Jasmine Jasudavicius

Jasmine Jasudavicius - Photo by Andy Cotterill MM-eh.ca

Jasmine Jasudavicius – Eyes Wide Open

Jasmine Jasudavicius – Eyes Wide Open

By Andy Cotterill

Niagara Top Team’s Female Flyweight Fenom (yes, I know, but I like alliteration) Jasmine Jasudavicius (7-1 MMA 1-0 UFC) put pen to paper on Wednesday and accepted a fight offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to face Brazil’s Natália Silva (12-5-1 MMA 0-0 UFC) at the UFC Fight Night scheduled for June 18th.

Jasudavicius signed the document in Las Vegas, which she knows well and calls a second home. She arrived several days ago in order to start her training camp at Syndicate MMA, where she also trained before her successful UFC debut against Kay Hansen.

The St. Catharines, Ontario born fighter thinks that her previous time in Vegas which includes several training camps and several important UFC wins will give her a leg up on her Brazilian opponent, who will be making her UFC debut, as well as fighting for the first time since December 2019 before COVID stopped the world.

“Yeah, obviously that brings great confidence.” Jasudavicius told me from her residence in Vegas before the first of her training sessions on Thursday.

“I’ve already fought at the Apex before so the comfort is there, whereas she’s coming all the way from Brazil, and I think that that’ll make a more significant difference for her.”

That being said, Jasudavicius knows that despite the uncertainty that accompanies most newcomers to the big city and the bright lights of the UFC, Silva is an experienced opponent who is sure to be game.

“I remember my UFC debut like it was yesterday, and yeah, it’s your most important fight and this will be hers.”

When a matchmaker puts two fighters together there are always questions to be asked, regardless if any great thought was put into that particular pairing or not. These same questions are also considered by the fighters themselves.

One of those questions is how will their respective strengths & weaknesses balance out? Fighter A is a great striker, so will fighter B be able to negate that strength with their excellent ground game? Or how about, Fighter A is a tough SOB with grit for days, but so is fighter B. Which one is tougher and grittier?

In the fight game those questions are always academic, to be answered only after fighter A or B has their hand raised at the end of the bout.

Regardless, trying to predict the outcome before it happens is an industry unto itself.

Jasudavicius is known for a confident and aggressive attitude in the cage that often has her dominating her opponent in a clinch, or smashing them into the canvas underneath them. This could potentially be a problem for her with Silva, who has displayed an affinity for arm bars, winning 5 of her last 6 fights in that manner. Fighters that specialize in armbars are usually adept at fending off their opponent’s downward attacks, then capitalizing on a small mistake.

But “Triple F” doesn’t think that will happen.

“I mean, I think she’s good, and I feel like at this level no matter what it’s gonna be a tough fight, but I think I’m matched up favorably and I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. I mean, I trained with some high level jits girls and I’m not getting caught in an arm bar. I’m not too worried about that.”

With this fight over two months away, Jasudavicius and her team have plenty of time to come up with their game plan, so allow us to reflect on the past for a moment.

During the fight week of her impressive UFC debut win over Kay Hansen at UFC 270 in January, fight fans came away knowing 2 things for certain; 1- Jasmine can fight, and 2- Jasmine absolutely loved every split second of her experience.

I asked her about the relentless grin that was on her face and the joy that she radiated during every public appearance.

She replied that he heeds the advice from the many people who find out at the end of their lives that they have regrets for not doing more, or not allowing themselves to live in the moment.

“I always make sure to really take in the moment because it’s going to be a short one. I’m already on my second fight, so I think it’s just important to take it all in and try to enjoy the moments that I have. When I’m old and gray I’m not going to be able to be fighting in a cage…yeah, enjoy it now.”

When I asked her if she had a favourite experience from the many she most suredly had that week, she didn’t hesitate.

“The walkout was really cool. When I was standing and they were greasing me up and checking me out I looked up and I could see like my name in the lights going around the stadium. That was a huge moment for me. I’ll never forget that moment…it was the best thing ever.”

