Confidence is key, and Randa Markos is ready to unlock that door.
Windsor, Ont.’s Markos (10-11-1) will look to get back in the win column when she welcomes Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) graduate Luana Pinheiro (8-1) into the UFC on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 23 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Markos, 35, has been in the UFC since 2015 and shared the cage with some of the best strawweights in the world, including Mackenzie Dern, Amanda Ribas, Angela Hill and Carla Esparza.
In both number of fights as well as quality of competition, Markos holds a significant experience edge over the newcomer Pinheiro, and she said she’s learning to turn that experience into confidence heading into fight night.
“It’s definitely a big confidence boost that I’ve never really used in the past and I need to look at that. A lot of times I’m really hard on myself and I don’t take that into consideration. My record doesn’t look great at all, but if you look at who I’ve fought, it’s pretty impressive. I need to look at that with confidence going into this fight and going into every fight,” said Markos in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I’ve never got an easy fight, I’ve got top fighters every time and I’m happy about that. I should take it as a confidence boost that I’ve only fought the best in the division.”
Markos is entering new territory in this matchup, having lost three fights in a row for the first time in her long career.
She said she was starting to feel the pressure of snapping out of the skid, which is part of the reason she made the move to Travis Lutter’s gym in Texas for this training camp from her usual home at Final Round MMA and Fitness in Michigan.
“I’m better than this, I’m better than three losses in a row, this sucks. It really flipped a switch in my head like I’m not going down like this. This is not who I am to walk away from the sport with three losses in a row,” said Markos.
“I’m way better than this and just need to prove to myself that this isn’t where I belong. I need to be up there, I’ve fought all the best for a reason and I’ve been around in the UFC for almost eight years. I need to make sure I’m doing everything I possibly can to show everybody what I can do and not for what happened this last year.”
This matchup with Pinheiro was originally scheduled for UFC 260 back in March, but Markos was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
Markos said it was frustrating to have the bout cancelled, especially due to her being asymptomatic, but there were also a few positives to draw from the added time as well.
“It was really frustrating because I didn’t have any symptoms, which I’m blessed and happy that I didn’t, but I felt like I don’t have any symptoms, why am I stuck in this room? The recovery process was just self-isolation for 10 days and it sucked for 10 days being isolated and not having any symptoms,” said Markos.
“I felt like I was ready and it was just another bump in the road, but I took it as a positive in that we’re going to get another month to prepare for this fight, so if I wasn’t ready before I’m definitely going to be this time.”
Although dropping her most recent bout to Kanako Murata via unanimous decision, Markos tied a UFC strawweight record in the bout, matching Angela Hill with 16 UFC strawweight appearances. Hill has since moved to 17, but Markos will once again match her on Saturday night.
Markos said the record was never something she was gunning for, but that she just likes to stay active and enjoys competing as much as possible.
“I love to stay active, I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t. It sucks when you don’t have the right training, with last year being so s**tty, but I just like to stay active. I’m not getting any younger and I want to take advantage of what I have,” said Markos.
“It just goes to show I love to fight, this is my life. If I’m not fighting, then what am I doing? I’m just waiting.”
“I want to thank Final Round for everything they’ve done. The change was difficult, but it needed to be done. They’ve done a lot for me, but training partners just weren’t there and this needed to happen. And for Team Lutter to be so open, from day one they’ve been awesome with me, taking me in and helping me and doing everything they possibly can to help me do well in this fight.” Follow Markos on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM