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November 2, 2023



 Bangor, Maine (October 22, 2023)

The opposite of a snowbird who flees the north for warmer climes in late autumn, Shawna Lee Ormsby is as eager to leave Orlando, Florida, for an early November vacation in Bangor, Maine, as she is to fight hometown hero Glory Watson in a mixed martial arts crossroads bout.

“This is one of the places and states that I’ve been eager to visit, so the fact that I get to compete there is just even cooler,” Ormsby said. “I appreciate untouched nature, and I’ve just heard such beautiful things about the place. I’m originally from Buffalo, so being upstate and cold, I’m used to that. I’ve always heard that it’s beautiful up there, and I appreciate that kind of stuff.”

Her love for animals and their natural habitat notwithstanding, the 31-year-old Ormsby (2-4) also is more serious about her combat sports career than ever. Taking the call from New England Fights (NEF) to be part of a main event was a no-brainer even if they told her the fight was in an Iowa cornfield or Wyoming rodeo barn.

A journeywoman with experience in boxing, jiu-jitsu, MMA and even a growing wrestling acumen, Ormsby aims for her first win in nearly four years of alternating action in the ring and the cage when she takes on Watson (5-1) in a strawweight scrap to close out “NEF 55: Glory Days.”

The card is set for Saturday, November 11 with a bell time of 7 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

“I know her team has said they’ve been watching me for a while, and I’ve seen where she’s been competing for about five years,” Ormsby said. “I’ve been doing this since 2013, so I have seen her come and riseup a little bit. I’m excited for it.”

As a native of the last state to legalize MMA and current resident of one with a relatively shallow women’s talent pool, Ormsby is accustomed to a “have gloves, will travel” existence.

Whether surrounded by ropes or a cage, her past six fights have taken place in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and California.

“I’ve always been the person to compete in other people’s hometowns, so it’s nothing new to me. I’ve gone to places where the town loves me and places where I’ve been booed. I’m completely used to it. I haven’t been able to fight in my own state very often,” Ormsby said. “It just pushes me more and more to know I have to finish my fights. When I go to their hometown, you can’t always persuade (the judges), so I’ve got to make sure I do what I’ve gotta do. In the beginning it was tough. I feel like there are fights that probably should have gone my way. But I’ve become this people’s champ kinda thing, and I kinda dig it.”

Though she has led somewhat of a nomadic existence both in terms of her travel itinerary and in her choice of competitive environments, Ormsby sees that as an advantage in the ultimate discipline that combines them all.

“I feel like mixed martial arts should be a well-rounded fighter when you’re in the cage. Of course, everybody has their strong suits, but with me I feel like I got to dabble in everything,” Ormsby said. “My last two boxing fights after a 2½-year layoff, I feel like that was me just finding my hands a little bit more. I feel like every martial art has its own strength within itself, and then when you can put it together is when you can have that complete confidence when you’re in the cage.”

Ormsby made a recent switch in her gym affiliation after nine years, moving to Darkwolf MMA in January.

Her performance in a pair of boxing bouts this summer, both unanimous decision losses, convinced her that she was ready to take the MMA walk against an opponent of Watson’s caliber.

“I’ve taken on the toughest of the toughest. I’ve never said no to a fight. I started in 2013, so there weren’t a whole lot of girls fighting, and I was still fresh to this. I was learning as I was fighting, so I feel like the competition I’ve had has made me strong,” Ormsby said. “I feel that a lot of the losses that I’ve had were not really losses. I’ve always been told that I was their toughest fight, and I know Glory is saying that as well. I just feel that mentally I’m at a different level than I’ve been in the past and that this is my time.

Ormsby’s story parallels Watson’s in many ways, and one of those is a comfort level with letting her coaches worry about the scouting and the game plan.

Still, “Bam Bam” has heard and seen enough from “The Fury” to fully understand the challenge.

