By Andy Cotterill
Careers are often gauged by milestones, and for fighters, one of those milestones comes in the form of championship opportunities.
Although Niagara Top Team’s Ashley “AK-47” Nichols has a handful of muay Thai world championships to her credit, on Friday night she’ll get the chance to claim her first ever belt in mixed martial arts when she takes on Brazil’s Jaqueline Amorim in the main event of LFA 142 in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
Gone are the days in MMA where a fight could be described simply as striker versus grappler like this one may have been, with Nichols being a world champion striker and her opponent Amorim being a world champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
In order to find high level success a fighter needs to be well versed in all aspects of the fight game.
“It’s not just math.” Nichols told MM-eh.
“It’s not just a simple thing,” She continued, “or this girl knows how to grapple and this girl knows how to strike so that’s exactly how the fight is gonna go.”
She’s absolutely right, MMA is not math despite some people trying to forecast a fight in that way.
There are levels, and there is nuance, and after the bell it’s the fighter who has forced their opponent out of their comfort zone the most who more often than not has their arm raised in victory.
Both Nichols and Amorim know what they want to try to do each other, and they both know what the other wants to do to them. It’s not a big secret.
Nichols says that she’s prepared for anything that Amorim can bring.
“She might try to strike with me, and I know she’s going to try to pressure forward and take me down.”
While this intent may have fazed Nichols somewhat earlier in her career, now, after having been with Niagara Top Team for over a year, she is unperturbed.
“We’ve worked on the game plan to shut that down to defend and to stay where I’m strongest, which is, of course, striking. I’m training wrestling defense with the best team in the world right now.”
Nichols added that as part of that plan she knows that she’ll need to stay mobile once the fight starts.
“One thing with wrestlers and grapplers if you stay still they can really close the distance and set up their takedowns, so I’ve really been working on using my footwork in order to not stay still, and to strike while moving.”
She added that in the past year her Fight IQ has grown exponentially, and that she has evolved a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of the art of fighting.
“I gotten a better understanding on how you need to think through setting up strikes.” She said, before elaborating.
“You can’t just throw a combo, but you also have to know how those things are going be countered with who you’re fighting. That’s what’s really helped me over the past year, I’ve definitely had a lot of insight.”
Ashley Nichols will be cornered by Chris Prickett and Matt DiMarcantonio.
Ashley Nichols is sponsored by:
Thunderbird Trust Chippewas of the Thames
Smokers Paradise and Gift Shop
JB Chippewas of the Thames