Aspen Ladd has enjoyed a quick rise in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and in just her fourth fight with the company, she will headline UFC Fight Night 155 opposite Germaine de Randamie on Saturday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. The 25-year-old MMA Gold Team prospect claims she does not feel any additional pressure and plans to treat it as just another fight.
“It’s just business as usual,” Ladd told Sherdog.com. “It’s something I don’t reflect on. People ask me that for similar things like, ‘Do you reflect on the fact that you’re undefeated?’ It’s not really something I think about too much. It’s just another part of day-to-day life basically. It’s just another fight, and I’m excited about it.”
Ladd’s most recent win -- a unanimous decision over Sijara Eubanks -- was met with some consternation after two judges scored it 30-26 and another saw it 29-28. The California native does not fear much, but the idea of leaving a fight to the scorecards keeps her on her toes.
“I always try to finish a fight to the best of my ability, just because it’s terrifying to go to the judges,” she said. “If you ever have to stand there, even if you’re confident you did enough to win, you can never be sure. I’ve seen some really lopsided, horrible decisions, so it’s terrifying, and you want to finish the fight regardless, because you never know who’s judging your fight.”
Ladd was slated to face Holly Holm at UFC Fight Night 152, but a miscommunication about the contract and Holm being offered a title fight against Amanda Nunes forced her to take a short-notice assignment opposite Eubanks. The change in opponent made no difference to her.
“It’s something you kind of have to be prepared for in this sport because there are so many injuries and so many replacements,” Ladd said. “That one was just a weird situation because we were both scheduled to fight in March and it didn’t happen, so at that point, you have a fighter drop out but you can’t take a break. You have to keep training because you never know if something is coming up. Then within two weeks, they gave me Eubanks on the same date. It’s not necessarily a replacement where I’m freaking out worrying about the next person. Whoever I get, I’m happy for it.”
She now sets her sights on de Randamie, a former featherweight champion who has not fought more than once in a calendar year since 2013. Ladd does not believe being the more active fighter offers much of an edge.
“I certainly try to be active,” Ladd said. “I’ve had a couple of longer layoffs just due to things happening in life, opponents falling out, things like that. Ring rust can be a thing, but I don’t know if I see it as an advantage so much. Every fighter is different. Some do better with longer layoffs; some do better if they fight every weekend. Everyone is an individual here.”
De Randamie will enter the cage with a three-inch height and five-inch reach advantage. However, the size difference does not concern Ladd.
“I’ve fought several very large women,” she said with a chuckle, “so it’s something I’ve dealt with in the past, and it’s a different kind of challenge. It’s a unique fight, but every fight is unique in its own way. It’s kind of similar to the Holly Holm fight in that she’s a world-class striker and they are very long [and] very lanky for the division.”
Though she considers herself a natural bantamweight, Ladd has not closed the door on the idea of someday testing the waters at 145 pounds if the right opportunity presents itself.
“I’m not definitely moving up. I’m a 135er, but if the right fight pops up at 145, I’d be more than willing to take fights there, as well as 135,” she said. “I have no reason not to. I’m not here to stick to one division. I’m here to fight as many times as I can as often as I can and make a name for myself. I’m still young in this sport. Like I said before, I’m not here chasing championships. I just want to fight and make a name for myself and make a living for myself, but I’m enjoying the ride regardless.”
UFC President Dana White has stated openly that he holds Ladd in high regard, and many believe she could secure a title shot with a convincing win over de Randamie.
“I think anything is a possibility, but honestly, it depends on how it goes and how those fighters want to proceed after the fight,” she said. “It’s not really something I reflect on. You could look at it as a top contender fight -- she’s number one right now, and I’m number four [in the rankings] -- but if they were to give me someone else after, then that’s great. It’s not really something I’m concerned about.”
Ladd always had designs on moving toward the championship level but understands the volatile nature of the sport and the matchmaking that accompanies it.
“Well, that’s been my plan the entire time, but it hasn’t exactly worked out,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all good. We’re all here in the UFC. We all want to fight the best in the world [or] at least you should if you make it to the UFC. If you’re asking for what you think is an easy fight, then you’re not doing too hot.”
What should fans expect from her when she stands across the Octagon from de Randamie in a matter of days?
“The same thing I always bring to the table: the most violent [and] most driven-to-finish-a-fight [fighter] you can watch,” Ladd said. “If it doesn’t end with a finish, it’s going to be a barnburner.”