Ashley Nichols (left) and Alex Moher after a final hard training session on fight week. Moher was scheduled to fight but his opponent withdrew. (Photo by Andy Cotterill)

Ashley Nichols – The Road Not Taken

Ashley Nichols (left) and Alex Moher after a final hard training session on fight week. Moher was scheduled to fight but his opponent withdrew. (Photo by Andy Cotterill)

Niagara Top Team’s Ashley Nichols – The Road Not Taken

By Andy Cotterill

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

On a foundational level every human on earth shares the same experience. They exist. They breath. They love. They hurt.

But the way they experience these things are unique, to a degree. Everyone has a story, and although these stories can fall in to broad categories, it is a combination of a myriad of individual experiences that make us different from each other.

For mixed martial artist Ashley Nichols, her story will bring her to the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino Event Center in Niagara Falls, NY on Friday night, where she will step into a cage in front of hundreds of spectators and go to war.

Her journey started when she was 14 and her mother made that normal parental act of getting her child involved in a sport. For Nichols that first sport was boxing, which she started and stopped off and on for several years.

Her path in fighting could very well have stopped for good there, had it not been for her being exposed to the combat sport of Muay Thai, the cultural component of which resonated with her indigenous roots. She is of the Chippewa (Ojibwe), Oneida Nation, and Potowatami Tribes.

“When I learned that Muay Thai was more than just fighting, I decided that it was what I wanted to compete in.”

And compete she did, for years training in Thailand, traveling the world and fighting, culminating in a handful of World Championships.

In 2016 she decided to return to Canada where she would focus on a new challenge — mixed martial arts.

For the next few years she moved between a few different cites and a few different gyms, learning and growing as she did.

Then something strange happened.

One day she was reading an article about up-and-coming fighters and saw the name Jasmine Jasudavicius, who had just won a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, then very soon after she was contacted by Jasudavicius and her coach Chris Prickett and invited to join them at Niagara Top Team to train.

So Nichols and her training partner Kevin Popowick got in their car and made the 6-hour drive from Ottawa to St. Catharines, and after two great weeks, both Nichols and Popowick decided to make a permanent move.

“I trained at a lot of different gyms before finally getting to Niagara Top Team and now the rest is history…I’m training with the best team in Canada.”

Nichols says that the physical challenges of training with so many high calibre athletes is of course beneficial for her growth, but it was the mental component that she realized she had been lacking.

“Once I got here it was like everyone is training for a fight. I hadn’t fought in 3 years, and I had gotten kind of complacent with having the competitiveness; pushing myself, going through the motions in training, wheras here I was encouraged to bring the competitiveness. We’re going to compete as we train and that’s what I realized was the difference.”

So now the training is over and it’s almost time to fight, and regardless of the outcome, Nichols is calm in the knowledge that by getting inside that cage the shield and sword of her own reality will not deceive the work she has done.

She is ready to connect with her warrior ancestors. She is ready to connect with her spirit, her mind, and her heart in an empowering way, and ready to be an inspiration for indigenous peoples and communities.

The Book of Jasmine Jasudavicius, Chapter 3

The Book of Jasmine Jasudavicius, Chapter 3

By Andy Cotterill

Every fighter on the UFC roster has their own first-UFC fight story.

For St Catharines, Ontario’s Jasmine Jasudavicius, her first UFC fight was technically held last September at Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS), when she defeated Julia Polastri in a one-sided decision.

In that series, fighters compete to see who can impress the UFC boss and get awarded a coveted UFC contract.

So yes, that fight was inside of a famed UFC Octagon, inside of a UFC venue, and with UFC President Dana White overseeing the whole thing.

It was in essence a UFC fight…but not a “UFC fight.”

That all changes in Anaheim, California this Saturday at UFC 270, when Jasudavicius (6-1) faces California’s Kay Hansen (7-4) in a much anticipated Flyweight bout between two hot prospects.

Now just days away, Jasudavicius says that she’s nervous, but that’s both normal and okay.

“Of course I’m nervous,” she told me, “but every time I have nerves and every time I get over it and I understand that they’re just part of the process.”

