Roxanne Modafferi cites pursuit of evolution as key to MMA longevity

Roxanne Modafferi has managed to stay relevant in the MMA world as long as anyone who has ever stepped into the cage.

The seasoned veteran has competed professionally for almost 17 years, and for the majority of her career she’s been a top contender, regardless of which promotion she’s in. Eighth in the UFC’s flyweight rankings, Modafferi (24-17 MMA, 3-5 UFC) competes in her 42nd official fight Saturday when she takes on Andrea Lee (11-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC)v at UFC on ESPN+ 35 in Las Vegas.

Modafferi believes her constant drive to evolve her skills has kept her game focused throughout her career.

“I think that evolution is the key to me staying in the top 10,” Modafferi said at Thursday’s UFC on ESPN+ 35 virtual media day. “I’m seeing that with other veterans like (Alistair) Overeem or others — they are evolving, they’ve moved camps where they can get pushed; they’re trying to grow and change. Me, too.

“My personality and belief to be a martial artist first, and learning and pursuing that evolution to keep growing and keep improving helps me stay in the top 10.”

“The Happy Warrior” is no stranger to ups and downs and bad days in her fighting career, but her passion for martial arts keeps her from walking away from fighting as she gets set to rematch Lee, whom she defeated in their first matchup in 2014.

“I do have a passion for martial arts; I love it,” Modafferi said. “People who start fighting to make money and be a champion, they never go anywhere. But when you love the sport, that really enables you to do it because you love it. I do get burnt out if I train too much sometimes, but usually one day off will do it for me. After my fights, I like to take a week off and then I get back into it.”

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