Manon Fiorot’s UFC debut went about as well as one could hope. She won, of course, but the way in which she did so had the commentary booth wondering if they were watching the introduction of a future star in the flyweight division. The France native put her full skill set on display: technical and aggressive striking borne from a karate and Muay Thai background, strong offensive and defensive grappling, and fearsome finishing instincts to earn a stoppage in the second round. For Fiorot, the experience was “perfect,” and it provided an excitingly stable foundation for what could come next.
Although the well-roundedness in her game is especially encouraging, the way she pounced on Victoria Leonardo after landing a front-side head kick to get the TKO victory shed some light on how she approaches her fights.
“I don’t want the judges to choose the winner,” Fiorot told UFC.com. “I’m here to win and to fight, so absolutely I want to show my skills. I see a knockout, for sure.”
That is music to fight fans’ ears, surely. It also falls in line with Fiorot’s desire to get into the Top 15 of the ever-growing flyweight division this year, and the next step on that climb comes Saturday.
Of course, the fight game is a fickle beast. Fiorot said she had three months’ notice to prepare for a bout at UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – much more time than her debut. However, some of that prep got tossed out of the window when undefeated debutant Tabatha Ricci stepped in for Maryna Moroz. Although the matchup isn’t as eye-catching in terms of names, Fiorot knows she still has business to handle on June 5.
“My job is fighting, so I’m here to fight,” she said. “If I have to choose, I’d choose a more experienced fighter and a higher-ranked fighter, but this is what it is, so I’m focused on this fight and want to win this with a spectacular move.”
It seems like a simple formula, really. Perform well, throw something cool and earn a stoppage win but, of course, it’s easier to say than to do. Ricci comes to the UFC with an undefeated record, and given Fiorot’s impressive performance last time out, there’s some hype up for grabs if Fiorot looks past the Brazilian.
However, Fiorot’s 6-1 professional record belies her combat experience. After a successful amateur karate and Muay Thai career, Fiorot competed in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championships as a member of France’s national team, capturing the gold medal in 2017. She parlayed that success into her pro career, becoming the first French woman to earn a win in the Octagon. With mixed martial arts competition legally recognized in France, Fiorot stands as a bit of a trailblazer, and while she accepts that position wholeheartedly, she also understands the best thing she could do to fulfill that role is to achieve as much as she possibly can.
“I’m so proud to represent France and to be the first woman (from France) to win a UFC fight,” Fiorot said. “But, for now, I think about myself and my win. We’ll see after that.”
To say Fiorot’s future looks bright is both obvious and cliché after the kind of debut performance she put on earlier in 2021. Her ambition to find herself in the rankings by year’s end, in addition to her attitude toward finishing fights, is definitely encouraging for the 31-year-old, but she knows the first order of business is Tabatha Ricci on June 5.
“I take my fights step by step,” Fiorot said. “We’ll see after the fight. I really want to do an awesome performance on Saturday night…If I do the job like I want, perhaps I call for a more highly-ranked fighter.”