Friday, June 07, 2019

Nina Ansaroff dropped two tough decisions in her first pair of UFC fights, but now the strawweight title contender heads into UFC 238 on a four-fight win streak and appears to be just one more victory away from a shot at gold. I caught up with the American Top Team member Thursday in Chicago and she explained some of what went into her turnaround.

“At first it was a struggle for me to make strawweight, and that showed a bit in my performances,” she admitted. “Then, I started to make the adjustments I needed to and the cut became manageable. I also adjusted the way I fought to focus on making sure I just won the fights, and not so much on making sure I was exciting. I just needed to get wins to get to this point. In the UFC, you’re always one win away from falling to the bottom of the ranks or one fight away from getting a title shot. So, I got those wins to put myself in this place and now I feel like I can go back to my old self.”=

Ansaroff takes on the undefeated Tatiana Suarez (7-0) Saturday in a pick-em bout. Both women are riding high leading up to the event, but one will likely have to reset a bit afterwards.

That’s the way sports go, of course. Fighting in the big leagues is particularly cruel and capricious.

Ansaroff explains how she can stay focused and balanced as a UFC fighter despite the utter lack of job or ranking security in the unpredictable top promotion.

“For me, it might be different than for other people because there are things I want to do after fighting,” she explained. “I’m not one of those people anymore who is only defined by my fights. Of course, I want to win, no one wants to lose, and I’m going for the championship. But, I know that one way or another my life will go on, afterward, and there are things I want to do with my life when I’m done fighting that I’m looking forward to.”

Ansaroff and her partner, bantamweight and featherweight world champion Amanda Nunes, have a near-future goal, for example, that they’d like to finally get to.

“Amanda and I keep putting off our wedding because one of us always has a fight. So, that will be nice to do,” she said. “One day I want to start a family. I want to travel. We have an RV that we want to hit the road with and explore.”

For now, however, Ansaroff is ready to continue pushing her career forward and with the expectation that if she keeps doing what she has been, her chance at becoming a champion is just around the corner.

“This is definitely a number one title contender’s fight,” she concluded. “Of course, the UFC isn’t going to say that in advance but we’re looking at it that way.”

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Elias Cepeda writes a regular column for The UG Feed; you can find Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda.

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