Peggy “Daywalker” Morgan is a name you may recognize as one of the cast of the first women’s Ultimate Fighter, TUF 18. If you can’t put a face to the name, just think of the vibrant “ginger” tresses of the “Daywalker”, and remember, if you will, the fact that she was also, until recently, the Professor of Composition and Literature at Southern New Hampshire University.
Daywalker, for those who may not immediately get the connection, comes from an episode of “South Park” which describe redheads or “gingers” who do not have freckles as “Daywalkers.” The name was given to the ring announcer by a mischievous teammate prior to one of her fights, “and it just stuck.”
Morgan, who went 1-1 in the TUF house, finished the season with her UFC debut just last November, with a disappointing decision loss to Jessamyn Duke. However, already thinking ahead for the possibility, Morgan was prepared with an action plan when things fell through:
“My plan was pretty much to get with Invicta if I got cut from the UFC. I think I had my manager contact them or they might have talked to us, but it was an organic thing. I think everyone assumed it would a natural progression.”
After the season ended, Morgan said she wasn’t done with MMA, she had barely just begun, and decided to pursue it full time, resigning from her position at SNHU.
“Yeah, I’m not teaching anymore; I stopped after the UFC fight; there is too much to do with all the training, and I couldn’t stop raising my child. There is just no time in between, with my son and training. He is starting Pre-K next month, only half-day, but we are both having to rearrange our schedules.”
However, Morgan’s professional MMA record only scratches the surface of her experience in combat sports. More than ten years ago, she began training in kickboxing.
“I just walked into a gym and said, hey I want to fight, ended up with my first fight 6 months later.”
Two years later, she decided to try her hands, so to speak, at boxing, and was fairly successful, winning amateur Golden Gloves a couple times at state level, and placing 2nd and 3rd at the national level. A few years ago, just for fun, she decided to give BJJ a try, and began training in MMA at Triumph BJJ in 2011.
In January 2012, Morgan had her first MMA fight, winning by 2nd round armbar. She continued at Triumph until after TUF 18 had finished filming in April 2013, when she decided it was time for a change in team. She now trains at Mass BJJ, and has achieved her 4th stripe blue belt.
Morgan’s first opponent for Invicta is Mexican prospect, Irene “Robles” Aldana, 3-1 of Lobo Gym in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. While her record may not stand out at first glance, the facts are that all three of her wins are by 1st round knockout, all in less than a minute, and her only loss came at the hands of 10-0 undefeated Brazilian Larissa Moreira Pacheco, via 3rd round TKO. Morgan and her team at Mass BJJ are aware of all this, and forming their game plan accordingly:
“We are definitely taking her very seriously; a lot of people don’t because they haven’t heard of her. She is fairly well-rounded, but I honestly think I’m a little more well-rounded. I’m not gonna give away game plan, but I do feel like, if the fight isn’t going my way in one place, I can take it another place. I have more options than she does, and I’m also a bigger, stronger fighter than she is, physically.”
The UFC has been known, on occasion, to bring back fighters once released, who have shown solid performance outside the Octagon. Invicta FC had already caught the eyes of UFC over the last year, drawing deeply from the talent pools to stack their rosters, and now that Invicta is on UFC Fight Pass, the ties are even stronger.
Although the UFC Women’s Bantamweight class is talent-deep, it is also top-heavy, with the current and only champion, Ronda Rousey, remaining undefeated, and some even speculate that it may be quite a long time before we see a new one. Morgan gave her own opinion of her fellow bantamweights, who might be able to challenge Rousey:
“Honestly I don’t know, but I don’t think its Gina Carano. I think if Cyborg drops to 135, that’s actually her biggest threat. Holly Holm has done a really good job so far; a lot of people think boxers don’t have a ground game. But Holly is well-rounded, she knows how to grapple and has good wrestling. It’s hard to say how anyone will do against her, but I also think Holly has a good chance.”
As she speculated about her fellow bantamweights back in the UFC, Morgan considered her own career path:
“Ultimately, I would love to get back into the UFC. Even though I was let go, honestly, I know I needed the experience. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a fighter since the show; I’ve had over a year to train, to improve steadily in every area, and I feel like i’m a much better fighter than i was on the show, and with Invicta, I’ll get that cage time before I try to get back into the UFC.”