The woman loves pit bulls. What can you say? A lot of people are dog lovers. Canines are engaging, fun to be around, and they truly are a person’s best friend. However, pit bulls carry a different kind of stigma that dates back to the 1980s. These dogs are strong and agile, and if not trained properly, their aggression can rise to the surface. These animals have been bred for fighting too, initially in bull- or bear-baiting sports and eventually against one another. In a lot of ways, people have been bred for fighting as well.
Emily Ducote has been a professional MMA fighter for almost five years. She’s a bit of a pit bull in her own right. She’s 8-6 as a pro, but she has only been stopped once. She has no problem going the distance with even the toughest of opponents. She’s also a pit bull mama.
“Gym and dogs [are] my life,” Ducote told Combat Press. “It’s a pit-mix pack. I’ve got six little pits running around. I have worked with some of the rescues in Oklahoma, and somehow I ended up with six. They keep me busy, that’s for sure.”
When she’s not spending time with her pups, the California native is busy training at American Top Team in Oklahoma City. Occasionally, she will travel to train with friends Mallory Martin and Sam Hughes, as well.
After an eight-fight run with Bellator MMA, including a nearly five-round flyweight title match with Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Ducote headed back to the regional circuit before signing with Invicta Fighting Championships. After winning her promotional debut in August, she was up for a strawweight title shot in November against Kanako Murata. It was a bloody, five-round battle that went to the judges, who dealt Ducote the loss in a split decision.
“I’ve got a lot of thoughts about that fight,” Ducote said. “I am, however, satisfied with myself. I think I did really good in that fight, showing different skills than I have. As far as judging, you just never know. I feel good about myself and how I performed. And, yes, it was a close fight. I’m satisfied with it. I was happy with my performance, but not always happy with the results.”
Ducote was chomping at the bit to get back in contention. As most people know, 2020 has gone to hell in a handbasket. Events were being cancelled left and right as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spread. However, Ducote was still focused on getting back to work.
“I was hopeful,” Ducote said. “Shannon [Knapp, Invicta President and CEO] has been really great. My coach was in contact with her that we would like to be on the next card after the COVID stuff. So, whenever that was, we wanted to be on it. She had thrown around some May dates, and it finally got finalized for July, and I’m happy to be on this card.”
On Thursday night, July 2, on an event that airs live on UFC Fight Pass from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., Ducote will serve as one half of the main event against Juliana Lima. It’s only been about a four-week camp since everything was finalized, but Ducote is more than ready to go. The 38-year-old Lima is nearly a decade into her pro career, and after a seven-fight run in the UFC, she is now 1-1 in Invicta. Her most recent fight ended in a loss to Brianna Van Buren in May 2019.
“She is obviously coming from the UFC and has experience, with a few more fights than I do,” Ducote said. “I feel like we’re pretty even on the experience level. I think she’s a well-rounded opponent, and I really like the match-up. I think it’s a good fight.”
Ducote is never one to back down from a challenge, and Lima provides a good litmus test for the next evolution of her career, which would be a shot in the big show. That is where she plans to be in the next five years or less.
“My goal is always to compete at the highest level, and the UFC obviously has the highest level women’s 115-pound division,” Ducote explained. “So, that is one of my goals.”
Ducote has come a long way in a short time, but she is still just getting started. Bellator taught her what it’s like to perform in front of a lot of people under big lights, but she’s still only 26 years old with a lot of time ahead of her. She will be on a huge stage at Invicta FC 40, as she tries to get back in the win column and continues to move toward her ultimate goal of fighting in the Octagon.