That’s a practical attitude for anyone to have, but perhaps counter-intuitively, Jasmine adds that she’s also excited that the fight is taking place in Anaheim, which is in Hansen’s back yard, and where her opponent is sure to have overwhelming support from the fans.

“Going into enemy territory is nice. I’ve done that my entire career and I like being the one that they’re hating on, and they always become my fans afterward which is sweet.”

So it is that Jasmine has her focus on Hansen, and Hansen alone.

Her Niagara Top Team coach Chris Prickett doesn’t have that luxury, however.

“I’m planning years ahead.” He told me, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

I would have been remiss had I not asked him to expound on this statement, so I did.

“She’s (Jasmine’s) the best in the world. I honestly believe that. In her weight class, I think she can beat them all. I know she’s still relatively young in her career as far as fights in the UFC, and we’re going to get more work before we get a shot with Valentina (UFC Champion Shevchenko) or one of those top couple girls, but she’s trained with a lot of these girls inside of the top 15. I know exactly where she’s at. She’s going to be a world champion, it’s just a matter of time.”

Followers of the fight game recognize this as a very bold statement, one which they’ve heard before from other fighters and their circles. Sometimes they’re accurate, but most often they’re not.

What does Jasmine think about what her coach said?

“That’s the plan. I believe in my skills and abilities. You learn from each fight, and eventually when I get that opportunity I’ll be able to take advantage of it. But as of right now I only have Kay Hansen on my mind.”

So now we all wait together for Saturday night.

To watch Jasmine turn the page.

To see where her story leads her.

NTT Jan 2022

NTT Ready To Punch 2022 Right In The Face

NTT READY TO PUNCH 2022 RIGHT IN THE FACE

Photo by Elyane Rogier

As Niagara Top Team approaches our third anniversary, 2022 is shaping up to be our most successful and productive year to date.

Despite the challenges faced by Covid restrictions we are so fortunate and thankful to have had such a loyal and dedicated student base, and appreciate each and every one of you.

From our Marvelous Mini Martial Artists, to our Killer Kids, to our Awesome Adults, the coaching staff has been blown away by all of the dedication and progress that we’ve seen, and the fact that all of our students are so positive, friendly, and respectful is a huge bonus.

Whether you’re training for fun, fitness, or getting ready for competition, we’re thrilled that you’ve chosen us to be on your journey with you.

Let’s show 2022 who’s boss!

Sincerely,

Head Coaches Matt DiMarcantonio and Chris Prickett

FIGHT TEAM UPDATES!

The Niagara Top Team competitive athletes are all chomping at the bit to show the world what they’ve been doing behind the scenes.

22 Jan – Without a doubt the most high profile and eagerly anticipated fight in the history of our Team, Jasmine Jasudavicius will be leaving for Las Vegas this week to get ready for her UFC debut, when she faces American Kay Hansen at UFC 270: Ngannou vs Gane, in Anaheim, California on January 22nd.

Jasmine earned her spot in the world’s largest MMA organization by defeating Julia Polastri at Dana White’s Contender Series 39 in September.

29 Jan – Aaron Jeffery will be making his first title defence of his Cage Fury Fight Club (CFFC) Middleweight crown when he takes on Pennsylvania’s Rex Harris at CFFC 105 in Philadelphia on January 29th.

It is said that a champion isn’t a Champion until they defend their belt, and as he always does, Aaron has been putting in the work on the mats day in and day out to make sure that he’s ready, and we’re confident that that his success will continue in 2022.

11 Feb – Sporting a 10-1 professional record, Anthony Romero has already proven that he is one of Canada’s top lightweight fighters, and will continue to make his case when he faces Nashville’s Charlie Alexander in the main event of Fury FC 57 in Humble, Texas on February 11th, for the Fury FC Lightweight Title.

25 Feb – Ashley Nichols might be an unfamilar name to followers of Niagara Top Team…for now. This 5-time World Professional MuayThai Federation Champion and K-1 Kickboxing Champion is an accomplished striker who has also had MMA fights in both the TKO and Invicta organizations.

