Ashley Yoder will get her rematch against Angela Hill on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 187, but the second tussle between the two was already supposed to have happened.
On Feb. 26, one day after Yoder (8-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Hill (12-9 MMA, 7-9 UFC) stepped on the scale for UFC Fight Night 186, their fight was called off due to COVID-19 protocols. While the UFC didn’t specify which corner encountered issues, a source told MMA Junkie it was a member of Yoder’s camp.
In an interview with MMA Junkie this week, Yoder confirmed one of her corners had a positive COVID-19 test and detailed what transpired when the fight was postponed hours prior to the event start time.
“It was kind of funny because we were at weigh-ins and I was actually talking about the Chas Skelly situation where he was in the octagon the week prior,” Yoder told MMA Junkie. “I was like, ‘You know, it’s crazy. If I weigh-in, I’m going to fight someone.’ Then, of course, I jinxed myself. But the third COVID test that we had taken, we got the results back the day of the fight. My hair was braided. I was getting drug-tested by USADA as I got the phone call.”
Unexpected phone calls from the UFC during fight week often mean something bad. Yoder had a hunch that was the case, and she was correct. One of her corners had tested positive. She wouldn’t have to wait long for a rebooking, however. UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard already was on the other line waiting to offer her the March 13 date.
As for her cornerman, Yoder said the positive COVID-19 test turned out to be a false positive. He’s tested negative twice since and was never symptomatic.
So for the second time in four weeks, Yoder accepted a short-notice fight, the originally scheduled rematch both Yoder and Hill accepted on seven days’ notice. For the rebooked rematch, they would have 14 days to prepare.
“People keep talking about a fight camp,” Yoder said. “I’m like, ‘You guys are confused. I think you guys don’t know what a fight camp is because a fight camp is usually six to eight weeks.’ It is nice to have a quick turnaround, though. You can already have your mindset. Your body was in motion. I know that for Angela and myself, we’re training all the time so we’re always ready to fight.”
Short-notice fight preparation can be hectic, explained Yoder. However, the fact that the fight against Hill is a rematch makes her more comfortable with the situation. The two squared off four years ago at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and Hill earned a unanimous decision.
“As much as it’s been four years and we’ve both grown a lot, we kind of know each others’ styles, and you’re just building on confidence at that point,” Yoder said. “You’re getting in the right mentality to actually get in the octagon and compete. It’s just a very dialed-in-type couple weeks. It’s not enough of a camp to change anything stylistically, right? I feel confident going into this fight with what I’ve already grown on in the last four years.”
Yoder, 33, expects a different result this time out. Regardless of the way it plays out, she thinks fans can expect to see fireworks when she fights Hill.
“I never like to put myself in a position where I say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going to happen in the fight. This is what’s not going to happen in the fight,’” Yoder said. “I just know when we step in the cage, we both bring a fight. It’s going to be a fun fight for sure.”