UFC

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.”

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.

Aaron Jeffery On DWCS Redemption

Aaron Jeffery On Dana White’s Contender Series Redemption

By Andy Cotterill

If you ask most people to describe the Ultimate Fighting Championship, they’ll likely tell you that it’s an organization that promotes the sport of mixed martial arts.

They’d be correct, of course, but it’s much more than that.


Amongst a growing number of competing global promotions, the UFC is still the place where fighters from across the globe aspire to ply their trade. They could conceivably make more money elsewhere, but that doesn’t matter…the UFC has the cachet, and it’s where most fighters want to be.

The UFC is where dreams can be made and dreams can be crushed, and both are seen live in vivid colour every single fight night. In the days following, many compelling stories emerge from both winning and losing sides.

But perhaps the most compelling of all are the stories of redemption.


Just over two years ago Canadian Middleweight Aaron Jeffery (10-2) lost his fight against Brendan Allen in UFC President Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) Season 3, and this Tuesday night in Season 5, he’s getting a second chance to make it into the world’s premiere MMA organization when he faces 8-1 Brazillian Caio Borralho.


Not every fighter gets called back to try again, in fact, it’s a rarity.


But since that loss in the year that the Covid-19 virus emerged Jeffery has won all 4 of his fights, 3 via TKO, and it’s just a bonus that the man who beat him is currently on a tear in the UFC proper.


Jeffery knows that this is a make-or-break opportunity for him, but remains pragmatic in his perspective about the possibility of another loss.


“I bounce back and forth between these two trains of thought.” Jeffery told MM-eh from his Air BNB in Las Vegas, where he and his girlfriend have been staying for 3 months while he trains at Syndicate MMA.


“My one thought is like maybe I have to consider another career, I’m pushing 30 and two losses in the Contender Series is bad and I’m probably not going to get signed, my life’s over. My other thought is like, does it really matter that much if I lose this fight? I’m in the same situation I’m in now, I’m still not in the UFC, I have one more fight on my record, and I just made a few thousand dollars to fight. I had some eyes on me and probably will get some attention even if I lose, so you can look at it either way.”


Some may read those words and think that it’s not what an athlete should be thinking, or especially saying out loud. But those are the people who repeat phrases like “Losing is not an option” as if that will better their chance at victory. Losing is always an option. It happens to all of us, in some small way, all of the time. Ignoring it doesn’t make th

e possibility go away.
Once you embrace the fact that losing is there, you can start to take the steps necessary to prevent it.


That’s just what Jeffery did all of those months ago when he made the trek with his Niagara Top Team (NTT) teammates down to Vegas, where they embedded themselves into the tightknit training group at Syndicate MMA.


This effort paid off in a big way for Jeffery’s teammate Jasmine Jasudavicius, who dominated her DWCS opponent two weeks ago, and had UFC President Dana White positively gushing over her gameness.


While Jeffery has always been known as a hard worker, his time at Syndicate has been a boon to his confidence in several ways.


“I’m the most experienced guy back home and I’m the bigger guy in the gym, right, so I don’t have a ton of hard rounds, so coming here and getting rounds with Sean, like I know on sparring day it’s going to be a war and I get that fight feel and I get some anxiety before sparring and it kind of like brings the fight out of you, so I think I needed to have that again in my training.”


The Sean he refers to is Sean Strickland, the 7th ranked UFC Middleweight who recently defeated Uriah Hall and is slated to face Luke Rockhold at UFC 268, where a win would most certainly place his name in conversation as a future championship contender.


Jeffery’s time in the cage with Strickland and TUF veteran John Poppie must have made a good impression, as Syndicate MMA Owner and Head Coach John Wood will be cornering him on Tuesday along with Jeffery’s NTT coach Chris Prickett.


For such a night you’d think that Jeffery would be amped up, or perhaps worried, but surprisingly he says that’s not the case.


“Honestly, I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. I feel the same going in to all of my fights. Every fight of your career is the biggest fight of your career, so it kinda all feels the same. It’s comforting to know that I’ve done all the work I’ve done and I’ve controlled everything I can.”

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.