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Melissa Dixon of England punches Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Melissa Mullins: "I Feel Like I'm Always The Underdog"

Bantamweight Melissa Mullins Makes Her Second Octagon Appearance Against Nora Cornolle At UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Curtis 2 

Melissa Mullins knows that there’s no “one size fits all” reason as to why people choose to put on four-ounce gloves and step into the Octagon for a mixed martial arts fight.

“Everyone's individual to what they need,” she said. “I guess people are fighting for their own reasons. People are fighting for their kids. People are fighting to earn that 50K bonus. So, whatever gets them through it.”

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As for “No Mess” Mullins, she’s got her own reasons, too.

“I'm fighting because I like it,” she laughs. “I can stop at any point and take my foot off the pedal and not push my body to exhaustion every day. But I like fighting, I like having a dingdong and fortunately I've got a few more years left in me before I can be like, ‘Yeah, okay cool. I'm done.’”

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Good thing we’ve got a few more years of the Coventry product, who makes her second Octagon appearance on Saturday against Nora Cornolle. In her first, she showed why fight fans were so high on her as she won a three-round unanimous decision over highly touted Irina Alekseeva. The victory lifted her pro record to 6-0, and while nothing’s perfect on a fight week, she passed her tests with flying colors at the APEX in Las Vegas.

“The first rodeo, as they call it, was a lot better than first perceived,” she said. “It was very nerve wracking, et cetera on fight day. A lot more nerve wracking than I wanted it to be. But I think going in this time I'm in a better head space regarding my life. I'm in a happier head space, so I think this outing is going to be a lot more comfortable.”

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Having a slick armbar or a thudding left hook is nice, but having the cool to use those tools when the lights are on and everybody’s watching is another thing entirely. So though many people see prizefighters as superheroes that pop out of the sky and into the ring or Octagon, they are human and they need to be right in the head to perform at their best.

Melissa Mullins of England punches Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Melissa Mullins of England punches Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I think having peace of mind, building up to the fight is definitely something that's a lot more reflective of a realistic situation to think about,” Mullins explains. “Because you want to make sure you're stable and you want to make sure what's around you is regular and routine, and, at the same time, giving yourself as little pressure as possible to do the task in hand. I think that's a lot harder to contend with than people actually care to believe or care to acknowledge. And obviously if you have an easier buildup to that, then life's going to be nice and settled going into the cage. But I believe that every fighter has to deal with hardship and difficulty before they reach to the level of Leon (Edwards) or Israel (Adesanya), for example. You have to put in that hard work and that grind and those difficult weeks building up to the fight that should be expected. And then when the time comes for you to not have to deal with that sort of thing, it's a lot more appreciated.”

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It's a work in progress, then, but to make it to the UFC in five pro fights means that there isn’t much margin for error. And to stay undefeated, to boot, that shows Mullins’ upside. That doesn’t mean she’s perfect.

“I lose against my friend in every single sport I challenge him against,” she laughs. “So yeah, I lose often.”

Not on fight night, though. And that zero in her loss column is rightfully a source of pride for the 32-year-old, who wants to keep it there after this weekend’s bout.

Melissa Mullins of England reacts after her victory against Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Melissa Mullins of England reacts after her victory against Irina Alekseeva of Kazakstan in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“Honestly, I want to maintain the zero and, going forward, I set the vision to be 7-0, but there's only two people in the cage, isn't it? One of us has got to lose.”

Mullins expects it to be Cornolle.

“I feel like I've had a lot more adversity in my fights,” she said. “I feel like I fought harder opponents as a professional and I've not fought bums. So I feel like my experience in the cage has been a rougher ride and I've come out the other side of it.”

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And she’s done it by fighting with the attitude of an underdog, not a favorite. But as she puts it, that’s the role she’s always felt she was given.

“I feel like I’m always the underdog,” said Mullins. “Everyone overlooks me most of the time. I feel that since I started fighting, only my team are the ones that really believe in me, which is as expected.”

That support is growing, though, with Mullins’ fanbase growing with each win. So even though this is a serious sport and she’s a serious young lady, she is making time to take it all in.

“I enjoy it every day,” she said. “I could be working in Tesco, packing bags, or I could be working in a sport center, packing away benches. So, a hundred percent, I enjoy doing this. And even when training, you turn up and it's hard and you don't want to be there, if you have a good session, you go away and you're smiling.”

UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Curtis 2 took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 6, 2024. See the final Prelim and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!