Emily Ducote has had a rollercoaster ride of a career throughout her first seven years as a professional mixed martial artist.
Undeniably on her best run yet after capturing Invicta Fighting Championship’s gold at 115-pounds, Ducote is now Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bound for a date with Jessica Penne on July 16, 2022, at UFC Long Island.
“It’s kicked in, I’m definitely still excited about it,” Ducote told MMA Mania. “I knew that I was gonna be really excited and my team was going to be really excited for a few days so I allowed myself to kind of be over the top excited a couple days and now we’ve kind of settled in and really just got to work on this camp and it’s perfect timing. I’m familiar with the opponent, I’m familiar with everybody, but I’m just settling in and camp is getting in its flow.”
As is often the case for fighters on the come-up getting their UFC debuts in the modern-day, Ducote’s too will come on somewhat of short notice after Penne’s original opponent, Brianna Fortino, was forced out with injury. However, in comparison to most opportunities presenting themselves in these types of cases, Ducote has much more time than is often granted.
“In my mind, I don’t think six weeks is ‘short’ notice,” Ducote said. “I’ve been offered a fight on three days’ notice by the UFC so this is like a good amount of time to prepare and it’s perfect timing in my mind. And the only thing is UFC books fights so far in advance, like three to four months, so that’s why I was trying to understand people are saying short notice because the normal time is three to four months. I’m excited, it’s the perfect time for me. I don’t really like to have the super-long camp because it’s just like… a super-long camp. That four to eight-week period is like perfect timing for me.”
After going 2-1 in her first three career bouts, Ducote (11-6) joined the ranks of the Bellator Flyweight division where she enjoyed an eight-fight run. The experience gained was priceless despite mixed results, but ultimately it led “Gordinha” to the Strawweight class that’s seen her truly come into her own.
Riding a three-fight win streak consisting of strong wins over former Invicta Atomweight champion Alesha Zappitella and former UFC veterans, Danielle Taylor and Juliana Lima, Ducote is 5-1 since departing Bellator for Invicta and dropping divisions.
“I feel like I am not coming from a super small show and taking this big jump into the UFC which is really cool because I’ve got my feet wet in other big promotions that are big promotions but obviously not as big as the UFC,” Ducote said. “So I do feel like it’s more of a level up instead of like a big jump so I’m excited and I’m really glad I’ve had the experience I’ve had so I can kind of take this and not be in total shock with it. I know it’s gonna be really new, I know it’s gonna be a lot of emotions going on when I’m there, but I’m looking forward to it and that’s kind of the whole point. Put myself in new situations and see what I can do in those situations.”
Rather than letting the typical pressures of fighting get to her, Ducote, 28, likes to do her best to turn any nerves into positive and motivating reinforcement. As evidenced by her last performance successfully defending her title against Zappitella, Ducote’s focus appears to have reached a scary point of unshakeable.
In the end, that will all be put to the test when touching down in Long Island, New York for a showdown with a true pioneer and fellow former Invicta champion.
“I’m very familiar with her just because she’s kind of come up in Invicta and I’ve pretty much watched Invicta since the very beginning,” Ducote said of Penne. “I’ve seen Jessica’s Invicta career, her UFC career, so it’s really exciting to fight somebody who is a veteran. I’d be excited with any opponent, but Jessica is really good. I’m just excited; for this fight, this match-up. It’s cool that it’s in an arena with fans. It’s been a minute since that’s happened so I’m just overly excited.”