With two fighters coming from relatively similar backgrounds, it’s always hard to find a clear winner. In the upcoming UFC 161 “Evans vs. Henderson” bout between Alexis Davis and Rosi “The Surgeon” Sexton, the clear physical advantage goes to Davis, who sports a three-inch height advantage and four inches of reach. Four inches is very significant in punching distance, and Sexton is going to have to watch out for that stiff jab when going for an exchange. That being said, Sexton doesn’t quite fit into the common “MMA fighter stereotype,” as she is a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science, is a sports therapist, osteopath, and writer. Since ancient times, martial arts masters have supplemented their physical training with different, seemingly unrelated, mental pursuits. The famous quote “to learn the sword, study the guitar” from Japan’s Kensei (sword saint), Miyamoto Musashi, suggests that mastering the arts and academia lead to a higher mastery of the martial form itself. As an osteopath, Sexton has superior knowledge of human body’s inner workings, and that certainly translates to her fighting by helping her know where to strike where it really hurts.
Sexton’s big brain may still not save her from her opponent, as Davis is currently ranked the number six pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, and fourth at 135 pounds. Davis is extremely well-rounded, with black belts in both Japanese and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and was formerly the Canadian open grappling champion. With seven of her 13 wins by submission, and training from Cesar Gracie, she has a serious grappling game, and if this fight ends up on the ground it will be one of the most technical fights of the night.
Sexton’s submission record matches her opponent’s exactly, with seven out of 13 of her wins coming by tap out. Sexton is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black belt in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, and black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She has fought in both EliteXC and Bellator, while Davis has fought in Strikeforce. Both of these women come from incredible backgrounds – Davis having fought the famous Kyra Gracie, and Sexton giving Gina Carano a serious run for her money in their last fight. These women are so similar that it’s hard to see a clear winner.
Coming off a loss, Davis wants to prove that she deserves a shot at Ronda Rousey, and Sexton knows this all too well. In Sexton’s blog, she writes that she believes her to be a legit fighter, but getting on in years. Davis is quoted saying she thinks the majority of the fight will end up on the ground, and Sexton takes this to mean that Davis will try and knock her out while standing.
Davis has great footwork and ring control, knows how to use the cage to her advantage, and has a very technical and patient style of engaging her opponents. Her leg-kicks are on point, as is her clinch game and her ground movement. Davis’s calm and calculating style will definitely clash with Sexton’s, as the Surgeon is known for being a bully fighter who likes to bum rush her opponents against the cage and work strikes and takedowns from the clinch. She is extremely energetic, has great ground and pound, and her heavy hands have been the bane of many of her opponents.
With woman’s MMA growing as quickly as it is, the world watches eagerly as more female fighters come out of the woodwork and into bigger leagues. As previously stated, this UFC fight could go to either one of these women, and I expect that both fighters are prepared to grind it out to a decision if need be. Davis may be disappointed that she hasn’t gotten her shot at Rousey’s belt yet, but if she can keep from ending up like Tomomi Sunaba did against the Surgeon, she may just get her chance.