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Dear Roxy: ‘How do you channel your inner warrior’ and overcome doubt?

Roxanne Modafferi tackles your questions, Happy Warrior style, in her ‘Dear Roxy’ column for Bloody Elbow.

Roxanne Modafferi lands a jab on Casey O’Neill at UFC 271.
Roxanne Modafferi lands a jab on Casey O’Neill at UFC 271.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

It’s time for another edition of Dear Roxy, where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe with questions about fighting, training, and life in general.

Back in May we talked about keeping composure inside the cage, especially in the face of painful injuries that might impact scoring with the judges. We also talked about gym culture, martial arts, and reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community. And my two trips through the Ultimate Fighter and what it was like working with coaches on both seasons.

For our next installment, I’m tackling my warrior spirit and how to find it, decompressing during training camps, and how to make it in the ‘big show’.


“Dear Roxy, in moments of doubt when facing tough opponents, how do you channel your inner warrior and overcome that doubt?” - Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I always go into any match, thinking, “Any fighter could win at any given time.” I may think about it differently rather than in terms of “doubt” because I know I can win. The question is “Will I? This time?” The fight game isn’t a proper equation. Sometimes you might be injured or not as skilled, but you beat a superior opponent due to a better game plan or a slick submission. There are times where you are far more skilled, but your opponent outlasts you with strength and stamina. There are so many variables that I can’t go into a fight analyzing whether I can win or not. I do my best to prepare myself, mentally and physically. I imagine myself powering up my ki before our gloves touch for the first time.

MMA: FEB 12 UFC 271 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages

“I’ll try my best!” I just think,

However, I have thought to myself, “Crap, I’m losing this fight.”

I’m very inspired by super heroes who seem beaten down and exhausted, but they summon their inner strength and keep going. At the battle of Thermopyles, a small number of Greeks held back the Persian forces for a long time; Goku from Dragon Ball Z never quit getting up and trying to beat his enemy.

I told myself, “That’s me. I have to be like that.” I’ll eat damage and keep going, keep trying my best. There is glory in never giving up despite it being a losing battle. Because you never know if you could win in the last second. You have fifteen minutes until the time runs out. I think of my heroes and let myself be inspired in the heat of the battle.


“Dear Roxy, what was your favorite way to decompress when training full time for fights in the UFC?” – CuriousMinds

Dear CuriousMinds,

I do well with habitual things, and regularly schedules activities. I have to schedule break time into my day. Now that I’m not in my normal training routine it’s almost harder. I feel like I’m busier because I’m running around more.

Every day after pro practice, between 1:45 and 3 PM, I used to lay on my sofa and watch anime. If I was lucky, I’d get sleepy enough to take a nap. I made sure I set my alarm on my phone so I’d wake up in time to go teach my kids class. In the evening when I was single, I always watched anime at night, too. I used to be really into video games as well (Mario Kart, Twisted Metal, Tomb Raider, Katamari Damacy). However, nowadays I feel like it takes a lot of mental energy and I’m too tired to expend it. Now that I have a boyfriend, we watch anime together, or the latest Marvel show on Netflix. Sometimes I watch him play video games (Fallout, Elden Ring, Cyberpunk). He has more patience than I do.

I try to go to the movies on Sunday with my best friend Serena, or Chris, my boyfriend/fiancé. I sometimes get invited out to go hiking, but I’m always too tired for that. I know certain people like to recharge in nature. If someone could carry me into nature, leave me for a bit, and then come get me without me having to make the effort, that would be ideal.


“Dear Roxy, for the modern fighter, what’s the recipe to ‘make it’ to the big show?” – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I think the fighter has to be in the situation where they’re able to commit a lot of time to training. They have to have a job or money situation that leaves them with enough energy and time to train enough. Unlike decades ago when a martial artist could train once a day after work, now fighters are “athletes” and must make a big effort to work on all aspects of themselves. They should do strength and conditioning because strength matters, striking, grappling, wrestling, and jiujitsu. It helps to have good training partners who you can train with safely, who don’t go crazy and try to beat you up every sparring around. Fighters need to be aware that in their careers, they can only absorb so many strikes to the head. They better make each day productive.

Fighters have to work on all aspects of fighting, but I’d like to caution them against neglecting training what they love the most. You gotta love what you do!

Chris “The Gladiator” Roman smiles while sparring Jordan “The Monkey King” Leavitt
Roxanne Modafferi

I think every fighter needs a superpower or strongpoint. If you love jiujitsu, try to use it to get the edge on your opponents. That’s your game. If you’re a striker, do an extra session of that per week. It’ll keep you happier. Playing to your strength leads you on the path to making your fights go smoothly, the way you want them to go.


If you’d like to submit your own questions for ‘Dear Roxy’ feel free to email me at basilisk875@yahoo.com, with the subject line “Dear Roxy”, or reach out on twitter @RoxyFighter with the hashtag #DearRoxy. Or simply leave your questions in a comment below on Bloody Elbow. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.