Aspen Ladd was preparing for the biggest fight of her life.
Scheduled to face former champion Holly Holm at UFC 235, UFC President Dana White causally mentioned at a pre-fight press conference that the fight was off. No explanation, no potential replacement, the fight was cancelled. Like the rest of us, Ladd was caught off guard.
“I found out the same time everyone else did.” Ladd told MMANews. “Not even at that moment, I was sparring getting ready for the fight, very specific type stuff. She’s an interesting opponent to face and get ready for. I hopped out of the ring and my entire family was blowing up my phone. I had like 10-12 messages and that’s how I found out. She never signed a contract, nothing like that. I know they didn’t sign a deal until about a month ago, but we weren’t aware of that. I think the UFC kind of prematurely [announced the fight] before she signed. At that point it fell through, but I knew something would happen. You have to stay training.”
Instead, the 24-year-old would have to wait a few more months to step back into the cage. Ladd is set to face TUF 26 alum Sijara Eubanks at UFC on ESPN+ 10 on May 18. The pair already fought in Jan. 2017 at Invicta FC 21, with Ladd taking home a unanimous decision. The loss was Eubanks’ second in her last three fights and since then, the 33-year-old has gone undefeated. Ladd has taken notice.
“She’s a tough fight, we’ve both got a lot better since the first fight. Her striking’s definitely improved. I think like I have, she’s improved as a martial artist period.”
Ladd (7-0) is coming off an impressive first-round stoppage victory over former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger at UFC 229. The undefeated bantamweight has finished five of her six career opponents, including back-to-back wins in the UFC. While she’s less than three years removed from the first fight, Ladd had a feeling they would cross paths again.
“It seemed like she was she was dying to make [flyweight]. I was always curious [if she would move up] because we have fought before, I thought it might be something the UFC would be interested in doing, and it happened.”
UFC on ESPN+ 10 takes place May 18 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. In the main event former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos faces Kevin Lee in a welterweight bout.