In mixed martial arts, it’s not often a fighter can lose and still come out like looking like a winner, but that’s what happened with Canadian UFC strawweight Randa Markos.
Markos received an overwhelming amount of support after her loss to Jessica Penne Dec. 12 at the The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale. Despite coming out on the wrong end of a split decision, Markos and her opponent each took home a $50,000 bonus. Even more valuable than the money, the 29-year-old earned praise from UFC president Dana White.
“He was really happy with my performance, gave me a hug and said I deserved that Fight of the Night bonus,” Markos told Sportsnet.
TUF 20 fight week was a stressful one for the Windsor, Ont., native, as she was making her official UFC as well as competing in Las Vegas for the first time.
“It was an awesome experience you know just being at the [Palms Hotel and Casino] and being in a huge show like that. It was very stressful seeing the girls [from the TUF house] again, bumping into them into the lobby and everything. I was a little nervous; I threw up three times before my fight,” Markos laughed, “I felt a lot better though afterwards.”
Even with all the stress, one factor that kept Markos at ease during fight week was the presence of her brother who made the trip up from Windsor with her.
“He was there for the weigh-ins and actually got to walk me out. He loved that,” she said with excitement. “It was really nice having my brother there supporting me, but my family was also supporting me from home. They couldn’t make the trip out but were watching on the TV and just going crazy.”
The fight with Penne didn’t go as planned as Markos suffered just her second professional loss in her sixth career fight. The former PFC champion has yet to watch a replay of the matchup because she hasn’t “built up enough courage to put it on.” However, she does point to a few factors where she believes Penne fought the better fight.
“I felt like my grappling was there, she’s got just such a different style, you don’t normally see. I don’t think I’ve ever faced grappler with her style before. She’s got that flexibility and the length. It was just really difficult trying to control somebody like that. Definitely I have a lot to learn from that experience.”
In the opening stanza Markos was cut early after Penne secured a takedown in the first round. Despite what would end up being nasty gash above her eye, Markos revealed it wasn’t a factor in the loss.
“Honestly right when it happened I think I had like a few drops of blood and after that it stopped bleeding. And I just forgot all about it, it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even realize it was there until afterwards.”
Prior to the fight, the Canadian says her training camp Michigan Top Team went well. Even though everything in her camp was on point, one area where Markos felt like she over did things was balancing her regular full-time job and her fight camp.
“I’d been crossing the border every night after work [to Detroit] and working with Michigan Top Team on my standup. It was really hard trying to keep a full-time job and train for that last fight. I didn’t have much of a life at all; it was really stressful just trying to do both things at the same time.”
Many fans and pundits are wondering when Markos will make the transition from part-time to full-time fighter. Currently she is working full-time as a pharmacy technician in Windsor on top of training. Heading into next year, she says there will be some changes.
“Winning that [FOTN] bonus, hopefully I will be cutting back some hours [at the Pharmacy]; I probably still will be here part time. But [my work is] so awesome to me that whenever I need time off they’ll let me go. But definitely I’ll be taking some time off of work and focus on fighting and I really think that will benefit me a lot. I couldn’t do it before because I needed to pay my bills but getting that bonus will definitely help me out.”
In addition to training at Michigan Top Team and with UFC bantamweight Jessica Eye in Ohio, Markos is also open to the idea of training at other gyms. In her last interview with Sportsnet, she mentioned Roufusport in Milwaukee as a possibility, but hasn’t committed to anything in 2015.
“I haven’t looked into [training at different camps] yet, I will say I believe in my gym here at Michigan Top Team. They’ve been awesome and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my last fight. I’m definitely looking to go away for a couple weeks at different gyms and just picking up as much as I can. I’m not going to limit myself especially being in the UFC now. I need to be the best that I can because I know I can win that belt and I need to do whatever it takes to get there.”
So what’s next for the UFC bantamweight fighter? Markos is hoping that the rumour of the UFC coming to Windsor next year comes to fruition.
“I think that would be such an amazing event, to not only fight in the UFC but to fight in front my hometown. I don’t think I’ve ever fought here even as an amateur or before I went to The Ultimate Fighter. It would be awesome to just fight for everyone here.”
In terms of her next opponent, while Markos isn’t one to call out any fighters she isn’t shy about getting revenge on some of her previous losses.
“In the future definitely I want to fight Jessica Penne again; I think I can win that fight. I want to fight Rose [Namajunas] again, you know anybody that stands in my way of the belt. It doesn’t matter exactly who it is.”