Sabina Mazo’s win over Justine Kish – her third in the UFC – felt particularly important for a couple reasons. She earned her first stoppage in the Octagon, and that stoppage, a third-round rear naked choke, happened to also be the first submission win of her professional career. It was the kind of performance you like to see from an up-and-coming prospect four fights into their UFC career: calm, measured and vicious when the opportunity presented itself.
In Mazo’s mind, that finish is a sign of her just getting started.
“First (finish) of many,” she told UFC.com. “I felt like it’s just beginning. I feel like it was a great submission, and it’s one of the styles that I like as well. Why not do some jiu-jitsu? It’s MMA, so more and more are coming.”
Primarily a striker (a pair of head kick knockouts while fighting under the LFA banner are particularly eye-popping), Mazo came into the UFC with some hype, but she stumbled in her debut against Maryna Moroz, her first and only professional loss. It was an important fight for her, though, teaching her some lessons about life in the Octagon and the kind of competition she was facing at the top level.
She has ripped off three straight wins since then, and now she gets her biggest name yet in Alexis Davis, who challenged Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title almost seven years ago and has fought many of the other biggest names in the sport. The fight also marks Mazo’s bantamweight debut.
“I’m honored to be offered for this fight,” Mazo said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me to fight at 135 against an experienced veteran fighter, so I’m ready for it. I think all my years of experience in my training with my mentality is just all for the victory.”
Mazo is well aware of Davis’ career in the UFC, and although she’s coming off a trio of losses to mirror Mazo’s own winning streak, Mazo is keen on the chance this fight presents her.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me to step up,” Mazo said. “I respect her. She’s done a lot in this sport, but I gotta be a little bit selfish, and it’s my time.”
That the fight is happening at 135 pounds is an interesting factor. Mazo hasn’t missed the flyweight limit, and the division itself feels like it is filling out with more prospects with each card. Mazo’s focus seems to be turning toward bantamweight, though, and she made sure to prepare for the bigger weight class properly.
“The preparation was built for (moving up),” she said. “There was just preparation for me to be ready for 135, not just, ‘Ah, it’s going to be easier to make weight.’ No. I feel like I just made myself a 135 fighter, and I’m ready for it. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me and for everyone to see myself in this division.”
Training at Kings MMA in California, Mazo enjoys the way her camps replicate the fiery nature and feelings of fight night. She describes the feeling as something she doesn’t always access in camp but that is necessary to match so she is prepared to confront it when it’s go time.
“I’m a naturally competitive person,” Mazo said. “I feel like training guides me to that fire. Training is different from fighting, for sure, but we have sparring, we have training, and it just feels like I feel that desire and that competitive part of me for one day, the day of the fight.”
At just 23 years old, Mazo is one of the brighter, yet under the radar, prospects in the sport. A definitive win over Alexis Davis certainly puts her into another level of conversation, and given the improvements she has shown each time she steps into the Octagon, it’s understandable to hear her plainly talk about how she is imagining this fight going.
“My goal is to finish her,” Mazo said. “I really imagine myself getting the victory, so at any point of the fight, I want to finish her.”