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Roxanne Modafferi excited to prove growth in rematch with Jennifer Maia: ‘I’ve unlocked my next power level’

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Roxanne Modafferi will compete in the Invicta FC 19 main event Saturday.Roxanne Modafferi will compete in the Invicta FC 19 main event Saturday. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Even with 37 professional fights and 13 years in the sport of MMA, Roxanne Modafferi is not done evolving.

The former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC title challenger claims to have hit a new level in her fighting career, and after recently handing Antonina Shevchenko her first professional loss in impressive fashion back in April, it’s hard to deny her.

On July 20 at UFC San Antonio in Texas, Modafferi will have a another chance to showcase her improved game. “The Happy Warrior” was originally scheduled to fight fellow veteran Liz Carmouche, but Carmouche was pulled from the bout and given a chance to challenge flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC Uruguay.

Modafferi will now meet Brazilian striker Jennifer Maia.

“At first I was a little bummed because I’ve been training stuff specifically for Liz, but the UFC immediately promised to find me somebody else,” Modafferi told MMA Fighting. “They mentioned Jennifer Maia and I got really excited because I’ve been wanting to rematch her for a while now.

“I fought her at Invicta FC about three years ago and I lost via split decision for the title. I was hoping that she would get signed to the UFC as well, and then she got signed, so I was so excited, but then she lost her first fight and I thought, ‘No, she now has to climb through the ranks in order to fight (me) again,’ but now that she’s back in the top 10 I’m like, ‘Yes, let’s do this.’ I’m super excited.”

The rematch with Maia is perhaps a better opportunity for Modafferi to showcase her improvement in recent times, given she came up short against the former Invicta FC flyweight champion less than three years ago. Modafferi is confident the rematch will go differently.

“Man, my impression of that [first] fight was very even, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if I won and I wouldn’t have been surprised if I lost,” Modafferi said. “We just went to battle, so I wasn’t sure about it, but this time it shall be different because I have grown and I have achieved. I’ve unlocked my next power level, so it should be an amazing performance in my next fight.”

There are several factors that have contributed to Modafferi’s growth. A combination of her coaches, friends, training partners and relentless determination have been all been key for the 36-year-old flyweight contender.

“I have a great team and a great set up right now in my career,” Modafferi said. “I have coach John Wood – the head coach at Syndicate, Mike Pyle is my head grappling coach, Lorenzo Pavlica is my strength and conditioning coach, so I feel like the three of them are really guiding me very, very well.

“I started working with Lorenzo for about three years ago. Right after my fight with Maia, and you know, it takes a while to build up muscle. I really feel like I have a hard time building muscle, like my body type doesn't put up muscle and strength easily, so I think finally after a few years of working with him the results are finally starting to become more apparent than in the past.

“[Joanne] Calderwood coming into syndicate has also been awesome. I think she came here about two years ago and man she’s just a great training partner for me. I love my team and new partners, but just having her specially, like we’re very similar level. Every time we foil each other’s move we ask coach John how to overcome that and then he teaches us, so it’s just a really great dynamic there.

“I feel like I’m the best version of Roxy, the strongest version of Roxy, the healthiest version of Roxy. I just feel great.”

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