Hannah Cifers once fought in a parking lot.
Granted, it was a sanctioned bout that took place in a ring, but still, the thought of the exceptionally cordial Cifers scrapping in a parking lot is a humorous one. It’s a reminder that every mixed martial artist sees a smorgasbord of venues before they make it to bigger promotions, and it’s because of that climb up the ranks that fighters are likely the most well-equipped athletes to conducting their business in a socially distant environment. And perhaps no athlete on the roster is more excited for that than Cifers.
“The pressure from being on the big show is a lot more than what I thought it was,” Cifers said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. It’s like a dream to actually fight in the UFC, but you want to perform really well there, but you’re also in front of or getting viewed by a lot of people, so it’s just a lot of pressure on both sides. I want to perform well when I’m there.”
Cifers, a North Carolina native, stepped into the added pressure of fighting in her home state when she took on Angela Hill in Raleigh. She lost the January bout via second-round TKO, bringing her UFC record to an even 2-2, but heading into her May 30 bout with Mackenzie Dern, Cifers is warm to the idea of taking a business trip.
“It was nice to get to fight in the home state, but I think I like fighting away from a little more,” she said. “A lot less pressure.”
While Dern is one of the most decorated jiu-jitsu practitioners on the roster, Cifers pointed out she’s the one who holds the upper hand when it comes to mixed martial arts experience. And that experience has helped “Shockwave” get into the flow of all that comes with competing in MMA’s largest promotion, a reality she hadn’t anticipated when she first started training jiu-jitsu at 19 years old for self-defense reasons.
But soon enough, the itch to fight grew. It wasn’t from out of nowhere, though. Cifers watched the early UFC cards with her parents when she was younger, gravitating toward Royce Gracie because of his ability to defeat much larger opponents.
“I just thought it’d be fun to fight,” Cifers said. “At the time, I never thought I’d be in the UFC like I am now.”
That insurmountable thought is her life now, and on the bright side, it has allowed her the opportunity to meet her MMA heroes, including Junior Dos Santos, whose moniker “Cigano” is the inspiration for her dog’s name.
Ultimately, though, Cifers is most excited to get another chance to show how she has improved since she made her first foray into the Octagon in November 2018. The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t impacted her training regimen too much, nor has it really changed her day-to-day life.
With that said, the UFC Apex is definitely an upgrade from a North Carolina parking lot.
“I feel pretty good,” Cifers said. “I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work.”