Alexis Davis Comes Full Circle

A little over six years ago, Alexis Davis began the first chapter of her career as a professional mixed martial artist. That night, the Port Colborne, Ontario native stepped into the cage for the first time, coming out on the business end of a third-round stoppage loss against another promising Canadian female fighter, Sarah Kaufman.

Though things didn’t go as planned, it was a start, and we all have to start somewhere.

For Davis, that somewhere was Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Saturday night, the 28-year-old fighter begins the next chapter in her career. This one is titled “UFC,” and fittingly enough, it starts right back where everything began six years and 18 fighters earlier.

“I don’t know if it’s just being back in Canada, or if it’s back in Winnipeg where this all started for me, but it’s almost like a new beginning now,” Davis told FOXSports.com. “Being able to fight for the UFC, and it’s almost like I’m fighting at home — I don’t know, but it makes me feel more comfortable.

“This is the first time since I fought in Niagara Falls, New York (in November 2006) that I’ve been able to have any of my family come out and watch, and I’m excited that I’m going to have my mom, my sister, and my two aunts there.”

Her family will watch her enter the history books, becoming the first Canadian female to compete in the UFC when she squares off with British veteran Rosi Sexton as part of the pay-per-view main card of UFC 161 this weekend at the MTS Centre.

While Davis’ strong three-fight showing under the Strikeforce banner and consecutive victories in the Invicta FC cage assured her of the opportunity to step into the Octagon when the UFC announced they would add the women’s bantamweight ranks to the fold in December 2012, many were surprised when Sexton was tabbed to share the cage with her on Saturday night.

That includes Davis.

“When they gave me Rosi’s name, it kind of threw me for a loop,” admitted Davis, who has amassed a 13-4 record since dropping her debut to Kaufman in April 2007. “Honestly, I didn’t see that coming because she usually fights at a lower weight class.

“I have a huge amount of respect for her. I think that a lot of people underestimate her, and the more people that underestimate her, it kind of makes me look at her even closer. I enjoy being the underdog — there aren’t too many cases where I’m not — and I expect her to come in thinking she’s going to win. She’s been in this game long enough; she’s not going to come into this fight expecting to lose.”

Sexton, who enters the contest on a three-fight winning streak and sporting a stellar 13-2 record overall, has questioned whether Davis is looking past her, suggesting the Canadian envisions this as an easy win that brings her one step closer to fighting for the women’s bantamweight title.

“The only thing I’m looking ahead to is going to see my family, but that’s going to happen regardless,” laughed Davis, who plans on heading home to the Niagara region following her main card meeting with Sexton on Saturday night. ““It’s unfortunate for her to think that way, but I never look past my opponent.

“A lot of us are looking at that title, regardless of who has it, but I think my performance with this fight (will determine what comes next). If I look past it and don’t perform the way I should, it’s not going to get me anywhere. Even if I come out with a win, but it’s a boring fight, we all know what Dana White thinks is a good fight; he wants to be entertained, and that’s what I’m looking at now.”

With each subsequent fight, the once hesitant UFC President becomes a bigger advocate and more vocal supporter of the female fighters. So far, every bout in the women’s bantamweight division has been an action-packed affair.

Champion Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche kicked things off with a back-and-forth battle in the UFC 157 main event, which Rousey won via her signature armbar.

Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate followed that with a thrilling, three-round battle that saw Zingano collect a third-round stoppage victory over the former Strikeforce champion.

Two weeks later, Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann maintained her unbeaten record and announced her presence as a potential contender with a dominant, first-round stoppage win over “The German Tank,” Sheila Gaff, at UFC 159.

Now it’s Davis’ turn, and as much as she’d like to deny it, the Canadian contender admitted the pressure is on heading into her UFC debut.

“I’d like to say no, but we’re still developing a fan base, so you want to make sure that you have a good fight,” said Davis, a submission specialist who holds black belts in both Japanese and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. “I know I’m usually pretty entertaining when I fight, and I have an aggressive nature, so I can usually fall back on that.”

Fighting on the biggest stage in the sport for the first time and the pressure to continue the trend established by Rousey, Zingano, and McMann before her could overwhelm some fighters, but Davis is more excited than anxious. She’s looking forward to introducing herself to the UFC audience in impressive fashion on Saturday night.

“Hopefully having the experience of fighting for Strikeforce, my emotions won’t be too high. This is a huge honor, and it’s really put my career in perspective that I’ve been able to work this hard and get to where I am today. It hasn’t come easy — I never had any big jumps ahead — but I’m happy that I can say I’m still in my 20s, I’m fighting for the UFC, and I have a couple more good years in me to fight.

“As soon as that cage door closes, you forget everything else is going on; it’s just me and her. You hear your corner — they’re that voice on your shoulder — but it’s just go back and get the win.”