LFA makes its way to the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minn. on Friday night for another action-packed night of fights.
The LFA 142 main event features a women’s strawweight title fight when the Brazilian champion Jaqueline Amorim (5-0) defends her title and undefeated record against Canadian and proud member of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Ashley Nichols (4-3).
“I’m very excited to fight for LFA again,” Nichols said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I am really thankful for the opportunity and the experience. I’m looking forward to a five-round fight and it means a lot to be able to go for a title.”
Nichols, a GLORY kickboxing veteran, is also a multiple-time world champion and Canadian national champion in Muay Thai. The decorated striker decided to return to MMA earlier this year after stepping away from competition for a few years.
The comeback fight for Nichols was a positive one as she defeated Dana White’s Contender Series alumni Hilarie Rose on the same card that Amorim headlined and won the strawweight championship.
“It was such a good performance,” Nichols explained.
“Before the fight I was almost doubting myself. I was doubting my ability, my skills and if I was still a fighter after such a long break. To finally show off my skill set and how I’ve evolved was amazing. I’m super thankful for the performance and the win. It shows that I’m still a competitor and have lots more to give.”
Since returning to the cage, Nichols, 36, has been training at the highly-touted Niagara Top Team.
With an abundance of talent at her disposal, Nichols continues to improve as a martial artist. The longtime striker has looked to focus on improving her grappling while maintaining her high-level footwork.
“Training camp has been great. There’s definitely been a lot of focus on wrestling. With all the great fighters at Niagara Top Team, I kept hearing about them so I made the move and the rest is history. I’ve been here for a year and a bit. This place feels like home now,” Nichols said.
“In my last couple losses back in Invicta it was a result of getting taken down. It was tough to deal with. Niagara Top Team is a wrestling-heavy gym, so I’ve improved a lot. But also my style of striking has evolved so much too; the way I feint and move with my footwork and the way I think through my striking. I’m not just trying to throw combos and overwhelm my opponent.”
Nichols has a lot of respect for the credentials of her opponent heading into their main event bout.
Amorim is a multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and received her black belt shortly after her twentieth birthday and hasn’t looked back since. She’s finished all of her fights in the first round, with four of those coming by submission.
“I definitely have to respect her grappling and her jiu-jitsu skills,” Nichols explained.
“That’s definitely what I think of first. She has a solid skillset, but I need to focus on what I’m doing and my strengths. If it does go to the ground we’re prepared, but the focus is on my striking and my wrestling defence. I used to be a pressure fighter, using a lot of combos, going forward and trying to overwhelm my opponent with every strike. In this fight it’s about movement, footwork and keeping my range and managing distance. It’s about establishing my jab and setting her up for counters.”
With all of her combat experience and feeling like she’s in her prime physically, Nichols still has her sights set on an opportunity with a major promotion. Capturing the LFA strawweight title this Friday would help bolster her resume and catch the attention of those promoters.
“I definitely want to be an example of strength and empowerment and have an exciting performance. Not just to impress the fans but to inspire people,” Nichols said.
“I know I’m going to continue to get better and grow as a fighter. I think I’m worthy of being in a big promotion, so that is definitely still a goal of mine. I’d love to get any opportunity but I’ll take it one fight at a time. The next fight is always the most important fight. That’s all I can think about right now is showing up Friday and performing the best I can.”
“Thanks to my coaches, Chris Prickett and Matt Dimarcantonio, all my teammates at Niagara Top Team and my sponsors: Laulau Botanicals, Oneida Organics, Sovereign Smoke Ontario, Experior Financial Group Inc., Smokers Paradise Gift Shop, Thunderbird Trust, Oneida Nation of the Thames, Chippewas of the Thames, Anishinabek Nation, Kliq MMA.” Follow Nichols on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM