How have you been and what's new since we last interviewed you?
-I certainly can’t complain. I’ve been living my dream to the fullest capacity since my last interview with you! My days are filled with training, teaching, and travelling to new places and new gyms getting incredible experiences that are helping me grow as an MMA fighter.
Tell us about your upcoming fight, who you are fighting and where?
-I’ll be fighting on Invicta FC 5, April 5th, at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, MO. My opponent is Miriam Nakamoto who is 1-0 in MMA but is an extremely seasoned and dangerous Muay Thai fighter. I said it when my fight was announced and will say it again, but I don’t think the judges are going to be needed in this fight. We are both aggressively styled fighters who love finishing fights.
All the female fighters under the Invicta FC banner rave about it. How has your experience with Invicta been so far?
-Well, I can tell you that they are definitely worthy of all the praise. Not only have they provided an incredible platform for females MMA fighters to compete on and showcase their skills, they’ve truly made it possible for fighters like myself to treat this as a full time job and focus on fighting as a career. When you do that, the standard of training and expectations rise across the board and that is why Invicta has been so successful at developing the women’s divisions and the skill level of female fighters overall.
How was this training camp and did you get to train with anyone special?
-Since signing my contract to fight at IFC 5 I’ve travelled to Minnesota to train with Kaitlin Young, and just recently got back from L.A. to train at Glendale Fighting Club with Ronda Rousey and her team, as well as Eddie Bravo who’s currently teaching out of Tapout Gym. As far as the training out of my home base at the AFS Academy, it couldn’t have been going better. My team is super pumped about my fight as usual and the energy in training is second to none. Even since my last fight at IFC 3 I’ve made HUGE improvements to all aspects of my game!
How did you get your fight nickname “The Gun”?
-In our gym it’s tradition that our coach gives the fighters their nicknames. I ended up with the gun because of my last name. So, everyone knows that John Wayne is known as the Duke. But a lot of people don’t know that the boxer Tommy Morrison is the nephew of John Wayne. In Rocky IV he played Tommy “The Machine” Gunn. So, my coach felt that since my last name was Duke that it was appropriate that my nickname be “The Gun” because of this connection. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but honestly it’s really grown on me. I feel like I’ve kind of embodied it a bit.
Do you have any fight day rituals or superstitions?
-I’m not very superstitious. I prefer to think that I’m the one in control of my fate rather than having it depend on certain things happening. Because anyone that fights will tell you those things very rarely go as smoothly as you hope. It’s important not to over complicate fight day. You are simply there to do what you’ve trained for. The environment changes, but the job doesn’t.
Any predictions on how you see your upcoming fight unfolding?
-One of the things that makes MMA so exciting is the fact that you just never know what’s going to happen once the fight actually starts. Game plans are great, and I certainly have one, but truthfully, it’s really hard to say just how things will unfold. However, I’ll say this; I plan on serving Miriam her first professional loss and walking out of the Invicta FC cage as 3-0.
If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be and why?
-No one in particular. My goals in this sport are to one day be considered the very best on the planet. So, my dream fight would be the one that solidifies me as just that. Whoever, and whenever that may be.
What is your greatest achievement or proudest moment in your fighting career so far?
-Successfully making my pro debut at Invicta FC 2. Not only was I fortunate enough to debut with such an amazing organization, I had an exciting fight against a very tough opponent and came out victorious with a finish.
With the recent big announcement from UFC that TUF 18 will feature ladies bantamweights, will you be trying out?
-Right now, my focus is entirely on IFC 5 and what I need to do on April 5th. Just like every fighter that is eligible for tryouts, it’s definitely on my mind, but I’m not committing to any decisions about it until after my fight.
Any shout outs you would like to make?
-My coach, Scott Elliott, and all of my friends and teammates at the AFS Academy for helping me become the fighter I am today! My family for their support and devotion to helping me become the best fighter in the world. My manager Brett Atchley of ASMM and of course all my amazing sponsors who help make it possible for me to make this a full time job: Polanti Watches, VII AD, Babes of MMA, Outlaw Fight Gear, KLENCH Mouthguards, Horse Power Strength & Conditioning, Intimidation, Dr. Taverni, Hype X-treme, Combatives Gear, Fight Soap, and SWOLE Nutrition!
Thank you very much for your time, proud to be a sponsor and good luck on fight night Jessamyn! For the latest on Jessamyn Duke stop by her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.