The year is 2019 and arguably the best female prospect in the UFC is Aspen Ladd (9-3). Ladd was a perfect 8-0 and she was booked to face off against former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie in July of 2019.
Had she won that fight, she was likely going to get a bantamweight title shot. However, Ladd was cracked with a massive right hand that put her down. Herb Dean called a stop to the fight just 16 seconds into the first round.
Never mind that loss, she just got caught. After that, Ladd bounced back very strong when she stopped Yana Kunitskaya at a UFC Fight Night in December. Just like that, Ladd was back in the title picture.
After that win, the UFC booked Ladd against Julianna Pena for March of 2020. However, Pena ended up suffering an injury and pulled out of the fight. Who knows what would have happened to Ladd’s career had that fight taken place.
The UFC removed Ladd from the card and booked her for a June fight with Sara McMann. However, Ladd tore her ACL and MCL in training and was forced out of competition for over a year. Ladd wouldn’t fight in the UFC again until October of 2021.
UFC 273 Fallout
Ladd was originally supposed to fight Macy Chiasson in her return, but after weight cut issues, the fight was cancelled. After that, Ladd was booked in a headliner up a weight class in the UFC’s featherweight division when she stepped in for Holly Holm on short-notice.
Ladd fought Norma Dumont and put on a terrible performance. She was extremely gun shy and really didn’t do anything throughout the entirety of the fight. It was an underwhelming fight overall and Ladd lost a decision.
Mentally, she just didn’t look like the same fight we had seen in 2019 and prior. Her return to the UFC’s bantamweight division was this past Saturday against Raquel Pennington. She did a good job in the final round, but easily dropped the first two on the scorecards.
All three judges gave the fight to Pennington which was the second straight loss for Ladd. I still think Aspen Ladd has a ton of talent. She can be a premier bantamweight in the UFC, but things have to change in her corner.
It’s clear that there’s a miss in the corner. There’s been controversy in the past with some of the comments from her head coach and after watching on Saturday night, I just don’t think it’s a match that’s made to last.
I think there needs to be a complete evaluation of her career. From her corner to her state of mind inside the octagon. She has the talent to do it, but talent can only get you so far in the UFC.