Just In Aspen Ladd says blast from her corner powered her to victory at UFC DC: ‘My coach lit me up’ MMA Life

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WASHINGTON – Aspen Ladd knew things were pretty close when she returned to her corner at the end of the second round of her fight with Yana Kunitskaya at UFC on ESPN 7.

But if there was any doubt over what she had to do next, her coaches made absolutely clear with a blistering pep talk.

The strong words in the corner clearly had the desired effect. Ladd (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) stormed out for the final round and picked up a TKO finish just 33 seconds after the restart.

“My coach lit me up,” Ladd said after the fight at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. “It was the third round of a very close fight. He’s like, ‘You’d better (expletive) finish.’ Come out hot, basically. Come out and put my foot on the gas. And I listened.

“It was a close fight and she’s a very tough opponent. I was doing all I felt I could at the time. But I could do a lot better. (I) decided to shake it out and listen, and when I did things went very well.”

Ladd has been considered one of the most talented prospects in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division for the last couple of years. But just as she looked to be breaking into true contender status, she had a rough weight cut and was finished in just 16 seconds by Germaine de Randamie in July.

The defeat, Ladd’s first as a professional, raised question marks about her future as a bantamweight. She faced a barrage of questions about her weight and well-being at 135 pounds ahead of her fight with Kunitskaya (12-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC).

But Ladd made weight successfully without the drama of six months ago, and produced a superb third-round performance to stop the Russian contender and position herself among the division’s best.

Despite coming in off a loss, Ladd said she never felt a lack of confidence heading into the match.

“It’s not a lack of confidence in yourself – at least, that’s not what I felt,” she said. “It’s a disappointment. You learn a lot from it. But it’s still what I do, and it’s what I do at a high level. I know I’m good and capable of doing this. So it’s not really a confidence thing as much as it feels like ‘I’m home’ thing.”

Now back in the win column, and with her weight-cutting worries seemingly behind her, the future looks exciting for Ladd. But she knows that if she isn’t quite fulfilling her potential inside the cage, she will have her coaches to call on for a kick up the backside when she needs it.

“If I was a little bit slow, as I was, and it’s going into the third round of a close fight, you’ll probably hear that every single time,” she said. “I’ve been chewed out pretty good before. That one wasn’t … I mean, it was decent.”

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