LAFAYETTE PARISH, La. (KLFY) — Names like Dustin Poirier, Daniel Cormier, AJ Fletcher and Aaron Phillips are all notable names from Lafayette when you think of The Ultimate Fighting Championship, also known as the UFC. You can now add Carli Judice to the mix, now being the first female fighter out of Lafayette to make it to the big leagues.
The UFC is what many people recognize as the highest level of mixed martial arts, and Lafayette is known as a hub for top professional MMA fighters from Louisiana.
“I love to scrap,” Judice said. “I love when stuff gets bloody. I love when stuff gets gritty, and you have to dig deep.”
Judice began her amateur fighting career in February 2021 after just a year of training. Four fights later, she went pro in 2022. Three fights into her pro career and all first-round finishes, Judice got the opportunity for a short notice fight on Dana White’s Contender Series for the chance at a UFC contract.
“I was like ‘Is this a prank call? What’s going on?'” Judice said.
Her opponent was Ernesta Kareckaite from Lithuania. The three round bout was highly anticipated as both fighters were undefeated at the time. The fight was a war as it came down to the judges’ score cards. Judice came up short in a split decision loss but still managed to impress Dana White and get the contract she hoped for.
“I kinda just started crying you know and everyone else was jumping up screaming,” Judice said.
In Dana White’s Contender Series, it does not matter if you win the fight; It matters if you were impressive. Judice did enough to show what she was capable of but believes she could have done better.
“I did not feel like I did good, but he [Dana White] saw,” she said. “Hopefully next time I can really bring what I have.”
Being the first female fighter out of Lafayette to make it to the UFC, Judice is glad to be a roll model for others like her.
“As long as you put in the work, no matter who you have around you, you can do whatever you want,” Judice said.
Judice said her debut fight will likely be in early 2024, and she is ready to show the world exactly what she is capable of.