Ashley visited NTT last fall, and must have liked it because she moved to Niagara permanently shortly after and has quickly become one of our most dedicated athletes. We’ll see if this dedication pays off when she steps into the Legacy Fighting Alliance cage against Hilarie Rose on February 25th.

05 Mar – BTC Fight Promotions continues it’s push to be the pre-eminent MMA organization in Eastern, and perhaps all of Canada, when it holds it’s 14th event, on March 5th in London, Ontario. This event, titled CLASH, will feature a handful of NTT fighters. Look to see our standout athletes Xavier Nash, Cody Chovancek, Luke Roberts, and Vinny Dias on the card.

09 April – A dual citizen from both Canada and the United States, Mike Malott spends many of his days as a coach at the lauded Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. His family, however, lives in the Burlington area, and when he’s in town he often avails himself of the high-level coaches and training partners at Niagara Top Team.

Like Jasmine Jasudavicius, he also won entry into the UFC by way of a victory at DWCS, and his UFC debut “Proper” will take place at UFC 273 in Brooklyn, NY versus Mickey Gall.

Teshay Gouthro – There is a possibility that Teshay may be joining Ashley Nichols on the LFA card, and we’ll update you when we know more.

Zackery Powell – After the disappointing last-second Covid-cancellation of the TOFC event scheduled for Niagara Falls in December in which he was set to fight, “Pow Pow” is desperately searching for a last minute fight…anywhere. If you’re a promoter who’s looking for a tough and skilled lightweight, please reach out to us.

Also currently looking for fights are professionals Jarred Dummond and Kevin Bastien Popowick, and amateurs Alex Moher, Ligrit Sadiku, and Khaya MacKillop.

Niagara Top Team athletes are skilled, professional, in-shape, and always come ready to represent one of the top MMA gyms in Canada!

Jasmine Jasudavicius Ready To Make A Splash On DWCS

NIAGARA TOP TEAM’S JASMINE JASUDAVICIUS READY TO MAKE A SPLASH ON DANA WHITE’S CONTENDER SERIES

By Andy Cotterill

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ― Aristotle

An internet search for motivational quotes about opportunity will yield millions of results, and for some, these words can help guide them toward some form of excellence.

But for Niagara fighter Jasmine Jasudavicius, excellence is already a long time habit, and in a few short days she plans to stand in front of the mixed martial arts world and scream her name at the top of her lungs and dare them all to not recognize her as someone to pay close attention to.

On Tuesday September 14th Jasudavicius faces Brazilian Julia Polastri on Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series in a Flyweight (125 lbs) match that will likely award the winner a coveted position on the roster of the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts organization – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

A founding member of Niagara Top Team and one of Canada’s hottest prospects, Jasudavicius will be pitting her combined 9-1 amateur and professional record against Polastri’s 8-2, so at first glance this seems to be a very fair match up.

But a fighter’s life in these days of Covid is anything but fair. Neither social distancing nor the wearing of masks are very conducive toward the kind of up close and personal training with multiple partners needed to conduct a proper fight camp, especially one that has such high stakes.

In normal times Niagara Top Team is a hot bed of sizzling Canadian MMA talent that gave Jasudavicius every ounce of training opportunity possible, but the stringent Canadian Covid restrictions for gyms severely restricted her ability to maintain both the quantity and quality of training to which she was accustomed.

So it was decided that Jasudavicius and about a half dozen of her NTT teammates, including main training partner Teshay Gouthro, would make the trek to Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas to start her preparation for the biggest fight of her career so far. The team enjoyed a week or so of great training then returned home. But when the UFC scheduled her to return to Vegas 6 weeks before fight night to conduct a day or two of promotional video shoots, she realized that returning to Canada again after that would force her to quarantine, and at that point she could just not afford to waste any time not training as fully as she could.

So she’s been in Vegas since then.

In the gym.

Every day.

Training.

Training with other UFC fighters in their own fight camps like Ji Yeon Kim and Emily Whitmire.

