Hashtag Files: How Roxanne Modafferi makes social media pay off in almond butter and gift cards
If you’re going to be a professional MMA fighter these days, you’ve got to stake out your territory on social media. The bizarre online world is where fighters interact with fans, attempt to arrange future fights, and sometimes just fall down strange rabbit holes.
But what can we learn about people by wasting our time scouring their social media for clues as to their true selves? That, friends, is a pointless and utterly unserious job for the The Blue Corner.
These are the Hashtag Files.
Roxanne Modafferi, UFC flyweight
When it comes to social media use, there are a few different fighter archetypes.
There are those who only post about their training, even if it never seems to change. There are others who mostly just post about their various hobbies (video games, fishing, dumb conspiracy theories, etc.), with MMA itself left as an afterthought.
There are fighters who pretty much only use Twitter to retweet compliments and highlights, as if the only things they have to say for themselves are the things others have said about them. There are some who can’t stop bickering with fans and fellow fighters. There are a few who clearly outsource the whole thing to someone else. There are even more who would be better off doing that, since they do themselves no favors.
And then there’s Roxanne Modafferi. She’s unique, something of a hybrid in her social media approach.
Will she retweet a story you write about her for your MMA website? Absolutely. Will she also post a link to an interview with her upcoming opponent at UFC on ESPN+ 7 in St. Petersburg – and not with any ill intent, but just to help people learn about who she’s fighting? Definitely.
She’ll also, of course, tweet out links to stories she’s written herself, such as this genuinely fascinating training diary where we learn that she wakes up every morning at around 4 a.m. and then spends roughly 90 minutes cooking and eating an elaborate “four-course breakfast” before (and this might be the most insane part) going back to bed for a “post-breakfast nap.” The concept alone is nearly as wild as the very phrase “avocado frozen dessert.”
Modafferi’s social media world is clearly a reflection of her actual life. That means, yes, there’s a lot of gym time here. Whether it’s failed attempts at recording sparring footage or repeated posts about the kids’ class she teaches and very obviously loves (despite doing it at the end of some very long and physically grueling days), she’s going to let you know what went on at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas each day.
She’s also going to give you periodic peeks at the adorable friendship she shares with roommate and training partner Serena DeJesus, who is hopefully used to the sounds of someone cooking breakfast at 4 a.m. by now.
A picture also emerges of Modafferi as a fighter who is very connected with her fans. Social media is clearly a big part of that for her, and has been every since she was writing blog entries on MySpace.
It’s a relationship that pays off. You can tell Modafferi’s fans really care about her, so much so that they buy her things off her Amazon wishlist. And that wishlist? It is definitely a reflection of a person who does very little aside from train, eat, recover, drink tea, and watch movies.
At 36, Modafferi knows who she is. She’s the kind of nerd who loves comic books and anime and Star Trek and policing other people’s grammar. She lives an incredibly disciplined and regimented life, which is probably necessary just to stay relevant in this sport for as long as she has.
When you look at the total effect, the value of social media for a fighter like Modafferi is pretty evident: It allows her to let us all in on the journey, and in so doing to make us a part of it.
She’s not a freak athlete who is so physically gifted that we can’t ever truly relate to her. She’s not some aloof superstar who will never even see whatever tweets you tag her in. Here is a working fighter just trying to get by. She comes across as a regular person who works extremely hard at honing her craft and wants you to know it. The journey itself is kind of the point.
Even better, she’s willing and able to let people in on what it all really looks like, from the ice baths to the reluctant hot yoga to the 4 a.m. salads. If you’re following Modafferi, you know what she’s put herself through and what she’s denied herself just to get to fight night. Maybe you’ve even bought her some almond butter or protein powder to keep her going.
And after all that, how could you not feel invested in her success? How could you not feel at least a little inspired by someone who’s been this committed for this long to a sport known for giving so little back to even its most dedicated athletes?
The struggle is real, as Modafferi’s social media life reminds us. It’s also somehow joyful and positive and ongoing – and it’s all laid out for you to see.
The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.