It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since Alexis Dufresne last climbed into the cage to put in an honest day’s work.
The Team Quest fighter dropped a unanimous decision to Marion Reneau at UFC 182, which was her second consecutive loss. To add salt to the wound of defeat, Dufresne, who had missed weight for the second straight fight as well, was subsequently released from the UFC.
In the meantime, the Californian used her time away from combat to not only reflect on what had gone wrong in her last two fights but to also start a family. Five months ago she gave birth to a baby boy and the miracle of life gave her a new lease on hers.
“It’s a life-changing experience,” she revealed to Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “It programmed me to be a lot more dedicated to my life and my career. He’s motivated me even more to get out there and fight to be the best. He is my whole world. I literally started training five days after I had him so I can better provide for him as soon as I could, to build a better life for him than the one I had.”
Her re-focused dedication isn’t something that came because she lost her way in training, however. She admitted that she was out of her league in the UFC but not because she wasn’t as good as her opponents, but because she was out of her element at bantamweight. A natural featherweight, Dufresne said that having to drop all that extra weight nearly killed her and it showed in her two performances inside the Octagon.
“I’m happy to be at my normal weight again and I’m able to train better because of it,” she stated. “I feel so much better and I’m not killing myself cutting those extra pounds. People are going to see a totally different fighter than the one they saw in the UFC.
“Nobody saw the real me and everything I’m capable of doing back when I was in the UFC,” she added. “I literally gave myself heat stroke during the [Reneau] weigh-ins while making that weight cut. That weight class wasn’t for me. Normally when people get heat stroke, they have to rest for a couple of days but I had to fight the next day. Having to lose all that weight for a division you’re not suited for doesn’t let people see what you’re really capable of.”
Though she wasn’t looking for a shoulder to cry on when telling of her struggles to make 135 pounds, she is adamant that things need to change in all of the combat sports regarding weight cutting and she believes she has the solution.
“Fighters should have to weigh in the day of the fight,” she declared. “What’s the point of having these weight classes when most of the fighters don’t even naturally fight at those weights? You see a lot of these fighters taking illegal substances and masking agents so they can make weight. They are light enough one day when they go on the scale but then they’re fucking beasts the next day when it’s time to fight. It’s not right. By making us all weigh in the day of the fight, I think the sport would benefit. It would be safer, more fair and people would be fighting at their natural weights. Maybe the sport should add more weight classes to help it.”
It's an argument many have made over the years, but it’s one that likely won’t come to fruition anytime soon. But now that she is back up at 145, she can focus solely on who will stand in front of her come Friday night at Bellator 155. Dufresne is set to fight Marloes Coenen, by far the best, most experienced fighter she’ll have faced up to this point.
“I’m prepared for a war,” she said. “She’s very experienced and has been in the sport a very long time. She’s fought the best there is and I’m not going to go down easily. I truly believe that I can pull this win out. Yes, she has a lot of more fights and more experience but at the same time, things are on my side. I’m still rising in my career.”
Be that as it may, Dufresne is a massive underdog to the Dutch submission savant, a woman with nearly five times as many pro MMA fights under her belt. Still, “Sneaky Zebra” couldn’t care less what people think because she knows in her heart that she can win because, she said, she has more on the line than Coenen.
“I don’t really let the opinions of people I don’t know bother me too much,” she said. “If you look at Ronda Rousey and how much she accomplished with that unbelievable record with all those finishes. As soon as she lost, everybody turned on her. It’s the nature the of the sport. Nobody wins forever and nobody loses forever. People can say what they want because it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going out there to fight for my kid and myself and nobody is going to stop me.”