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MMA: Rousey adds ‘pressure’ as women share UFC limelight in Macau

American Elizabeth Phillips (left) faces Russia’s Milana Dudieva on Saturday at The Venetian Macao, where Ronda Rousey will be among those watching the UFC’s first-ever women’s fight in Asia. Photos: SportAsia.

American Elizabeth Phillips (left) faces Russia’s Milana Dudieva on Saturday at The Venetian Macao, where Ronda Rousey will be among those watching the UFC’s first-ever women’s fight in Asia. Photos: SportAsia.

August 21, 2014: Elizabeth Phillips is confident of ‘dominating’ Russian Milana Dudieva at UFC Fight Night Macao on Saturday, but admitted Ronda Rousey’s presence at The Venetian will add to the pressure of competing in the organisation’s first women’s fight in Asia.

 

After a loss in her pro debut in 2012, Phillips won four straight fights for Conquest of the Cage before making her UFC debut at short notice this June – as a late replacement for Dudieva in Canada.

 

Phillips, who turned 28 on Wednesday, lost a split decision to Valeria Letourneau, but is excited to get the chance to make amends in a groundbreaking fight for the UFC, as it uses the growing appeal of women’s MMA to establish a foothold in Asia.

 

Phillips will be looking to make up for a split-decision loss on her UFC debut in June.

Phillips will be looking to make up for a split-decision loss on her UFC debut in June.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the fight. It’s definitely a mark in UFC women’s history and the odds of it for me to be involved are pretty slim, so I feel pretty blessed,” Phillips told SportAsia.

 

“Women’s MMA is growing. I can’t say that all the fights are exciting, but a lot of people like to see women fight. They go at it and it’s a lot more personal for them. Women go hard and they go at it, and a lot of people like to watch that and see that.”

 

Despite losing in Canada, the former college sports star believes June’s performance – after being given just over a week’s notice – helped earn her a spot in a bout that’s sharing the spotlight in Macau with headliners Michael Bisping and Cung Le and co-headliners Kim Dong-hyun and Tyron Woodley.

 

“For my first UFC fight, I think they thought I fought very well considering I got called up on a week’s notice. Also, I had cut 25 pounds two weeks before that, so I wasn’t feeling that well, so it was a pretty rough couple of weeks for me. This time, they called me up like a month before, so I’m pretty fortunate.”

 

Phillips will have the added pressure of performing in front of Rousey, arguably the UFC’s biggest star since signing with Dana White’s organisation and defending the newly created bantamweight title four times from February 2013.

 

Having extended her MMA record to 10-0 last month with a 16-second stoppage of Alexis Davis, Rousey is now in Macau to help promote Saturday’s fight, as well as attend The Expendables 3 premiere. Phillips admits that the presence of the 2008 Olympic judo bronze medallist in the Cotai Arena has raised the stakes.

 

UFC boss Dana White and women’s champion Ronda Rousey will watch Saturday’s fight.

UFC boss Dana White and women’s champion Ronda Rousey will watch Saturday’s fight.

“I’m glad that they’re here, as it’s obviously important. The pressure’s on, but I think that I’ll perform very well. It’s not something I’ll be thinking about when I’m fighting, but I think it’s really fortunate that they’re coming here and promoting it for us,” said Phillips, who had never met Rousey before.

 

“I’ve watched her fights and I’m always excited to see her performance. I definitely respect her and she’s been a huge face for women’s MMA. Her coming in and doing what she does has made it possible for me to be here. She definitely is a huge part of it.”

 

The down-to-earth Phillips is quietly confident of a win against the solidly built Dudieva, who has a 10-3 record in MMA from 2009, but will be making her UFC debut on Saturday.

 

“I know that she’s not really strong in one specific style of fighting. She’s been fighting for a little longer than me, about five years or so. She looks pretty strong. I kind of know what to expect – she’ll try to shoot in or something like that – but I think I’ll be able to dominate in any area,” said Phillips, whose opponent cites wrestling as her main strength.

 

“I think wrestling is my strength, too. I’ve never been taken down. My top game is very strong, but my striking’s very strong, too. I think I can be dominant in any area.”

 

Macau is the latest step in a rapid journey for Phillips, who only started training for MMA at the age of 24, after leaving college where she excelled in a range of sports including sprinting, soccer, swimming, basketball and softball.

 

Despite having no martial arts background, her explosive power and competitive nature made her a natural inside the octagon and she believes that she’ll one day earn a shot at a title that Rousey currently holds.

 

“I didn’t think about fighting until I got out of college. My friends got me into it because I’ve always being competitive, I’ve been aggressive and an athlete my whole life. It was something that my friends thought I should do, so they took me to the gym and I fell in love with training ever since,” Phillips said.

 

“Now, I need to start evolving. My game is constantly getting better. I need to start just winning fights and moving up in the ranks, and I’ll definitely get my spot at a title shot, for sure.”

 

For more information on UFC Fight Night Macao: Bisping vs Le, visit: http://www.ufc.com/event/ufc-fight-night-macao-cotai-arena

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