Sijara Eubanks can looks back at “The Ultimate Fighter” 26 Finale with a lot more perspective now than she did six months ago.
After several devastating performances on the reality show, Eubanks was scheduled to face Nicco Montano to determine the first ever UFC women’s flyweight champion. Unfortunately, Eubanks suffered through a brutal weight cut that forced her off the card and Montano went onto defeat Roxanne Modafferi to become champion.
At the time, Eubanks admits that she was absolutely devastated by what happened but the disastrous situation also served as the ultimate wake up call that she had to make some serious changes before fighting again.
“When it first happened, I was down in the dumps. I was like this is terrible. But once I was able to get level headed and think about it, it’s probably one of the best things that happened in my career was missing the weight and not getting that title shot,” Eubanks said ahead of her return on Friday. “Because I think emotionally I wouldn’t have been ready, I was a little cocky coming off the show, I think I got a little complacent coming off the show and it kind of humbled me. It made me think and re-evaluate my career.
“The universe decided it wasn’t my time and there’s more for me to learn. More for me to learn emotionally, technically and mentally.”
As hearbreaking as it was to not get that first shot at the title, Eubanks says the aftermath was probably the most beneficial time for her entire career.
After being yanked from the TUF 26 Finale, Eubanks started working with the UFC Performance Institute to really understand her body chemistry and what needed to change to safely cut the weight to get down to the 125-pound limit.
“I was able to learn a lot about how I condition and how I train and how my body loses weight. I had been cutting the wrong way. So I was able to adjust my diet and get a whole new nutrition plan and I was able to get my walk around [weight] down like eight pounds before camp even started,” Eubanks revealed.
“I’m glad I did what I did because I don’t think I would have taken my nutrition or my conditioning as seriously as I did if I didn’t miss the weight. It kind of forced me to really take a sincere look at how I conditioned my body and how I eat. I feel like a whole new fighter.”
The Fight Night Utica fighters faced off after weighing in on Thursday. Subscribe to get all the latest UFC content: http://bit.ly/2uJRzRR Experience UFC live with UFC FIGHT PASS, the digital subscription service of the UFC.
Since that situation unfolded, Eubanks has gotten lighter and faster on her feet while also getting an additional six months of training time under head coach Mark Henry, who is the same trainer for fighters such as Frankie Edgar, Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza.
Eubanks then got even more good news when the UFC offered her a fight against former reality show housemate Lauren Murphy for the card in Utica, N.Y. taking place on Friday night.
Both fighters are ranked in the top five at flyweight and Eubanks believes a win over Murphy puts her right back to where she was six months ago except this time she’s far better prepared to become champion.
“When they called me up for Lauren, I thought it was perfect. I don’t get Nicco right away, no problem, that just gives me more time to learn,” Eubanks said. “I wanted a top ranked opponent so it would keep me in line for the title shot and I think Lauren is the perfect opponent for that.
“She’s ranked high, she’s a veteran of the sport and I think finishing Lauren will not only put me in line for the title shot but it makes me a very dangerous contender. It’s definitely going to open some eyes about how good I am.”