The future of the UFC’s women’s featherweight division might be up in the air, but none of that matters right now for top contenders Felicia Spencer and Norma Dumont.
Canada’s Spencer (8-2) and Brazil’s Dumont (5-1) are set to face off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 188 this Saturday after Spencer’s original opponent, Danyelle Wolf, dropped out due to injury.
For Spencer, 30, this will be her first time back in the octagon since competing for the title just under one year ago and during her time off she had the opportunity to re-evaluate her game and make adjustments.
“I spent a lot of time just going back to some basics and rebuilding my base and being comfortable making decisions based on what’s in front of me instead of having a one-track mind about things,” Spencer said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It wasn’t how I normally fight, but it’s how I was feeling in my last fight, just thinking about this or that in particular and how it’s not working. A lot of what I tried to do is regain the creative part of my fighting.”
Coming off a big win in her last outing, Dumont, 30, steps in as a replacement and brings more experience and a more complete MMA game than former champion boxer Wolf.
Dumont’s striking, in particular, has come a long way as she continues to show improvement each time out.
“I train to evolve in all areas, but with each fight I feel more confident in myself. With each fight I get more experienced and more comfortable inside the cage,” Dumont said in an interview with MMA Empire.
Spencer acclimated to big moments
Spencer’s opponent being changed three weeks out from the fight didn’t prove to be much of an issue. If anything, she said it’s extra motivation taking on a more experienced fighter.
“It makes for some changes, but honestly a lot of what I was doing was great for my new opponent as well, as far as the game plan and things I was working on,” Spencer said.
“Obviously, part of the game plan changed from not facing a boxer; I obviously didn’t want to box a boxer. Now I have more of an opening to feel a bit more comfortable using my hands, but at the end of the day it’s an MMA fight and I feel like this is a better matchup for me taking on a more well-rounded opponent because I get to prove I’m better everywhere. Without a doubt, she’s a tough opponent and I’m not overlooking her. I think she definitely poses a threat, but it’s one that I’m ready for and I’m excited about.”
Spencer is no stranger to coming up big when it matters most, being the former Invicta FC champ and having both of her UFC wins come by stoppage in the first round. Spencer is always moving forward and pressing the action, which is why she said her fights are always exciting.
“That’s definitely my style,” Spencer said.
“Part of it is like survival, the longer I’m in there the more at risk I am. Even if I’m winning two and a half rounds, it only takes a second for everything to change. That’s the driving force for why I want to finish the fight and get out of there. I don’t want to rush, but I understand the dangers of being in there.”
On Saturday night Dumont will look to stake a claim to a top contender spot while Spencer begins the road to getting another crack at the UFC belt.
As always, Spencer is looking to take advantage of her openings and make a statement in the octagon.
“I don’t want to rush to any one thing,” Spencer said.
“I’m going to flow and, whether it’s strikes or taking it to the ground, I’m going to just react to what I need to and impose my will. I’m always pushing for a first round finish, we’ll see what happens. I’m more than ready for all three if I need it.”
Dumont trusts ground game
Dumont is also aware of the danger that Spencer poses and has a lot of respect for the former title challenger.
Most of Spencer’s wins come from asserting herself on the ground, but Dumont is prepared and believes she can control the fight wherever it goes.
“She is an athlete who brings danger on top and on the ground. She is experienced and certainly very resistant. She is a great grappler and likes to push the action,” Dumont said.
“I trust my grappling a lot, so if the fight goes to the ground, it won’t be a problem for me. I prepare myself every day for the toughest fight of my life, regardless of the opponent. I feel stronger and more prepared physically and technically every day of training. I see a tough, bloody and possibly three-round fight.”
“My team and my cornermen, of course. Also like to shoutout my teammates who are fighting soon: Ari Melendez (Invicta) and Luke Pustay (Combat Night MMA).” Follow Spencer on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM
“I always thank my husband, Johny Vieira, who has been my coach since the beginning and taught me everything I know to this day. And my physical trainer, Alexandre Alves, who turned me into a machine for this fight.” Follow Dumont on social media: TWITTER, INSTAGRAM