Despite a fantastic career as a boxer, in which she has won multiple world titles and beaten some of the sport’s biggest names, Jessica Rakoczy remains almost completely unknown. Other than the few who follow the women closely, her talents as a fighter have gone unrecognized. So, like many female fighters who have gone under appreciated, she has set her sights to a sport where the women have been getting a lot of publicity over the past couple years.
Recently Holly Holm, probably the most famous active boxer, made the move to MMA full time. Realizing that there was little money to be made in boxing and forced to fight in her home state of New Mexico almost exclusively to make that, she started dabbling in the much newer sport which had produced such well known athletes as Gina Carano, Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg.
Ava Knight is another boxing champion, who has both the looks and ability that should garner some attention from fans. However, at least here in the United States, few have caught on. But she is not ready or willing to make the career change, so she fights on. Her last six fights have all been either to defend her title, or to capture a new one. Yet she is not competing in Las Vegas, New York, or even on some small Native American reservation. Instead, if she wants to make enough to earn a living, she has had to take all those fights in Mexico, where at least there is some interest in female fighters.
Jessica Rakoczy is caught somewhere in the middle. Though her first love is boxing, she does enjoy MMA, and has recognized that that is where the future may lay. Although she is the current IBA super bantamweight champion, she has had difficulty finding an opponent to defend her title against. Fortunately, a potential opportunity elsewhere has presented itself.
Recently, the UFC held open tryouts for it upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter 18. For the first time, women were being included, and as might be expected, some of the best women in the world flocked to the tryouts hoping to be included in the upcoming season. Legendary fighters such as Shayna Baszler and Tara Larosa were there. And so was Jessica Rakoczy.
On the surface, it would seem like a pipe dream. She has just a 1-3 record as a pro. But a record does not always tell the full story. Her losses came against three of the top competitors in MMA, and her third loss, a split decision loss to Felice Herrig was highly debatable. Furthermore, she took those fights with little to no training on the ground. As expected, Michelle Ould and Zoila Frausto easily capitalized on her inexperience there.
Finally, Rakoczy realized she needed to become more well-rounded if she hoped to succeed. She enlisted the help of jiu-jitsu guru Robert Drysdale, and for the last two years has worked extensively on her grappling. That, coupled with her stand-up game overseen by Dewey Cooper, has made her an incredibly dangerous fighter no matter where the fight takes place.
By all reports, she did very well at the tryouts, holding her own with the other girls. Although the names of the those who made the cut have not been released yet, no matter what happens, she has announced herself as a force to be dealt with going forward.
As for boxing, it remains to be seen what the future holds for her there. Like most boxers, she needs to compete to make a living. If there are not enough fights out there, and for not enough money, she may be forced to focus more on MMA. It’s sad that this is the case, but until women’s boxing does something to draw in some fans, it may continue to lose fighters to MMA, and worse yet, see fewer girls even learn the sport in the first place.