Training with other UFC veterans like Joanne Calderwood and Roxanne Modafferi.

Training with Holly Holmes’ next opponent Norma Dumont, who Jasudavicius says she loved training with despite the size difference.

For Jasmine Jasudavicius the training is now over, and all that’s left for her to do is the final act. The act that is a part of her habit. The act of stepping into a cage and staring into the eyes of someone who is ready to do to her what she’s been preparing to do to them.

The act of standing with her arm raised.

She’s ready.

Niagara Power

Niagara Power

18 June, 2019

By Andy Cotterill

When most people hear the word “Niagara,” the first thing they think of are the world-famous water falls, the majesty of which attracts millions of visitors every year.
But for submission grappling fans that may soon change as Niagara Top Team’s Chris Prickett and Jasmine Jasudavicius are ready to burst onto the scene at Para Bellum’s Quintet II on June 21st in Oakville, Ontario.

A former National Wrestling Champion, Olympic Alternate, and current Assistant Wrestling Coach for the men’s and women’s National Champion Brock Badgers, Prickett competed in the first Quintet but left disappointed after being disqualified for an illegal knee reap, and is looking forward to redemption against fellow Quintet veteran Jaamal Richer from Battle Arts Academy.
“The first Quintet was awesome and I had so much fun.” Says Prickett. “But most of my Jiu jitsu knowledge comes from coaching wrestling and MMA athletes, so it was my own ignorance for not understanding the ruleset.” He notes regarding his disqualification, but he vows that he and Richer will excite the crowd.

“We’ve spoken over the internet and he seems like a really cool guy just looking to compete and have fun with it.”
Jasudavicius is an up-and-coming mixed martial artist and had been hoping to parlay her undefeated amateur record into her professional MMA debut at BTC 6 on June 1st, but fortunately for Quintet fans her opponent dropped out, allowing her to compete along alongside Prickett in Ontario’s premiere submission grappling event.

“The first Quintet was amazing,” she says, “they put on a very entertaining show and everyone loved it. I really liked how they showcased the wrestling and the Jiu jitsu and I can hardly wait to do it myself.”

Her opponent of the evening will be Angela Neufeld, a multiple time jiujitsu champion, as well as Fight of the Night winner in BJJ super fights.

“I know that she’s a blue belt same as me and a multiple time champion,” Jasudavicius says, “but that being said I think that I’ll feel different to her because I’m an MMA fighter as opposed to a Jiu jitsu practitioner, so I think I have the advantage because of that.”

Prickett says that an event like the Quintet means different things to different athletes. “Jasmine and I are competing in the same thing, but for me it’s completely different than it is for her. Her end goal is the UFC and fighting at the highest level, and for me this is recreational.”

“Recreational” clearly means something different for someone who lives and breathes different types of combat training. “Coaching is my main focus, and I do this on the side,” he says, “and it’s not to say that I’m not taking this seriously because I am, but this is like me going golfing on the weekend.”

Jasudavicius agrees that for her competing in the Quintet isn’t just fun, it’s serving a purpose. “I’m just going out there and kinda what (UFC Champion) Tony Ferguson said – getting my mat time in and getting the competition experience, that’s why I’m doing it.”

Prickett says that while Jasudavicius may seem sweet and innocent when you meet her, it’s a different story once she hits the mats.

“Her biggest strength is that she’s fearless. Skills come from training but I feel like she was born a fighter, it’s just in her, she just has it.” He says, before adding some ominous words, “She won’t say it, but she likes breaking people — taking them down and sucking the wind out of them.”

Jasudavicius smiles as he says that and adds, “Going into a fight it’s like, who’s going to break first? I know I’m not going to break.”

As for predictions? The Niagara Power Couple answer just like you think they would.

“Just win.” Says Prickett. “That’s the purpose of competition. The goal of what I want to get out of June 21st is to get my hand raised, and secondly is to do it in exciting fashion.”
For Jasudavicius it’s even simpler than that. “I predict she’ll be submitted by me pretty quick.”