Megan Anderson knows that she's in a unique situation.
At 6-feet-tall and covered in tattoos, the Australian fighter is the equivalent of a unicorn in the women's featherweight division — she hopes to use that to her advantage when she faces Cat Zingano at UFC® 232 on December 29.
“I think Cat hasn’t fought anyone like me before," Anderson said. "Someone who is 6-foot tall and who has a long reach and is strong and powerful at the weight class... and in my defense, I haven’t fought anyone as unorthodox as Cat is. She is very good at what she does, but I’m also very good at what I do, so I think it’s going to make for an exciting fight.”
Anderson currently sits at 8-3 with one fight in the UFC under her belt — a unanimous decision loss to former women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm at UFC 225.
Not many fighters receive a bout with a former champion in their first fight in a new promotion, but, once again, Anderson is one of a kind.
Starting her mixed martial arts career at 23 years old, Anderson quickly rose up the ranks in Australia and scored a contract with Invicta Fighting Championships, an all-women MMA promotion. Within five fights, Anderson worked her way up to become Invicta's featherweight champion, gaining the eyes of the UFC in the process.
But following the Holm loss, Anderson is anxious to get back on the horse against Zingano at UFC 232 and look ahead to 2019. As for next year, she has some ambitious, but driven, goals and expectations.
“I’m hoping to fight two or three times," Anderson said. "I would definitely love to fight in Australia. I haven’t fought back home in four years, so that would be great. I definitely would like a title shot in 2019. I’m hoping things go well on December 29.”
And if things do go well, you can expect Anderson to get on the mic and demand a shot at gold once the calendar changes over.
“Who else is there? Unfortunately, I did have to pull out of the fight with Cris (Cyborg) the first time (in 2017), but it wasn’t because I was scared or anything. It was for reasons outside of my control. We always wanted to have that fight back. They came to us with a different opponent and a different opponent again now, so I’m hoping we get out hand raised and it’s something we’ll be interested in next year.”
How has your fight camp been for UFC 232?
“Fight camp has been good, but it’s been long. We found out (about Cat) about 11 weeks out from the fight, so it’s been a long fight camp. I’m feeling amazing, so we’re on track.”
How has this camp compared to the one you had for the Holly Holm fight?
“Between the two they’ve been a bit different. For the Holly fight I was coming off of a long layoff, whereas for this fight I just fought so I’m able to be more active. I guess they’re a little different but we’re just building on momentum from the last fight and are ready to put on a show.”
What were the takeaways from the last fight?
“Fighting someone of Holly’s caliber was phenomenal experience and experience that normally someone doesn’t get in their first UFC fight, so that was big. And there’s always small takeaways in things we can do as far as our performance overall that we can work on.”
How was your transition from Invicta to the UFC?
“I feel like Invicta does a great job of helping their athletes get used to the media days and fighting in a bigger organization than just the regional scene. Doing interviews and things like that. So it wasn’t too much of a big step, it’s just a lot more people in the arena. But I think Invicta does a really good job of helping build their athletes in that aspect.”
You’ve done some reporting work for Invicta. What’s the difference between preparing for a fight and preparing for a reporting role?
“They’re so different, but what helps me is that I’ve been in the shoes of every single one of those women in Invicta. I’ve had my debut fight, I’ve been a contender, come up the ranks and became the champion, so I feel like I’ve been in every aspect of Invicta. I can relate to them well. I’m really excited.”
How are the nerves different when working as a reporter as opposed to fighting?
“It is very different. Like I don’t get too nervous to step into the cage and fight because that’s what I do for my job. It is a little different because I really want to do a good job for the team at UFC Fight Pass and everyone. And down the line, I would maybe be interested in doing commentary and analyst work. It’s a great platform for me to get experience. I just don’t want to ask the wrong questions.”
