Dear Roxy – What do you think about Dana White’s Contender Series?

It’s time again for another batch of questions for Roxanne Modafferi and her Dear Roxy column, where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe-with readers’ inquiries…

By: Roxanne Modafferi | 9 months ago
Dear Roxy – What do you think about Dana White’s Contender Series?
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

It’s time again for another batch of questions for Roxanne Modafferi and her Dear Roxy column, where the ‘Happy Warrior’ goes toe-to-toe-with readers’ inquiries about fighting, training, and life in general.

Last time, we tackled questions about trash talk, gave a few thoughts about bushido spirit and the martial arts, and about what it’s like trying to maintain healthy relationships with the wide varieties of personalities in MMA camps.

This week, we’ll be looking at the long age old debate over adding more weight classes to MMA. We’re also talking nicknames and how to get ‘em. And we’ve got a few thoughts about the UFC’s latest hit talent scouting platform, Dana White’s Contender Series.

Dear Roxy,

What are your thoughts on creating a weight class in between ones where there is more than a 10 lbs difference? Like a 160-165 lbs class to get between light and welterweights? — deadguydrew

Future strawweight Valerie Letourneau and future flyweight Roxanne Modafferi competed at 135 lbs for TUF 18.

Dear deadguydrew,

For lower-weight fighters, every pound is more significant, since their total mass is less. It’s way harder for a strawweight 115lb fighter to lose one pound than a 205-pounder. Therefore, weight classes go up by ten pounds from straw, bantam, feather, and light-weight. Somebody decided that welterweight was a good time to start making bigger jumps of 15 pounds, which happens for a few weight classes, until it jumps by 20 pounds from middle to light-heavy. It’s unfortunate for those guys who feel small in the welterweight division but struggle to make weight for welter. They would love that middle weight-class, I’m sure. I felt stuck between bantam and fly for a number of years so I understand the struggle. I think the argument someone made was that it would thin the divisions if the UFC did that, but I see nothing wrong with that. It’d be a pain in the neck to remake all the divisions, I’m sure.

Dear Roxy,

How does a fighter’s nickname come about? I believe it’s not the fighters choice, but whose then? The fans? How does the whole process work? — huntexlo

Dear Huntexlo,

So all fighters want cool nicknames when they start fighting. I remember trying to think of a good nickname for myself when I first started out. I was on the train home in Japan with my coach and teammate who cornered me. I came up with dumb stuff like “The Tiger.” (Actually I can’t remember at all, but it was not great.)

The best nicknames are always ALWAYS given to a fighter by somebody—either their coach, fans, teammates, etc. It’s based on fighting style, quirk, how it rhymes with their name, or likeness to something else. Most fighters like their nicknames. Some don’t. My teammate Jeslen Michelle (PFL) said she wanted her nickname to be “Big J” but her previous coach called her “The Wrecking Ball.” Despite not loving it, she decided to stick with it. There’s always a cool “naming” story for fighters. Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is called that because his jiujitsu is so good, everyone feels like they’re sinking and can’t get back up.

I was there when Emily “Spitfire” Whitmire got her nickname on TUF 26! She doesn’t hold back her words, or in the cage. I was given my nickname by a fan on Myspace in the comments. I hope they know how thankful I am for giving it to me!

Hello Roxy!

As a pro fighter, how do you feel about things like Dana White’s Contender Series? Do you think that’s a good way to bring new talent into the mix with the vets?

It seems like Dana signs a ton of fighters who maybe get in the mix, and while it looks good for new talent exposure, it also feels a bit predatory and “throwaway” at times. Do you have any insight from the inside as a veteran that us spectators maybe don’t see? — From Reivers

Jordan Leavitt wins his Contender fight
Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC

Dear Reivers,

I’m not sure what you mean by predatory and “throwaway.” I think it’s an incredible opportunity for fighters to be seen and have a chance to join the UFC. I have multiple teammates who got into the UFC via the Contenders series, and I’m so thrilled for them. Natan Levy, Jordan “The Monkey King” Leavitt, and Jonny “Sluggernaut” Parsons are a few. It’s way easier than TUF, and cheaper for the UFC, I’m sure. Some people don’t want to watch a whole season and learn about people’s lives. They just want to see fun fights. I think it’s wonderful, and probably better than spectators think. It’s nearly impossible to get noticed by the UFC otherwise. Along those lines, I’m sure it’s very difficult to get a spot on Contenders, as well. I think it’s good there are several venues for fighters to get noticed.

If you’d like to submit your own questions for ‘Dear Roxy’ feel free to email me at, with the subject line “Dear Roxy”, or reach out on twitter @RoxyFighter with the hashtag #DearRoxy. Or simply leave your questions in a comment below on Bloody Elbow. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Share this story

About the author
Roxanne Modafferi
Roxanne Modafferi

Roxanne Modafferi is a former UFC fighter with 19 years of MMA experience. She’s fought for titles in the UFC, Strikeforce, and Invicta. A jiujitsu blackbelt, she teaches jiujitsu at the gym, and English in the classroom. Roxanne has self-published three books in addition to contributing articles for this site. In her free time, she watches anime and plays video games (Twisted Metal, Skyrim, etc).

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories