Bellator 195: “Caldwell vs. Higo” comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., this Friday night (March 2, 2018), featuring a main event between Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell (11-1) — who will be making his first-ever title defense — against Leandro Higo (18-3).
Female Flyweights will also be in action on Paramount Network this weekend in a bout that could anoint the promotion’s next women’s 125-pound title contender. The tough and durable Emily Ducote (6-3) will look to bounce back from a fifth round submission loss to Ilima-Lei Macfarlane back in Nov. 2016, while her opponent, Kristina Williams (1-0), hopes to quickly move into contention by knocking off the Bellator veteran. She shocked the world by destroying boxer Heather Hardy at Bellator 185, instantly making a name for herself in the process.
MMAmania.com recently spoke with Ducote about this key bout in the women’s Flyweight division on Friday, how she got the unusual nickname “Gordinha” (it’s Portuguese for “chubby”) and more.
“When I first started at the gym I was a little chunky, and cutting weight for my amateur fights was a rough time. My coach is Brazilian and he kinda came up with that name and unfortunately the whole gym picked it up. Since then it’s just kind of stuck.”
Ducote wears it with pride as something earned through hard work and team loyalty, and is good humored enough to admit that there’s still one area where it suits her.
“I love it because it’s a gym thing, and even though it doesn’t physically apply, I still have a soft spot for donuts — so it does still apply.”
Since her loss last November to Macfarlane in the inaugural Flyweight title fight, Ducote has been focused on improving herself in all aspects of mixed martial arts (MMA).
“You know I’m not going to lie — losing in general sucks and that situation that fight itself was a hard fight, and, it, sucks. I’m a firm believer in lessons, and in change and in growth, so I did my best to take away some lessons from that fight. That’s exactly what I’ve been working on these last four months. It does suck, I was upset about it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to eat your donuts and move on with yourself.”
Ducote looked at Williams’ fight with Heather Hardy at Bellator 185 and decided Williams caught the boxer-turned fighter off guard, which something that won’t happen to the more experienced Ducote.
“In my opinion I think she just outsmarted Heather. It was Heather’s second MMA fight, and in her first fight it was basically a boxing fight inside the MMA cage. You can train kicks and you can train takedowns and you can train grappling and submissions, but the level at which people are doing it to you in training — it can be really hard training, but it is different in the cage. With Heather being so young in MMA, it’s a lesson to be learned.”
Considering Kristina Williams is only taking her second pro fight, I wondered if the veteran Ducote would be the one “teaching lessons” this weekend. And to my surprise she said, “No.”
“You know I’m not a boxer so the way Kristina’s going to fight me has got to be different. I’m expecting a different version. You can fight five different strikers and it will be completely different every time. So I’m expecting a different fight than the fight that we watched.”
That actually factors into Ducote’s overall philosophy as a fighter. She concentrates less on opponents and more on the mental preparation she can do to go along with physical training.
“You know, I have learned not to focus too much on your opponent. If you’re focusing on them, if you’re wondering what they’re doing or what they’re going to do in the fight, you kind of put them above you in your own head. Instead of putting myself down, or thinking of myself less, I am more concerned about what I’m doing and thinking less about what she could potentially do or anything like that. I’ve learned that I do better that way.”
Fighters rarely say, “I had a bad training camp” or, “I don’t like my chances here” so self-confidence going into a bout doesn’t hurt. Winning 66 percent of her fights, though, may give Ducote a little bit more.
“I’m training all my skills and all of that exactly to be ready for any situation in the cage. My hope is that I’ll be able to handle any situation standing or on the ground. That’s what fighting is — being able to put the puzzle pieces together and see what happens in there.”
For Ducote the way to make those pieces fit is to treat every opponent as being equally worthy.
“You know records are important, but records aren’t the fighter. Regardless of if she’s 1-0 or my record 6-3 you can be different every time. Every fight will be different. I don’t focus on record, I don’t think about that, and I don’t wonder what Bellator does any more. They offer somebody, we accept, that’s how it goes. That’s how I want it to be. I don’t want to turn down fights, I don’t want to ask for people. I just, you know, whatever comes ... go with it. I’ve learned so many things since fighting for Bellator.”
There’s just one thing left to know before showtime in Thackerville — what is Ducote’s favorite donut out of the case?
“(A) maple bacon donut.”
An excellent choice if I do say so myself. Don’t miss “Gordinha” Emily Ducote inside the Bellator cage taking on the up-and-coming Kristina Williams this Friday at Bellator 195.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Caldwell vs. Higo” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.