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What a phenomenal experience last night at @invictafc 33 filling in for the lovely @laura_sanko. Having been in the position of all these badass women, it was surreal to be able to experience this moment with them. - This sport can be a rollercoaster and to be able to share this special moment with them all is so special to me. Looking forward to the next opportunity! - Thank you @shanknapp for giving me this opportunity and for believing in me 🙏🏻 Thank you @tjdesantis and @julesk_fighter for being so fun and for welcoming me into the team! And to the production crew; Corey, Matt, Todd, you guys are seriously the best!!
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What were your thoughts on UFC231?
“Oh my god. That was a phenomenal card top to bottom. Jessica Eye really solidified her position at the top of the flyweight division. Nina Ansaroff looked great with a great win for her. She catapulted herself into title contention… Valentina (Shevchenko) finally getting it done. And she is so deserving of that. She’s one of the best and has been for a long time. A lot of people thought she won against (Amanda) Nunes. And Max (Holloway), oh my god. He’s breaking records left, right and center. He looked phenomenal and didn’t miss a beat and performed better than I’ve ever seen him before. And Brian Ortega is one tough dude. You need a willing dance partner to put on a performance like that, and Ortega did not back down.”
Did you campaign to get on the UFC 234 card in Melbourne, Australia?
“I actually wanted to be on the Adelaide card because they hadn’t announced that they were doing the Melbourne card yet. So I was trying to get on that card at the start of the month, but they didn’t find a suitable opponent. Once they did, they picked the 232 card. I think Melbourne in February 10 in Australia (February 9 in America) and my birthday is February 11. I’d love to be there, even if it’s a short turn around, as like a guest fighter. I’d love to be there and be able to see my family. I’m a huge Robert Whittaker fan, so I’d love to see that. And I’m so excited for the Israel Adesanya fight -- that has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it.”
How important is it for fellow Australian fighters to support one another?
“It’s such a weird thing. Australia is so isolated from MMA. If you look at the American MMA scene, they don’t back each other just because they’re American like we do in Australia. From where I’m coming from, I’m always going to support the Australian. If one of them was fighting Georges St. Pierre... and let's be honest GSP is one of the finest mixed martial artists in the world... I’m still going to go for my fellow Australian. It’s that comradery. There’s a few of us, so we have to support the ones that are on that big stage.”
What do you think about a fighter building their own brand in the women’s featherweight division?
“This is the entertainment business and you have to build your brand. You are your brand. You have to make it so that people want to watch you fight and are interested in what you do. I feel like some women in the featherweight division feel it’s the organization's responsibility to build them. Why would the organization want to build fighters who doesn’t want to build themselves? You have people who do play the game and know it’s entertainment, and then you have those who say they don’t want to stoop to that level. For those people, well you’re going to be left behind.”
How do you separate ‘playing the game’ and still being yourself and authentic?
“If people ask me for help on stuff like that, I ask about what makes them different. You find that one thing about you and capitalize on it. If you’re a video game nerd and play games all the times, then that’s a huge market. Twitch streamers and the gaming community has a phenomenal amount of people invested in it. Tap into that. If you’re a former football player, tap into that. You need to find what makes you stand out and use that. For me, being Australian and being covered in tattoos kind of helps, too. Who are the people that I want to follow? They’re realistic. I don’t really follow any people who think they are better than everybody else. I like real people that I can relate to. So I try to make myself relatable to the everyday person. If I wasn't fighting, I would be the same person. I have the same problems and stresses — I have an eight-month-old dog that wants to chew the downpipe in my house. I have the same issues as everyone else. Everyone is equal.”
What is your prediction for Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes at UFC 232?
“I am very interested in that fight. Stylistically, they’re both very similar and pressure fighters. They’ve both got good boxing and movement. I think of all of Cyborg’s recent opponents, I think Amanda has the best chance to force the upset. But I’m still going to go with Cris because I think she’s going to pressure Amanda early and Amanda has in the past struggled with being pressured. I’m intrigued to see how they both adapt to being pressure fighters.”
See Megan Anderson at UFC 232
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