Jessica Rose Clark explains how she fell back in love with MMA after considering retiring briefly


This weekend at UFC Vegas 48, Jessica-Rose Clark will take on Stephanie Egger in a women’s bantamweight bout. It will be Clark’s seventh fight in the UFC and fourth in the organization’s bantamweight division, but there’s a world where that never happens for Clark because not that long ago, the 34-year old Australian was contemplating retirement.

“I considered retiring after [losing to Pannie Kianzad in 2019] because I was just so unhappy,” Clark told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Like, ‘Why am I doing this if I can’t even win a fight? I keep losing.’ I’d lost two in a row before but everything is super dramatic when you’re in the middle of it. Looking back at it, it was almost two years ago. I am grateful for the fact that it happened because I realized that I had to reset my priorities and change how I handled external stress. It was all I did to try and sweep the matter under the carpet and get on with my life. It was clear when it came to fighting time, and that I felt extra pressure and stress.”

Before she lost to Kianzad Clark dropped another unanimous decision to Jessica Eye. She claims that her ongoing personal issues — including injuries and switching fight camps and moving between them — had a negative impact on her performance and robbed her of her passion for fighting. But then when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Clark says that the unique circumstances she faced early on helped remind her of why she loved the sport in the fitrst place.

“I took a decent amount of time off and then when COVID happened and all the gyms shut down,” Clarke said. We were offering online classes and only me and one fighter were permitted in the gym. I was allowed to demonstrate the classes online, so it really made me realise that I wouldn’t miss these if I left.

” Then, when I signed up to face Sarah Alpar that was my “make or break” fight. When I signed the fight I decided that if this camp is not enjoyable and that I do not enjoy fighting again, then that was it. It was liberating in itself. I think it was because Sarah was the first fight I ever fought. I was free from any pressure to win or lose, and I was just enjoying doing what I was doing again . This fight made me appreciate how much this is something I love. I believe that if I had not fought when and where I did, my story would have been different .”


It wasn’t just the training that Clark credits for rejuvenating her love for MMA. Clark says that her coach Kirian Fitzgibbons and friend Hans Molenkamp were also instrumental in helping her get to a better head space, and after losing to Kianzad, Clark became seeing a therapist who she says has been integral in changing her perspective about fighting.

“I lost to Pannie Kianzad and Hans Molenkamp, from Monster, was there for me. Clark explained that he was there for me throughout the week, and could see how I was in such a state. He also gifted me a few sessions with his therapist after the fight. “She has completely changed my life. She really helped me to recognize that I was not focusing so heavily on winning or losing, as we fighters put so much value in our wins. That’s our sole identity, are we winners or are we losers? In a sport where you fight one-on-one, it can be difficult to feel lost if you lose. It’s very hard to separate yourself from the decision. My therapist helped me to peel away all layers, remember why I began this sport and what I loved about it, and not focus on the final .”


All Clark has done is hard work. She won two consecutive fights since losing to Kianzad. Most recently, Clark defeated Joselyne Eds. Here, she demonstrated her growth as a fighter by scoring five takedowns and controlling Edwards. This result led to an unanimous decision. Clark doesn’t foresee this performance being repeated. Some fans were disappointed by her poor strike output.

” The thing that has tripped my up most since the last bout is the hate mail and comments I receive asking, “Are you even going to throw a strike?’ Clark stated. “I’ve had 22 fights and I wrestled one time. Literally one time I wrestled! The other 21 were all striking. Because people don’t remember what your last fight was, I am now in the box.

“That last fight was the right plan for that opponent. Joselyn Edwards is a powerful striker. We knew she had power. Our goal is always to win by someone’s B-game. Her B-game was her wrestling so that was the smartest thing I could do for that particular opponent. I felt so hurt at first, and was reluctant to go back. [Laughs]. My next opponent’s A-game is her grappling, which almost forces me to become a striker once again.

UFC Vegas 48 takes place this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.