We look at the bout for a chance at the Women's Super Flyweight championship between Rosi Sexton and Ireland's own Aisling Daly this Saturday at Cage Warriors 47 in the Helix.
Will it be double gold for Daly?
It seems fitting that a short time after Katie Taylor defended her boxing world title, Ireland's (so far) only MMA world champion gets to compete in her hometown of Dublin. Aisling Daly fights Rosi Sexton on June 2nd for the right to fight for the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship ladies 125lbs title.
The last time we featured "Ais the Bash" in the pages of JOE she had just retained her North American Allied Fight Series 125lbs world title by beating Kelly Warren. Her post fight request to return to Bellator, No.2 ranked promotion in the US, didn’t fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately though, Aisling wasn't able to rematch Jessica Eye who she beat to claim her NAAFS title at Bellator 66 in April as scheduled, as an ear infection prevented her from travelling.
"I developed fluid in my ear that turned into an infection. About four weeks from the fight, after consulting the doctor, it became clear I wasn't going to be 100% to travel. The infection affected my balance and it really sank in one day when I was on an escalator and went to step off and just completely fell backwards. Only for my friend caught me I would have been rolling back down the escalator. I figured that I'd struggle to defend a takedown if I was struggling just walking around."
Having given plenty of notice to the promoter and no real harm was done. All Aisling had to do now was on focus her fight with Rosi Sexton, which was already in the books.
Sizing up her opponent, Aisling is prepared for a battle. "Rosi's going to be a really tough fight, she's got a lot of experience. I reckon this could go the distance and turn into a war of attrition with both of us grinding for the win. I think we're quite similar so it will probably end up in the hands of the judges."
Sexton is possibly the biggest named fighter Aisling has faced in her 5 year career but she won't be star struck by Sexton's body of work. "I approach every fight as if it's the biggest fight of my career. The record doesn't matter when you're in there fighting; each fight is like a stand-alone event. She's been ranked for a long time and maybe the highest ranked fighter I've ever faced. But I submitted Kelly Warren in the 2nd round of our fight yet no.1 ranked.
Tara LaRosa needed all 3 rounds to beat her with a last minute submission. Rankings are great but it's just you in there in the fight."
When the talk switches to the title implications of the fight, Aisling is philosophical about what winning a championship belt means. "I'm more interested in the path or process to winning a belt than the belt itself. If you've beaten high calibre opposition to get a belt then it really means something. I've turned down some smaller promotions and some Irish shows who've offered to do a one off, super fight for a title. That really doesn't interest me. The Battlezone fight* made sense because the two of us have wanted to fight each other for about 2 years. Training is fun but competing is what I'm into and I want to compete with the best out there. "
Sexton certainly fits the bill for Aisling as a worthy opponent and should she beat the veteran a tantalising rematch with hard hitting German Sheila Gaff awaits.
Aisling wanted to thank her sponsors Paddy Power, her coach John Kavanagh, Eoin Lacey of Irish Strength Institute, David Mullen of Conquer Mental Skills and all her training partners at Straight Blast Gym.
*Aisling was scheduled to fight Dutch Muay Thai specialist Tatiana Von Polanen Petel at Battlezone 5 but Petel pulled out due to injury.
Everything is comin’ up Rosi
Rosi Sexton comes to Dublin to fight local girl Aisling Daly with the winner progressing to fight Sheila Gaff for the Cage Warriors ladies title. Fighting is something Rosi does in addition to being a mother, an osteopath, a writer for Fighters Only magazine and running the Combat Sports Clinics in Liverpool and Manchester.
Despite the busy life Rosi hasn't had a problem with preparation. "Training has gone really well. I've done a lot of technical work and a lot of Strength and Conditioning work. I lead a very busy life so when I take a fight I like to be able to focus solely on preparing. I've put nearly everything on hold and trained for 2-3 months for this."
Rosi is a veteran of the MMA game having debuted in 2002 and fought all over the world. She also has a long association with Cage Warriors having fought on the inaugural show way back in 2002 and won their ladies 132lbs title in 2006.
"A lot has changed in MMA in the last 5 years with weight classes being standardised, which is very much what CWFC are doing with this tournament."
Having gone 5-0 early in her career Rosi got the call to the big time, flying out to Las Vegas to fight in the first ever sanctioned bout in Women's MMA. She fought against the poster girl of the sport at the time, Haywire star Gina Carano. Though Rosi took her first loss, it launched her into the US MMA scene where she would go on to fight the biggest names (Carina Damm, Debi Purcell, Zoila Gurgel) on the biggest stages (BodogFight, ShoXC, Bellator).
Rosi acknowledges the sport of MMA has moved on since she began fighting. "The standard of competition has shot up in the last 5 years. There are a lot more girls involved now compared to when I started. They are also not just skilled practitioners of a single discipline, they're now full time MMA athletes. Girls like Sarah McMann (Olympic silver medalist in wrestling) and Ronda Rousey (Olympic bronze medalist in judo) are raising the MMA game to a high level athlete. What was good enough 5 years ago is longer good enough today."
Having tasted the big time Rosi is in no rush back to the bright lights of the US. "I take one fight at a time so I'm not looking any further than the fight against Aisling."
“I’m better everywhere," says Rosi "I know she has a solid level of grappling and I know she trains at a good camp. She has a lot of experience and I know she'll be a tough opponent. But I feel I'm better everywhere so no matter where the fight goes I'll come out on top."
In a little under a week we'll find out if Rosi is right. Rosi wanted to thank everyone who has helped her prepare for this fight - all her team at Next Generation, supplement sponsor PhD Nutrition and everyone at Strength & Performance.