SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 13: Aspen Ladd prepares to fight Germaine de Randamie of the … [+]
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Things could not have gone worse for Aspen Ladd in July.
The 24-year-old fighter has been touted as a possible future women’s bantamweight champion. Heading into her UFC Fight Night 155 main event bout against former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Germaine de Randamie, Ladd was 8-0 as a pro and coming off wins over Sijara Eubanks and ex-Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder Tonya Evinger. Ladd, who won fight-night bonus awards in those two victories, was ranked No. 4 in the women’s 135-pound division and the -135 favorite. De Randamie, who was ranked No. 1 in the women’s bantamweight weight class, was the +105 underdog.
Ladd’s issues started on weigh-in day. Ladd visibly shook and grimaced when she stepped on the scale on the day of the fight. Her performance at the weigh-in was worrying. Things did not improve on fight night. Ladd gained 18 percent of her weight (24-pounds) back before the event, which resulted in the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) handing down a suspension. That suspension stated that without “extensive medical documentation,” Ladd could not compete at 135 pounds.
As bad as things were before the fight, the bout went even worse for Ladd. De Randamie knocked her out in 16 seconds.
As a result of the loss, Ladd dropped to No. 5 in the rankings.
On Saturday, Ladd faces Yana Kunitskaya. Kunitskaya, the ex-Invicta bantamweight champion, is 2-0 in the UFC in the women’s bantamweight division. She made her debut with the promotion in 2018 when then women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg knocked her out in the first round. The 30-year-old Kunitskaya is ranked No. 7 in the women’s 135-pound weight class.
The De Randamie matchup was not the first time Ladd had issues with weight. In 2016, she came in 2.1 pounds heavy for a scrap with Jessica Hoy under the Invicta banner. In 2018, a bout against Leslie Smith was scratched when Ladd was 1.8 pounds over the 136-pound limit and Smith refused to accept a catchweight matchup.
Ladd’s suspension ended in October after Ladd weighed around 154 pounds six weeks out from her fight with Kunitskaya. With that, Ladd said she expected to have a more manageable weight cut heading into Saturday’s contest.
Ladd is a talented fighter and the hype that surrounds her is not empty. She does have the potential to become a champion at bantamweight, but if she once again struggles to hit the 136-pound mark, the UFC will need to consider forcing her to move to 145 pounds. At just 24, the damage she could be doing to her body while cutting to 135 pounds is something the promotion needs to consider seriously.
UFC on ESPN 7 takes place Saturday at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.