Jessica-Rose Clark is beginning to conquer the most challenging foe of her UFC career, anxiety.
Clark, 32, caught up with Fightful ahead of her fight against Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11. Jessy Jess (9-6) spoke candidly on a life-changing conversation she had with her coach following her last fight.
"I was a ball of anxiety and a nervous wreck. I kept trying to physically outwork how terrible I was feeling and how scared I was," Clark shared. "Coach Kirian [Fitzgibbons] sat me down and made me promise him that I would start being more open about how I was feeling, even if it was hard. Because it's hard for me to talk about it. No one wants to feel vulnerable. He made me promise to start being open about it even if I'm scared to be honest about it. I started doing that with him and started seeing a therapist. The combination of those two. My therapist is f--king amazing. She has changed my life, for real. Having her and having a coach that I really trust, who I know has my best interest in heart, and who I can talk to about anything, absolutely anything that's weighing heavy on me, that's freeing."
"Even a couple of weeks ago, I had a weird conversation with someone in the morning and it just f--ked me up," she continued. "It just put me in a really weird mood. I went to the gym and I said, 'Coach, I need to talk to you for five minutes or I'm going to have a really bad sparring session.' He said, 'Cool' and we talked and I ended up having a great day. Just recognizing that I don't need to be tough and keep everything inside and fix all my problems myself. That it's okay to talk to people and rely on people sometimes. That has been more powerful for me than anything else. I know if I can keep acknowledging my issues and keep talking when I'm scared and about things that bring my anxiety, that I can conquer all of it."
It’s taken a long long time, but one of my biggest take always from the last year, is I finally like who’s looking back at me in the mirror. From struggling with my weight for a long time, to finally being able to relax and enjoy life. But it’s not just the physical. This last year has been a year of self development. Mentally, emotionally, technically. I feel like I started another phase of my life and I’m happy with the person I’ve become and the person I’m evolving into #LilThiccc #EatBurgersLiftHeavyGetThiccc
Clark also touched on her full-time move from flyweight to bantamweight.
"My coach told me he wasn't going to let me fight unless I'm fighting at bantamweight. If I want to stay with my coach and at my gym, bantamweight it is," she revealed. "He saw how much damage I was doing to my body trying to cut to that weight. He said I was diminishing the power I had. He said I was taking too much away from my athleticism... He's not just telling me what I want to hear, he's telling me all the s--t that I don't want to hear because it's real."
Fortunately, a heavier weight class means more stress-free patties for the burger fanatic.
"A traditional Aussie burger, which is what I love, has a big fat meat patty, fresh tomato, some onion — I'm not a fan of onion but I'll eat it on a burger — tin canned sliced tomato, tin canned beetroot, bacon and a fried egg, maybe some avocado depending on what your tastes are. I like avocado," Clark explained. "And then some mayonnaise on top. It's f--king incredible."
UFC Vegas 11 takes place on Saturday, September 19 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada with Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.