Jessica-Rose Clark is off to a great start since coming to the UFC. The flyweight fighter known as Jessy Jess defeated Bec Rawlings in November 2017 and followed that up less than two months later with a win over fan favorite Paige VanZant. The Australian born mixed martial artist recently sat down with Tony Reid to answer a few questions.
TR – Do you feel the recent win over Paige VanZant has catapulted you to an entirely new level of notoriety and recognition?
JC – “I think so but more promotionally than anything else. My UFC debut against Bec, who was super tough opponent, was great, too. We are both Aussies and we fought in Australia and that was a really, really amazing and tough debut. I think with a win over someone with the name recognition that Paige has, I can only keep going up. I sat here thinking about it before the fight with Paige, thinking about what the negatives could be coming out of the fight and there were none at all.”
TR – After the big win is there anybody you have your sights set on?
JC – “I just want to fight everybody to tell you the truth. I fight people all the time in the gym. I love what I do. There is no one that I believe can beat me and there is no one I don’t think I can beat. I want to fight everyone. I would like to go up against someone who is super experienced like Shevchenko. That would be great. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who it is.”
TR – You were a rising star in the sport in Australia, wining a few titles and gaining steam. What made you move literally around the world to Las Vegas and team up with Team Syndicate?
JC – “It sounds stupid but it feels like one of those predetermined, destined things. I met John Wood back in 2015 when I had my first Invicta fight in Vegas. I went back home, back to the Gold Coast and eventually moved to Sydney. I was searching for a gym that felt like home for me. I have always had amazing teammates and coaches but I never found the right fit. My manager, who wasn’t my manager at the time used his miles to fly me to Vegas. He lives here and offered to have me come out. I contacted John with the plan of stopping by and continuing on to Florida. I came out with the intention of only being there three weeks to help Roxanne Modafferi with the camp for her title fight with Invicta fight. She was challenging for the 125 pound title. It was my fourth day there and I sat with John right there in the cage after a pad session and told him I wanted to stay. There was a connection we had straight away. Not only as fighter-coach but as friends. He is one of my best friends now. I trust him more than I have ever trusted someone who has been involved in my career. That was a really big thing for me. After time went on they got me to start coaching. I made John aware that my long term goal, once I finish fighting, is to coach. I want to help other people get into the sport I love so much. He gave me a coaching jobs here and there. I teach kids Muay Thai every day. I run Muay Thai classes when the other coaches aren’t here. It’s been amazing. It’s like everything has fallen into place. Then I found 10th Planet a few months ago and the same thing happened. I walked in there and it was like family already. To me, that is a big thing. My entire family and all the friends I have ever had live in Australia. To be able to find these environments where I am welcomed so quickly and find people who want to help me because they want to see me succeed rather than to benefit themselves, it’s been amazing. I have it really good and there is no other place that will create as many opportunities for me. The Paige fight is my fifth with Team Syndicate. That’s five fights in the last 14 months and each one has gotten better and better with bigger and bigger opportunities. Things are going amazing here.”
TR – You had a very interesting childhood where you traveled from place to place with your mother and basically lived on the road. What was the most memorable stop or time during your travels?
JC – “There are so many good things that happened. I remember we lived in this one place called Berry Farms. It was owned by a physically disabled man. My mom was his caregiver for a while. We got to live on this beautiful farm. It was acres and acres full or orchards and fruits and vegetables. They had cattle and horses. It was a place where anyone could come and live for nothing, they just had to contribute to the farming. You worked for your board. We lived in a tent. There were people who lived in teepees. There were families all around. We would have big communal cookups. Everyone would contribute. I have been in so many environment like that. That wasn’t the only place like that were we lived. My mom gave us a really cool upbringing, man. It was amazing.”
TR – Is your mom your hero?
JC – “Oh, yeah. She raised six kids pretty much on her own. She quit working a really good job when she found out she was pregnant with me. She has dedicated her entire life to her kids. She has a terrible illness and she still continues to work every day. She looks after other people who can’t look after themselves even though there are times she needs someone to look after her. Any time I start to feel like things are getting a bit tough I just think about how she goes in there and cares for everyone else before she cares for herself. I could never give up on anything knowing she is doing that.”
TR – Outside of combat sports you participated in more traditional sports. What is your favorite sport outside of MMA?
JC – “Honestly, I never watched any combat sport until two years after I started training. I only started training in my early twenties. Before that, when I was in school, I just loved playing everything. I really loved playing basketball. I was really good at basketball because I was more physical than most of the girls that were playing. Then this thing happened when I turned 15 where I just stopped growing. Everyone else grew taller than me. I have been 5’4” since I was fifteen. All these other girls were so much taller than me. It became difficult. I have these tiny arms and short, little legs. It just didn’t work for me anymore.”
TR – Who is your favorite team and favorite player?
JC – “I have a few Clippers jerseys but I really want to meet LeBron James. I want to meet LeBron so bad. I really love that man.”
TR – Who are your favorite face punchers to watch?
JC – “It has always been Frankie Edgar and Dan Hardy. Since the day I started watching MMA I have always liked those two most. It still blows my mind every day that I have been able to meet both of them and that I was interviewed by Dan Hardy. He interviewed me in the cage after I won in Sydney. I was at the TUF Finale and saw Daniel Cormier interviewing fighters in the cage and I wondered if he had interviewed me. Then I realized it was Dan and I had this adrenaline dump because I hadn’t even realized it was one of my heroes from day one that had interviewed me after my fight.”