Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson will stand across the Octagon at UFC Rochester, but they are fighting for a common goal.
Spencer (6-0) will make her UFC debut on Saturday as the undefeated Invicta FC featherweight champion, a title her opponent Anderson has also held. Spencer told Bloody Elbow they have more in common than some may think.
“I feel a healthy amount of pressure. I feel very comfortable at the same time. I don’t feel anxiety or bad feelings towards myself. I feel like there is pressure on both of us to perform well,” she expressed. “Right now, we’re not just fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting for our division. A good showing is really important to show it’s not just about one-trick ponies in the featherweight division. There are women that deserve to be here. This is definitely my time to make a statement.”
Many fighters would prefer a slow burn up the UFC ladder, but Spencer has immediately been tossed into the featherweight deep-end with one of the division’s top contenders.
“When they signed me I had a feeling they were going to give me someone else. Megan was the obvious choice, but the UFC told me they were signing other featherweights. This kind of feels like we’re at the top right now. There is not much beyond this fight as far as rankings go,” she shared. “I wonder about when I’ll fight again and how often I’ll be fighting sometimes.”
Spencer is well aware of Anderon’s striking acumen, but the Canadian UFC debutante believes she has more tools in her tool belt. “I think I’m more dynamic and well-rounded. I have more options. Megan is a good striker,” she explained. “That is her bread and butter. I’ll be able to take the fight where I want it and when I want it.”
Spencer has often praised Invicta President Shannon Knapp, crediting her with playing a major role in her career thus far.
“I think people who know the sport would recognize and give her the props. I think it’s just part of her personality, maybe she doesn’t self-promote much,” she expressed. “Without her passion for it, there would be no Invicta. Even if it did kick-off without her, it wouldn’t carried through to now pushing 40 events. Having the opportunity to do my whole pro career with Invicta and have her believe in me enough to give me a co-main event slot last year and put me in a title fight and have a main-event slot. Those things are 100 percent the reason I’m here. I definitely owe it all to the opportunities she gave me.”
Public perception on women’s MMA has definitely improved over the years. Nonetheless, Spencer is still often dismissed as a pretty face by those outside of the bubble.
“One of the first times, from long ago, involved one a female security guard at a local amateur event. I was in the corner, I was one of the coaches for my team. I tried to go backstage with them and they said, ‘no girlfriends allowed backstage.’ My team vouched for me and said ‘she’s a coach and she’s a fighter.’ The security guard was an older lady and she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you must get beat up a lot.’ Everyone had their jaws on the floor. We all laughed about it. Those kind of comments are funny,” she laughed. “It still happens to this day. ‘Can you show me your credentials because there are no girlfriends allowed backstage’ type of thing. It is what it is, it comes with the territory. It doesn’t really bother me.”
Spencer makes her UFC debut against Anderson at UFC Rochester on Saturday, May 18.