A couple of months ago Las Vegas went on lockdown and Syndicate MMA closed. UFC flyweight Roxanne Modafferi began to train at Muay Thai coach AJ Matthews’ garage, as head coach John Wood was in quarantine at home.
“We were trying to be very careful, that was the only tough part. Roxy took down one of our friends she mashed her head on the wall by accident,” Matthews said. “It’s kind of like when you break your toys, and you have nothing to play with.”
Roxanne spent a month-and-a-half training in the garage, while Syndicate doors were closed. Gyms were closed until two weeks ago, as Las Vegas is in phase two with restrictions.
Bellator featherweight Tywan Claxton, teammate Justin Osborn and amateur fighter Kelly Ziemba became Modafferi’s training partners in the garage. The closed space made it easy for someone to bump their head into the wall, but Modafferi said it was quite an amazing experience.
“I was so stressed because the world was panicking, everyone was getting sick. But it turned out to be amazing – a sanctuary where I could work with AJ,” she said. “I could really focus on stuff that he wanted me to improve on because he has a completely different style than my head coach John Wood.”
Modafferi’s fight camp shifted to Syndicate once gyms opened up in Las Vegas. She tried out her new techniques with her normal training partners to see how they work.
The strength and conditioning of Modafferi stood out to Matthews, as she worked more than usual with her physical trainer Lorenzo Pavlica.
“Lorenzo understands how a body should be for an athlete. He got her doing workouts that her body will have more purpose within a fight,” Matthews said. “Lorenzo and I had a conversation the other day. He just said that he’s happy that she heard it from a fighter.”
“I would tell her, ‘put your leg like this so you can do that. And she would say, ‘oh Lorenzo was making me do workouts like that.’”
Matthews has been working with Modafferi for over a year. He said he sees improvement in her striking.
“Roxanne is making better choices in striking and putting things together, that’s just repetition. She started consistently doing Muay Thai private classes,” Matthews said. “She improved on setting traps, making her opponent bite on something and chaining defenses. Roxanne got the strength and conditioning and hits hard. Roxanne owes herself a knockout and wants one.”
Modafferi will face Lauren Murphy in the prelims of Blaydes vs Volkov at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, on Saturday night. The prelims begin at 5 p.m. ET.