” Ffion Davies. The Welsh submission artist competing out of New York is set to compete in one of those new events that has provided a platform for BJJ practitioners worldwide, Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship.  The promotion’s fourth event, taking place at the Dojo de Paris this Saturday on May 18, showcases high level matches while also providing something for the broader MMA fans perhaps not as familiar with grappling only events.  For example, this even is headlined by home country talent and highly regarded UFC lightweight Benoit Saint Denis in a grappling match against English UFC vet Marc Diakiese.  In the co-headliner, Davies takes on American talent Morgan Black on a card that features fourteen matches overall.

ADXC is a new player in a field that is increasingly catering to the worldwide audience that loves and practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  While respected tournaments such as ADCC have gained an injection of new momentum partnering with the UFC to air on their Fight Pass service, other events such as the UFC Fight Pass Invitational also give grapplers a highly publicized platform on which to showcase their skills.  Beyond that, promotions such as ONE Championship have put more attention on their grappling divisions by crowning and promoting champions like Mikey Musumeci and Danielle Kelly.  At 29 years-old, Davies says having so many options just as a grappler makes things exciting as a competitor:

“It’s a really exciting time because it’s like you said, it was kind of get to a point where you achieve those Jiu-Jitsu goals like in IBJJF or the tournament circuit and then you’re like, well now I need to make money to either eventually open a school or other plans people may have. It’s natural, even now people are like ‘when are you going to do MMA?’ but now with like seminars, shows, and all these events we have, and there’s a lot of pressure on events now to make sure there’s prize money as well I think that’s becoming more the thing. I feel like it’s an exciting time. ADCC added an additional women’s division and an absolute so that side of the sport is also growing which is cool. But it’s also overwhelming because then you don’t know ‘should I sign with this or like should I go here and fight here’ there’s no real off season so you kind of have to pick and choose and prioritize like that. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes.”

One of the most often asked questions to the elite grapplers is inevitably: when will you transition to MMA? It’s not an unfair inquiry, after all Royce Gracie and his family essentially built the sport with a Jiu-Jitsu background and talented grapplers like Demian Maia, Charles Oliveira, and Mackenzie Dern have all gone on to exceptional careers in the years since primarily with a submission heavy attack.  But the newest opportunities for grapplers have made it so there is not as much pressure to put on the gloves if they want the financial and competitive rewards.  While Davies admits she would love the challenge of embarking on the journey, she says there is only so much time left for her to commit to it while also undertaking the other ambitions she has.

“I kind of go back-and-forth on it to be honest. I do feel like it’s not a necessity  anymore which is really cool. I do kind of think people need to understand it’s not the same sport. I don’t think it’s a natural progression. I think it’s very much a separate sport which is why it’s really impressive to me when someone comes from like a Jiu-Jitsu background and then gets to like the highest level in the UFC. That’s crazy to me because you have to learn like this whole new thing of striking and wrestling because a lot of Jiu-Jitsu people aren’t proficient at wrestling or in the stand up. So there is that thing of like, I respect MMA enough to know that you can’t just wander in and hop in the cage and be like ‘oh my Jiu-Jitsu is going to save me’ I have to really dedicate a lot of time to all sorts of aspects of the game to actually get to a level where I could be competitive and it’s even safe for me to do it.”

For now, Davies is looking to have another exceptional showing at ADXC.  Her last outing saw a brilliant throttling of current ninth ranked UFC strawweight Luana Pinheiro as Davies submitted her in under a minute.  Now taking on Morgan Black, Davies explains understanding the different styles of grapplers when everyone is exclusively using BJJ:

“I’d say we have very similar games to be honest. But I think style wise some people would like to say they pass guard or maybe they favor bottom. Maybe they invert a lot it’s kind of a lot of variations like that. I consider myself very much like a top player. I do like to play guard as well but I prefer to be on top because I just think if you can wrestle someone and take them down that’s the best path to victory. I come from like a judo background so I like to exchange in the standup as well.”

Ffion Davies has showcased her skills worldwide on the tournament circuit and in newer events such as Medusa and Polaris, all en route to cementing her place as one of the top grapplers, male or female, in the world today.  Outside of ADXC, she says she has her sights set on another great showing at ADCC and perhaps pursuing championship gold in one of the larger promotions.

“ADCC is the biggest thing coming up and this year I sort of opted out of gi season. Because in Jiu-Jitsu we’ve got no-gi and we’ve got the gi and this event is no-gi. So I’m focused on that. Normally I do both but again it becomes too much, I don’t want to get burned out. That’s another thing, avoiding burnout with all the events all the time. So I opted out of the gi season just to focus on no-gi. Each event I’m always going [out there] to win, I’m always going to try my best but I also need to make sure I’m pushing myself to try new things in these matches before the biggest event which is ADCC. Then after that I would really like to delve into like fighting for something like ONE or whatever it is because that’s kind of like the pinnacle. Getting to do that. I like how Jiu-Jitsu is getting treated almost in the same way as MMA with shows and things and that puts pressure on IBJJF and these events to pay athletes more. Because if I can go fight in a show and have one match and it’s fun and it’s a great experience, we’re out here [with ADXC] all week. There’s a media team, they treat us well. That’s the kind of thing you want to do.”

Ffion Davies takes on Morgan Black at ADXC 4 this Saturday May 18 at the Dojo de Paris in Paris, France. Fans can watch the event at TX7.com