Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

UFC

UFC Fight Night: policewoman Germaine de Randamie only wants to fight and entertain in Abu Dhabi

Top-ranked challenger at bantamweight takes on Julianna Pena at UFC Fight Night on Yas Island

Germaine de Randamie's two defeats in UFC have come against Amanda Nunes, left. USA TODAY Sports
Germaine de Randamie's two defeats in UFC have come against Amanda Nunes, left. USA TODAY Sports

Committed to maintaining law and order in her day job, Germaine de Randamie is intent on causing a little chaos in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“I came here with one goal and one goal only: to finish the fight,” says the Dutchwoman of her upcoming clash with Julianna Pena at UFC Fight Night on Yas Island. “I want that 50k. I might lose this fight because I’m crazy. I’m crazy to take a risk. I’m here to fight, not to lay and pray.”

Just as well De Randamie leaves the mayhem to mixed martial arts. She is a policewoman in her native Netherlands, the profession she says that really pays the bills, meaning she competes on Fight Island not out of necessity, but simply because she loves to fight.

And, as the first featherweight champion in UFC history and the current No 1-ranked challenger at bantamweight, she just so happens to be pretty good at it, too.

“I’ve been here, I’ve done this, I’ve seen it all,” De Randamie tells The National from her hotel room. “I’m only fighting because I love fighting. I’m not here because I have to be.

“I’ve done it all. I’m a former UFC champion, 10-times undefeated kickboxing champion of the world. I fought a man. I don’t care if I win or lose. I’m ready to take that risk. I’m ready to knock somebody out. I’m here to entertain.”

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 08: Germaine de Randamie (R) of the Netherlands knocks out Anna Elmose of Denmark to win their Women's Bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night 87 at Ahoy on May 8, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Germaine de Randamie, right, knocks out Anna Elmose at UFC Fight Night 87 in 2016. Getty Images

Now 36, De Randamie has done that for the majority of her 21-year fight career. Having excelled at elite kickboxing – she was 46-0 – “The Iron Lady" transitioned into MMA in 2008 and debuted in the UFC in 2013. Within four years, she had defeated Holly Holm to capture the featherweight crown. At present, her UFC record stands at 6-2.

The same woman inflicted those two losses: Amanda Nunes. The two-division champion, widely viewed as the greatest female UFC athlete of all time, first defeated De Randamie at featherweight, although she was only starting out in the promotion. The pair met again last December, when Nunes prevailed by unanimous decision after De Randamie had severely shaken her early on.

“The greatest of all time didn’t want to fight,” De Randamie says now. "I came to fight; she came not to lose. And I honestly believe I made it easy on her. Easier than I should have.

“It also showed the true champion Amanda Nunes is because she is. But, at the same time, I exposed her. I wasn’t impressed and I still believe I can absolutely beat her, no doubt.

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UFC stars arrive in Abu Dhabi

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“I did a lot of self-refection after that fight, and I knew what I did wrong. I made stupid mistakes. Nobody to blame but me. My coaches told me to do it differently, but I just wanted to knock her out.

“So, yeah, it motivates me, because I know I have more to bring to the table. And the day that I walk away I walk away because I want to, not because somebody tells me to.”

Even given the strength of her conviction, De Randamie doesn’t expect to be invited to sit at the top table again.

“I don’t believe the UFC will give me another title shot,” she says. “But if they do I’m going to take it with both hands, trust me. And if they don’t, I don’t care: I’m going to spoil a few parties for them. I'm a party-crusher. Bring your talent, I will crush that party.”

Still, with No 2-ranked Holm taking on No 6 Irene Aldana immediately afterwards at Flash Forum, Sunday morning could prove crucial in how the bantamweight division plays out going forward. Land a spectacular victory, then, and De Randamie would surely leap into title contention once more.

“It should,” she says. “And if not, then the winner should fight me. There’s nobody in the last few years who put Amanda Nunes in danger the way I did. Nobody. I was close to knocking her out.

I don’t believe the UFC will give me another title shot

Germaine de Randamie

“It would be amazing to get another shot. And if they give me another shot at Amanda and she beats me I retire right there and then, on the spot. I can promise you that. Because then I would always stay second best in MMA.”

Now, though, De Randamie is focused on what she needs to do to get past Pena on Sunday. The Venezuelan, the division's No 4-ranked challenger, represents a serious threat herself: her defeat to current flyweight Valentina Shevchenko is her only blemish in her past six bouts. That was January 2017. Last time out, in July last year, Pena saw off former flyweight title-holder Nicco Montano.

Given the recent record, De Randamie won’t treat her rival lightly.

“I believe every opponent is dangerous,” she says. “And I know she’s also dangerous because she’s got something to prove. She wants to beat the No 1-ranked fighter in the world. So she came here with a mission.

“She still wants her title shot, probably, so she’s dangerous. But I’m more dangerous, because I have nothing to lose.”

De Randamie insists the fire inside still burns bright, that she feels 18 despite being double that and thinking more and more about beginning a family of her own.

She stresses she's grateful to able to compete amid a global crisis, appreciative also of the sacrifices made by everyone around her – training partners, coaches, colleagues on the police force – to help her continue her journey at the top level of MMA.

“I’m blessed to be here,” De Randamie says. “I’m forever in their debt.”

And, although a history-maker already in multiple disciplines, Sunday adds another notable feat. Fighting on Fight Island, in a country she’s delighted to have ticked off her bucket list in spite of the UFC bubble – “unfortunately I can’t explore Abu Dhabi, but I will come back, 100 per cent – during a pandemic.

“Especially in times like this, still being able to do what you love to do,” De Randamie says. “I have a very busy job during the day and at night sometimes, so it’s just fun to be here.

“And later, one day when I have children of my own, I can tell them there was this crisis in the world and I went to an island across the ocean, in a safe zone where nobody could get in, and I fought there to entertain people. Isn’t that cool? It’s going to be one hell of a story.”

Updated: September 30, 2020 07:02 PM

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