In the aftermath of Felicia Spencer’s most recent fight against Cris Cyborg, she received praise for her performance. People complimented her in person and on her social media accounts, which is admittedly weird when the result of the fight was a unanimous decision loss – Spencer’s first as a pro - to the former featherweight champ.
“It kind of sucked to lose,” she told UFC.com. “At first, people were saying, ‘Congratulations. It was amazing.’ And I’m like, ‘Wait, that’s not the right word to use.’ But it just kept coming, honestly. There was a lot of support coming in. It was definitely nice to see.”
That bout turned out to be the final one for Cyborg under the UFC banner, extinguishing the possibility of a rematch between her and Amanda Nunes for the featherweight title. That reality, along with the fact that Nunes hasn’t defended the 145-pound crown since taking it from Cyborg more than a year ago, has the women’s featherweight division in an odd spot.
For Spencer, however, there’s no question as to what her intention is heading into her fight with Zarah Fairn in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night co-main event in Norfolk.
“I want to make a statement that I’m going to get a title shot,” Spencer said. “I want to make a statement to myself. I want to show myself that I’m able to be myself in the cage again and be clear and execute when I want to. And for the rest of the world, I want to show that the rest of my skills are real, and I’m not just good at taking punches. I can give them, also.”
In Spencer’s mind, that statement is always packed with the intention of a first-round finish. In her UFC debut, Spencer made good on that goal when she submitted Megan Anderson midway through the first frame in Rochester.
Coincidentally, her new opponent is coming off a debut loss in which she was submitted by Anderson in the first round when the two squared off in Melbourne during UFC 243.
However, don’t expect Spencer to just seek opportunities to get the fight to the mat. She expressed excitement and curiosity about the challenges and answers she could provide with her standup game.
“I’m ready to take the fight where I need it to go,” Spencer said. “I’m excited to see how things play out on our feet. Of course, stylistically, she’s known more as a striker. I’m known more as a ground fighter, so we’ll see what happens, but I think there could be some fun things that happen on our feet, too.”
While Spencer is eager to show off her entire arsenal of skills, she feels like this camp particularly opened her eyes to a new level of aggression. Whether that was borne from suffering her first loss or just regaining a sense of motivation to stake her claim as the No. 1 contender is beside the point. If she makes good on that, she’ll make a strong statement that she could, in fact, take on the “Lioness” next.
“I know I felt in this camp that when I’m in the midst of training, I do feel like I’ve been able to draw more intensity and more drive, kind of like violence in my training,” she said. “When we’re going, when it’s time to go, it’s like I really feel like I’ve been bringing that to the table a lot more, and I think part of that is having my loss and feeling that after the loss. But I’ve been able to implement it a lot in this fight camp preparing for Zarah.”
The “FeeNom” said the mental aspect of her game has developed the most in terms of allowing herself to have a clear mind in both training and recovery as the fight draws near.
“I don’t fight myself so much, anymore,” she said. “I let things happen. I just reflect on them and go from there.”
In short, although she was happy to welcome newfound fans after UFC 240, she’s in no way settling for moral victories when the Octagon door closes on February 29.
“I can definitely look back at the fight and see things that I could’ve done a lot better, different ways I could have capitalized on different things,” Spencer said. “I’m going to use that motivation to have the best performance of my life on Saturday.”
For more information and updates, sign up for the UFC Newsletter here.