Ashlee Evans-Smith is set to return to the cage for the second time as a professional, this Friday at CFA 11. This fight is part of CFA’s 145-pound women’s tournament. In the semifinals, Evans-Smith is set to face Anna Barone. Only aware of her basic stats, and having seen a few of her fight videos, Evans-Smith feels she has prepared appropriately for the fight. She said, “I’m not too concerned about what she brings to the table as much as I am focused on going out there and doing what I know I’m capable of.”
Over the past few years, women’s MMA has grown drastically and has become more mainstream. The former face of WMMA Gina Carano has crossed over into acting; while the new face Ronda Rousey is landing ESPN covers. Evans-Smith is also seeing the benefits with the rise in popularity. “There are more promotions we can fight for which means more chances to travel, bigger pay checks, and more exposure (and recognition) and the ability to do what we love.”
The rise in popularity has also caused the UFC to feature both women and men on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. TUF 18 will feature bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano as the coaches. Recently, there was a rumored cast list for TUF 18 and Ashlee Evans-Smith was on it. She couldn’t give me details about what has gone on with the show, but she feels that everyone who enjoys WMMA should be excited about the opportunity given by the UFC.
“We’re about to see some entertaining and exciting fights along with a little drama for the reality TV show lovers. This will mean more fans and supporters, more march ups on big UFC cards, and an increase in the unstoppable rise of WMMA.”
On the same night, just a few fights later, the transgendered fighter Fallon Fox will be competing as well. Fox is on the other side of the tournament bracket. If both Ashlee Evans-Smith and Fallon Fox get past their opponents Friday night, they will meet in the finals of the CFA tournament. There have been plenty of women (and their coaches) that simply said that they wouldn’t fight Fox, or that she should be able to compete against other women for the fact that she was once a man. However, now that Fox is allowed to compete in the tournament, there aren’t too many things an opposing fighter can do. They can either “woman up” and take the fight, or they can get off the pot. Ashlee Evans-Smith is by no means looking past her upcoming opponent, but if her and Fox were to meet in the finals, Evans-Smith said this of the potential match up, “I will fight Fallon Fox if she is what stands in the way of me and that belt.”
CFA will air live on AXS TV Friday, May 24th. Make sure to tune in at 9 pm CST to see Ashlee Evans-Smith take on Anna Barone in the semi-finals of the 145lb women’s tournament.
Follow Ashlee on Twitter @AshleeMMA1
UPDATE: Because Anna Barone failed to make weight (she didn’t get on the scale, but reportedly 20-25 over the 145 weight limit), Ashlee Evans-Smith advances to the tournament finals and will face the winner of Fallon Fox vs. Allanna Jones.