“I know she likes to be on top of people. She’s a heavy ground-and-pounder, and if you look at my fights before, I would get stuck on the bottom, so I’m expecting her to try to take me down,” Ormsby said. “I know my striking is my strong suit. I’ve got kickboxing titles. I’m gonna use my hands, try to keep it standing as long as I possibly can, and when it gets to the ground, try to incorporate all that wrestling that I’ve been putting to work. We’ve seen she does try to change from fight to fight a little bit. She tries to make some adjustments. Whichever way they decide to go this fight, we’ll be prepared.”

Frequent flier miles are nothing new to any woman hoping to make inroads in MMA, given the overall shortage of serious competitors compared to the men’s side.

Ormsby was getting phone calls for potential fights even during COVID and its aftermath, when she was in the middle of her hiatus, so she believes the tide is turning.

“I definitely feel that shows huge strides for women’s MMA,” she said. “Especially at a smaller weight class, it just feels like there’s more girls wanting to get in the gym and train and put that to the test.”

Watson and local fans who have taken more than a cursory glance at Ormsby’s social media footprint have gotten to know a unique member of her entourage.

She is the proud, adoptive mother of a pet squirrel.

“He’s one of my little COVID babies. My mom found him. He was probably two weeks old. She was outside. He was at the bottom of a tree, and she waited to see if the mom came back,” Ormsby recalled. “The mom never came back, and he looked very sick. Before I started training MMA, I used to work at a bird sanctuary, and in general animals were my whole upbringing. I wanted to be a veterinarian.

“So she called me and said, ‘I have this squirrel,” and said, ‘Oh my gosh, let’s figure this out.’ During COVID we were working with kids, teaching homeschool while I was taking care of this squirrel, figuring out how to keep him alive. After about six months of him growing up with me and the kids, I couldn’t release him. He’s like our little mascot.”

How did a 5-foot-1, 115-pound lady with such a gentle spirit and a soft spot for kids and critters gravitate to the blood, sweat and tears of MMA?

It was far from her radar a decade ago, even though one of her closest confidants was heavily involved in the sport.

“When I was about 21 years old was when I started. I had a friend that did MMA. I kind of reconnected with him after high school,” Ormsby said. “He showed me what jiu-jitsu was, and that was the same time when Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate came on TV, which I know inspired a ton of girls. I’m one of those stories too.”

Learning the story behind the women trying to strike each other senseless or choke one another into submission showed her a side she never imagined.

“I didn’t realize girls fought like that. I saw MMA on TV and thought it was the most stupid thing. ‘Why are these people beating each other up like this?’ It didn’t make sense to me,” Ormsby said. “But then when I saw the show and the hard work and dedication that was out behind this and the level of respect, that’s what drew me to this.I had just gone through a breakup, and I wanted to find something for myself.I found a gym, trained there for a few months and wanted more. I was driving an hour every day to get to the gym for a long time.”

Darkwolf, run by the Lohsen family team of husband David, wife Melissa and son Christian, is where she calls home today.

“I’ve known them seven years,” Ormsby said. “They’ve watched me climb. Without them I probably wouldn’t have gotten back into MMA.”

That investment of time and distance is always a risk, and the long trek to Maine is no different.

Watson takes pride in her fan base never booing or explicitly rooting against the opponent, and Ormsby admittedly wishes that will remain the case.

“I hope they appreciate me coming up there and putting on a good show,” Ormsby said. “Glory seems like a really nice person, and I’ve always been one where it’s business in the cage, but outside it’s all love. I respect anybody putting their heart and soul into that place.

“But I’m here to get on a winning streak. I’ve changed my camp. I’ve changed my mentality. They definitely can expect fireworks. I look small, but I’m strong. I’m fast. I’ve put in a lot of work to be here, and I’m ready to rebuild my record, because it doesn’t show what I’m capable of.”

“NEF 55: Glory Days” is set for a bell time of 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 11 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Tickets are on sale now at, or at the Maine Credit Unions box office inside Cross Insurance Center.