Dear Roxy – How young is too young for MMA?

Roxanne Modafferi is back to answer your most burning questions about MMA, the UFC, and life in general, 'Happy Warrior' style with her Dear Roxy column.

By: Roxanne Modafferi | 4 weeks ago
Dear Roxy – How young is too young for MMA?
Illustration by BE Art Director Chris Rini

MMA is a sport filled with burning questions. What’s the right way to defend an armbar? What’s the best way to cut weight? How many Demetrious Johnsons would it take to beat on Francis Ngannou? Fortunately, former UFC title contender Roxanne Modafferi has the answers, in her Bloody Elbow exclusive column, ‘Dear Roxy’.

In our last edition, Roxy tackled a few more of readers’ burning quandaries, such as striking a work-life balance, personal sponsors in the UFC and whether the promotion should bring them back, the ever-popular topic of food and diet; what does eating like a fighter do to someone’s view of daily calorie intake?

This time around we’ve got questions on theatrical presentation, the appropriate age at which to begin cage fighting, secrets for boosting sales to regional MMA events, and advice for female fighters on resisting pressure to develop a sexualized persona for marketing purposes.

Let’s get to it.

Dear Roxy – MMA theatrics

Do you think embracing more theatrical elements of past MMA orgs would be beneficial for the organization? – Fibz again

Dear Fibz,

Yes. Flames. Smoke is pretty cool, too. A few times I walked out to a barrage of flashing lights above, and flames to the side. It was SO COOL! I hadn’t expected that. The promotion did it for everyone. I was trying to focus on the fight while walking to the cage, but thought, “Omg there are flames! And smoke! Omg, this is cool. I feel cool!”

Dear Roxy – Too young?

Do you consider 18 or 19 too young for professional MMA? — proxy13

Dear Proxy13,

Well, I’m mainly concerned with brain development. It has finished growing by the time a kid becomes a teenager. Then, it continues until the early or mid-twenties. A fighter should obviously be training hard before debuting as an amateur, and then pro, so all those blows to the head will be taking place while the young brain is developing. I’d say that’s not great. However, nowadays, fighters are entering the sport younger and younger, so the young strong ones are getting ahead early. I’d say the fighters should be educated on brain health and have an older adult looking out for them.

Dear Roxy – Ticket sales

Suggestions for boosting sales? Especially at the more regional shows/ level where you live & die by your individual ticket sales. – TehMilkMannTeam

Dear TehMilkMannTeam,

Well, word of mouth is overlooked a lot, I think. Tell your friends and have them invite theirs. Ask your teammates to have a fun night out and watch together. People tend to be more inclined to watch if they care about you, or have some kind of personal connection. Or you could talk smack really hard.

Dear Roxy – True self

You stayed true to yourself as the happy warrior. What advice would you give to young wmma fighters about dealing with the pressures to have an aggressive or over confident persona? Or the pressures of having a sexualized social media presence?  — somewhatfamiliar2223

Dear Somewhatfamiliar,

Honestly, sex is one of the things that sells the most. That route wasn’t for me, of course. You have to try to be interesting and noteworthy in some other way. My advice would be to find a way to stand out, either with a hobby you show off on your social media, personality, smack talk, or even fighting style. If you don’t want to give in to the sexualized social media pressure, don’t!

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 Substack or Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

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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).

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