Aisling Daly had developed a fair bit of hype in the UFC strawweight division, as a Dubliner trained by John Kavanagh.
But that alone wasn't enough to lift her to a victory at UFC 186. Canadian Randa Markos kicked off Saturday night's card at Montreal's Bell Centre with an impressive unanimous decision win over her TUF 20 teammate.
Markos wasted little time getting untracked in the early going, as she demonstrated impressive hand speed in firing off punches in bunches, which kept Daly backpedaling. A scramble in the middle of the round ended with Markos in top position, and she transitioned into a solid head-and-arm choke, though Daly managed to break free in the round's closing seconds.
In the second round, Markos scored a takedown and held Daly in a schoolyard headlock while she administered left hands. Later in the round, though, Daly got her first sustained offense of the fight, scoring a takedown and dishing out some ground and pound in the round's final minute.
After clinch-filled opening moments in the final round, Markos scored a takedown and once again grabbed Daly in a headlock. Daly got out and scrambled back to her feet, but they once again end up on the mat, with Markos in top control. From there, Markos worked both an armbar and then a triangle, though Daly held on until the finish.
"I was working my ass off every single day since my last fight," Markos said. "I want to prove I belong in the UFC. Aisling's a great fighter and I knew she was going to bring it."
Markos, who trains in Detroit and lives in Windsor, Ontario, improved to 5-2 and has won two of her past three. Daly (20-6) had a two-fight win streak snapped and lost for the first time since dropping to strawweight.