After proving her prowess in the cage, UFC fighter Ashlee Evans-Smith is stepping into the limelight with a burgeoning acting career and a growing modeling portfolio. We go a few rounds with the multitalented MMA star to catch up on how she’s getting her kicks lately.
Five years into her UFC career, Ashlee Evans-Smith has certainly experienced the highs and lows that come with being a professional mixed martial artist.
After initially bursting onto the scene with a technical knockout of controversial transgender fighter Fallon Fox while doing battle in a smaller promotion back in 2013—a win that still gets her mentioned on Joe Rogan’s podcast when the subject of transgender athletes comes up—Evans-Smith became one of the hottest prospects in women’s MMA before she’d even signed with the UFC. In the years since, the flyweight has done her best to not only grow as an individual and a fighter, but also as an ambassador of a sport that wasn’t nearly as open to women back when she started training a decade ago.
“When someone like Ronda Rousey says she isn’t interested in being a role model, I think that’s really selfish.”
“When you become a professional athlete and you’re in the limelight, you didn’t ask to become a role model, but it’s a part of the job that comes with it,” Evans-Smith says. “You have to remember how many young girls and people there are out there who aren’t lucky enough to do what you do and look up to you as role models. When someone like Ronda Rousey says she isn’t interested in being a role model, I think that’s really selfish. For me, it’s something that I really appreciate, and that’s part of why I show respect to my opponents both when I’m fighting and in interviews. I’ll always try to be respectful of my opponents [and other mixed martial artists] and I’ll forever be grateful for the timing of everything that’s happened in my life, because there were so many women who came before me and weren’t allowed in the UFC, or didn’t get paid enough to make it a full-time job.“