Jessamyn Duke, at 5'11, is one of the most difficult physical match-ups for any female fighter in the bantamweight division. Hell, she's taller than most of the men who fight at 135 pounds.
"The Gun" has showcased incredible potential from her amateur career all the way through to her professional debut at Invicta FC 2 earlier this year, where she put a beatdown on Suzie Montero to start her pro career off right.
A native of Kentucky, Duke trains out of the AFS Academy and has already developed a strong sense of confidence in herself. In fact, she's already set a goal to be fighting for a championship within two years of her pro debut.
Duke will be looking to take her MMA career to the next level this Saturday night (Oct. 6, 2012) at Invicta FC 3: Penne vs Sugiyama when she takes on Marciea Allen on the preliminary card of the show.
The physical marvel spoke with MMAmania.com about taking her game to the next level, her goals for her career and about being a closet nerd in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How did it feel to have commentators King Mo and Mauro and Julie Kedzie comparing you to Segat from Street Fighter and "Mini Wanderlei Silva" in your last fight with Invicta?
Jessamyn Duke: That was pretty cool. I have watched it a few times, I'm definitely guilty of that. It wasn't just to be vain. I'm usually super critical of myself and that's why I watch the video a lot. It was really cool to hear them talk to favorably of me especially the Street Fighter comment. The nerd in me loved that. It's neat to get the recognition at that level. I'd never had anything like that before. It was pretty awesome.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You made your professional debut with Invicta which is the leading female fighting organization in the world. That's different than 99.9 percent of the other female fighters out there so what was that like?
Jessamyn Duke: It was definitely a big step up. Invicta right now is the premier women's promotion so to debut there, there was definitely some pressure. Every fight is your most important fight and you've got to do well because that's where I want to be. That's where I want to stay so I know going in there it's gonna be a trip. I felt like I handled it well. I always feel like I handle pressure well with big crowds watching. There were soooo many people watching on the live stream and I'd never fought in front of a crowd that large before. It's crazy to think about that many people watching my fight. I know that every time I go in there I have to compete at my very best and that motivates me to keep training hard and stay focused.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were incredibly dominant against Suzie Montoyo in your last fight, but you mentioned you're hyper-critical of yourself. Most people would look at that fight and see a picture-perfect performance but what did you see when you go back and look at it?
Jessamyn Duke: Oh it was hardly picture perfect. There were lots of things. For one, I didn't like that I took until the third round to finish. If I can, I always want to finish the fight as fast as I can. I made some minor errors, nothing huge, but there were definitely minor errors in my game like my ground and pound. I could have postured up a bit more. I could have not let her tie me up so much which slowed me down some and forced me to be more patient. I really tightened those things up and I'll do my best to not even let it go to the third round this time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Moving forward, you've got a tough fight against an equally credentialed opponent in Marciea Allen. What are you expecting against her?
Jessamyn Duke: It's kind of interesting because I've actually already trained once before kinda recently to fight Marciea. We were supposed to fight in March when I ended up fighting Elizabeth Phillips. She had to drop out because she ended up breaking her hand or at least fracturing it. That was the official report. She dropped out like two weeks out and they got a last minute replacement for me so I trained a full fight camp in preparation for her and that was only a few months ago and it won't be that different. We basically do a lot of the same things. Really, I've been focusing more on imposing my game and my will and not worrying so much about what they're gonna do and what their plan is. It's more important to do my thing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about your game and what you want to do. At 5'11, you have to be one of the most awkward fighters to prepare for in women's MMA. Your knees are so vicious and you impressed a lot of people in that last fight. Can you talk a little bit about your background and how you were able to acquire your current skill-set?
Jessamyn Duke: A lot of people pegged me from the beginning as a muay thai fighter just because I did some kickboxing before I started MMA but the reality is I've been training in all aspects of mixed martial arts pretty much from the beginning. I'm really just as obsessed about the ground game as I am standing up and I've worked a lot in the beginning with guard work as far as grappling went and developing a strong jiu-jitsu game but I discovered that wasn't working too well for MMA so I started really pushing my wrestling along and I always am looking to keep my striking sharp.
I love my striking and the level that it's at so I'm always working it but the wrestling was one area I kind of lacked and I had to learn that lesson the hard way about halfway through my amateur career. I'm very happy that it showed in my last fight because I spent the entire last fight on top when it came to ground work. That was a good change for me. I'm pretty serious into all of it. As far as striking goes, I'm a certified instructor in the Thai boxing association in the USA and I'm actually the state director for Kentucky and I'm an associate instructor. I take that pretty seriously. I still travel and train on a regular basis for striking seminars and stuff similar to that. This is going to be my career. This is my life. I treat it like a job, something I want to invest in for my future whether it's fighting or teaching or whatever. That's the most important thing to me right now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Being a mixed martial artist is not usually everyone's first choice for a career. What was it that sparked your decision to become a fighter?
Jessamyn Duke: You know, I think it just sort of happened along the line when I was training. It wasn't an original goal of mine when I first started training. I just loved being in the gym and I love learning, doing all the different classes, the grappling classes and muay thai classes. Doing those things were the first hobby that I ever had that didn't just bore me to tears after about six months and that's why I got so obsessive when I did it.
When I started doing grappling tournaments, it kind of sparked that competitive bug in me and I just kept wanting higher forms of competition. It started with grappling tournaments and then a couple years later I wanted to do a muay thai fight. I wanted to actually fight in the ring. Women's MMA wasn't really an option for me at the time so I did muay thai for a few years and finally when MMA started to get more popular, there was a local card that was an all-female card and I decided I wanted to do that. My coaches said, "If that's what you want to do, then let's do it!" After my first fight, I was hooked. I wanted to see how far I could go with this because I really believed that I could and I still do. So far so good.
You can follow Jessamyn on twitter @JessamynDuke.