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Ffion Davies championed for Polaris 11 headline spot: ‘Maybe other girls will feel more comfortable’

Ffion Davies is going out of her comfort zone to bring women’s grappling center stage.

Ffion Davies Polaris 11 Talita Alencar Polaris

Polaris’ first-ever women’s champion, Ffion Davies, called for the main event slot of Polaris 11.

The Welsh grappler told Bloody Elbow she pitched the idea of main eventing Polaris 11 — the first time two women receive top billing on a Polaris card.

“I think it’s really important. I was really happy when the guys agreed to make it the main event,” Davies said. “I was really nervous to ask for it. I don’t like to push things much... but I thought to put the responsibility on myself and make it about women’s jiu-jitsu. If I push for it, maybe other girls will feel more comfortable to push for things and not be apologetic for it. It’s justified for it to be the main event.”

“There is less pay in women’s jiu-jitsu,” she continued. “There are arguments to justify that in terms of [tournament] numbers, but when you’re putting on a show I think women draw in a lot of eyes. I think women’s fights are always exciting.” The women’s grappling scene is starting to explode and Davies sees no signs of it simmering down. “It’s really full and it’s only getting better. You can see the younger girls coming through,” she said. “You always get the case of the brown belt women going into black belt and doing amazing straight away.”

Despite their competitive nature on the mat, there is a sense of comradery among the women competing in what has traditionally been a male-centric sport.

“Now that I’ve been competing at black belt — it’s coming up to a year — but they’re all very kind and nice to each other. They look out for each other and root for each other,” Davies shared. “People think women’s fights are ‘catty’ and ‘b—chy,’ but that’s just not the case. The girls are all friends. Maybe I’m not as close as some of the Brazilian women, but that’s just down to a language barrier. We’ll just smile at each other a lot [laughs] Everyone has a lot of respect for each other and we want each other to do well because it does good for everyone.”

She also touched on the influx of grapplers in mixed martial arts. When asked which elite grappler she believes will go farthest in MMA, Davies said Garry Tonon (5-0).

“He’d be focusing a lot on his striking, but in his fights he won’t think he’s a striker. That’s a trap people fall into. They hit a couple of pads and they think, ‘I’m the s—t at this.’ They try to box but they’re not boxers,” Davies explained. “Anyone with solid wrestling would do well because they can get it to the ground. No matter how phenomenal you are at jiu-jitsu, if you can’t get it to the ground you can’t use your jiu-jitsu. So whoever has the strongest wrestling and I’d say Gary has really great wrestling.”

Davies headlines Polaris 11 opposite Talita Alencar at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, U.K. on Saturday, Aug. 31. Other notable bouts on the card include Steven Ray vs. Paddy Pimblett and Edwin Najmi vs. Mansher Khera. Satoshi Ishii and Nick Rodriguez will also compete in separate bouts.