If you were listening only to the tone of Felicia Spencer’s voice, you’d think she picked up a major win on Saturday and not her first professional loss.
Spencer spoke to MMA Fighting shortly after dropping a unanimous decision to former featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in the co-main event of UFC 240 in Edmonton, Alberta, and she was able to take some solace in becoming just the fourth fighter to go the distance against Cyborg in a losing effort. That list includes former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm (who met Cyborg in a five-round bout) and current Invicta FC flyweight champion Vanessa Porto.
“I am happy that I wasn’t finished,” Spencer said. “I just kept coming and I felt pretty good about the first round, it was a good feeling honestly going into the second round, I really thought I could push forward with it. And just knowing that feeling I had going into the second round, I really felt like I really, really could win and could find a way to make it happen.
“Just knowing how I felt in that moment gives me a lot of hope and inspiration for the future. I really know I can do it, I can become the champion.”
Before running into Cyborg, the 28-year-old Floridian by way of Montreal, Quebec, won her first seven pro bouts. She went 6-0 in Invicta, capturing that promotion’s featherweight title before making the jump to the UFC where she made a spectacular debut with a first-round submission of Megan Anderson in May.
Immediately afterwards, Spencer set her sights on Cyborg and the buzz around the unbeaten prospect began to grow, reaching a fever pitch as she had her first fight week in her native Canada. Spencer acquitted herself well with the media ahead of her matchup with Cyborg and she agreed with the suggestion that her popularity grew despite not getting her hand raised at UFC 240.
“I was definitely feeling the love,” Spencer said. “It was pretty cool to feel supported by a lot of people that were new or just other people I respected. Especially after the fight. As much as I hated the outcome, I feel I could take away some good things from it and I definitely didn’t do things the way I wanted to, but if I’m gonna lose to Cyborg I guess people are pretty happy with the way I lost.
“It’s pretty cool to hear some of the comments and support, so that’s sort of a consolation, I guess.”
Spencer did not attend the evening’s post-fight press conference, but she says it was simply because she wasn’t asked to do so, not due to her needing any additional medical care. Her unofficial assessment of the damage amounted to “swelling and soreness on my face” and a sore leg.
It was actually Spencer who drew first blood in the bout, slicing Cyborg’s forehead with an elbow in the opening round. It was the first time Cyborg had been cut in an MMA bout. Though Spencer wasn’t aware that she was the first fighter to inflict that kind of damage on Cyborg, it still gave her an early boost of confidence.
In the end, that boost did not propel her to a win, but Spencer, who headed west of Edmonton to check out the Canadian Rockies on Monday, is carrying the same positive energy that she brought into the bout (and that she regularly brings to the students in her grade school math classes).
“I don’t know, just perspective, I guess,” Spencer answered when asked how she maintained a cheery disposition following her loss. “Definitely inside, it sucks, but I knew it was going to be a big challenge. I really thought I could do it and I still think I can, just executing things a little better. But I always am lucky to be where I’m at, so it’s just a matter of perspective.
“I’m sitting in a car sitting at a beautiful mountain next to my fiance, so I can’t complain. I have to practice what I preach, when kids in my class fail, it’s just a matter of learning from it and getting back to it. So I’m definitely excited to get back to it.”
As for when Spencer plans to compete again, she hasn’t set a time frame for herself. However, she’s confident that when she’s ready to take another booking, the UFC matchmakers will be able to find a worthy featherweight opponent for her.
“I haven’t really thought about when I want to return, but I definitely want to,” Spencer said. “I know I need to take a little bit of time off and then I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to it, and to continue improving, and get back in the win column.
“I do feel like they’ll find me an opponent. I could fight Cris Cyborg again next, that’s fine with me, whoever it is, it’s fine. It does seem like they’re making some things happen in the division, so I’m not sure about the timeline, but not too far off, for sure.”