Sijara Eubanks has been so close to UFC gold in the past that she could nearly taste it.
That’s why it’s tough for the former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist to completely shut the door on a future competing at 125 pounds despite the fact that the weight cut to get down to that division was nearly killing her.
This Saturday night in Rochester, N.Y., Eubanks will make her UFC bantamweight debut in a pivotal rematch against highly touted prospect Aspen Ladd. The winner of the fight will undoubtedly be in an envious position, potentially just a win or two away from a title shot.
Still as much as Eubanks hopes to avenge a prior loss to Ladd and inch closer to a shot at bantamweight gold, she can’t completely forget about the work she did at flyweight.
“I’m going to leave crack open. Never say never. I’m going to leave a crack there,” Eubanks said about potentially return to flyweight when speaking to MMANews. “Some people don’t know but I was a bantamweight before and I made the cut to 125 to get into “The Ultimate Fighter’ and when the title shot was so close, I just kept pushing it and just trying for force that weight class and I never gave myself the time.
“I’d really like to use Jessica Andrade as an example. She was fighting at 135 [pounds] and when she made the drop to 115, she took like nine months off to revamp her body to fight at 115, to take all that body fat off. I just turned 34, I didn’t really have time to remake my body to make flyweight. You have to take time to really remake your structure to make that weight and I never really ever in my life gave myself time like that,”
While this isn’t a move that she’s planning any time soon, Eubanks knows that flyweight could still be in her future, especially when considering the unfinished business she has in that division.
“Now that I’m comfortable and I’m happy where I’m at bantamweight, I’ve got a long career ahead of me and I’ve got a lot of fights left in me,” Eubanks said. “I’m not going to say no, I’m going to leave that crack open.
“Plus I talked a bunch of smack to a bunch of ladies at flyweight so I’ve gotta follow up on that and back up that smack talk a little bit.”
All jokes aside, Eubanks admits that she is a much healthier and happier person fighting at 135 pounds without trying to cut that additional 10 pounds to make the flyweight limit.
That’s why it’s tough for her to commit to a future at flyweight while still leaving that door open just in case she ever decides to make that move.
“The cut to flyweight was just getting to be too much. I didn’t want to put my career in jeopardy, my health in jeopardy trying to make these cuts every time,” Eubanks said. “It just came down to what could I do and how long did I want to keep doing that cut to my body. I feel like at bantamweight, I could focus a lot more on me as an athlete. I could focus a lot more on me as a martial artist and do a lot more stuff that I like to do. I like to do strength and conditioning. I like to wrestle. A lot of those things I couldn’t do at flyweight because everything added muscle. Now I can put muscle on freely and do more things as a martial artist and as an athlete.
“It’s also a stress relief. The last two years I feel like everything I did was I had to weight every single piece of food that went into my body. Everything was measured. Everything was just tight, tight, tight. And if anything was a little off it was like oh my god, how much do I weigh? It’s been a huge weight off my shoulders, no pun intended, coming up to this weight class.”