Editor Note: This article was published prior to the UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson event change. Nate Diaz will now fight Tony Ferguson in the main event, Khamzat Chimaev will fight Kevin Holland in a catchweight (180) co-main event and Li Jingliang will fight Daniel Rodriguez in a catchweight (180) bout. | Order UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson
Making your professional mixed martial arts debut on the “world’s most intense job interview” isn’t exactly normal, per se, but it’s the path Danyelle Wolf took when she appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2020 sporting an 0-0 record.
Wolf spent the previous 12 years as a boxer, where she became the three-time USA National Champion in the welterweight division. After waiting years for the Olympics to add her weight class to the competition’s slate, she finally turned her eyes to MMA. In her debut, she earned a unanimous decision victory over Taniesha Tennant and a UFC contract.
“It was a really cool experience,” Wolf told UFC.com. “It was definitely a weird time, but I’m so excited. It was such a cool learning experience. It was the first time I cut to 145, so that was a learning experience within itself. This weight cut was cake. Everything was a learning experience. It was awesome. I’m definitely prepared for this fight and I’m really excited to take what I learned from the first one.”
Despite her positive view on the experience now, she did admit that the fight taking place in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic made it challenging to form a real training camp. After the fight, Wolf also dealt with a dislocated finger and essentially had to wait two years to make her UFC debut in her second pro MMA fight. All that matters now, however, is that she got the contract, and she feels unequivocally prepared to make the walk.
Now training with Alliance MMA in San Diego, Wolf put in all the hours on the mat rounding out her game, which she gets to test against Norma Dumont at UFC 279.
Although she is a boxer through and through, MMA was always the plan according to Wolf. Boxing was just the start of that journey, but the success she found prolonged the journey to the Octagon. Now, with a decorated list of accolades to her name, she is eager to finally make her dream come true in the UFC.
“This is everything I’ve always wanted,” she said. “I stayed on boxing longer than I expected, but I’ve always wanted to do MMA, and I’ve always wanted to be in the UFC, and I’m here. It’s a very exciting card. I’m really appreciative of the opportunity, and I’m just ready to take advantage of it all.”
From Thailand to New Zealand and everywhere in between, Wolf spent several years sharpening her all-around MMA game to prepare for this moment, and she knows despite all the time she has behind the ropes of a boxing ring, the Octagon is a completely different challenge.
That said, between her Olympic-caliber credentials on the feet and just the general intrigue of someone fighting in the UFC with a 1-0 record, Wolf’s debut has plenty of buzz around it. None of that is making its way into her psyche. Instead, she’s ready to drink it all in and get her second mixed martial arts victory in style.
“No pressure,” Wolf said. “It’s all about preparation. If you’re prepared, there’s no pressure. If you’re not prepared, there’s going to be pressure. We’re so prepared. We’ve done everything 50,000 times, so I feel confident. I feel confident with this team. I feel great.”