Germaine de Randamie has been public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of many fans on social media this year.
But de Randamie did not want to fight Cyborg due to her past history with prohibited substances and said as much publicly, through her manager. The UFC decided to strip her of the title and have Cyborg fight Tonya Evinger for the vacant belt at UFC 214 on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.
Of all the things that have happened in the last five months, de Randamie told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that the worst has been some of the things she has seen from people on social media. The Netherlands native said she has had people tell her she’s worthless, that she should commit suicide and some have sent her photos of gravestones with her name on it.
“People can say I’m scared,” de Randamie said. “I don’t mind. As long as I can look myself in the mirror and know I’m not scared. People can say I’m a cheater, I know I’m not a cheater. Of course it hurts, but I can’t change a person’s mind. If they believe that, it’s their opinion. But all the other stuff? Yeah, it hurt me. That hurt me more than losing the belt.”
De Randamie, 33, said the words upset her, for herself and for the thought that others face that kind of harassment, too.
“That goes deep,” she said. “It’s not only for me. This involves many other people. How many kids have been bullied, have committed suicide? I think that’s horrible. My only mission in life is to share what I love so much with the people that love it as much as I do.
“I’m talking about a lot of people who told me I should commit suicide and that I’m worthless. I’ve never been rock bottom, but it did hurt me. It hurt me because people think it’s OK to write something to somebody like that.”
De Randamie (7-3) will go back down to bantamweight and fight Marion Reneau at UFC Fight Night 115 on Sept. 2 in Rotterdam, near her hometown of Utrecht. She said she expressed her desire to move down to 135 again to the UFC even before she fought Holm.
The decision not to fight Cyborg, de Randamie said, was twofold. She didn't want to fight someone with a past history of performance-enhancing drugs and she also wanted to fight at 135 pounds. De Randamie, who is a police officer in Amsterdam, said she also would not have been ready for July 29 due to her job.
“We decided not to take the fight, not only because of the steroid thing or me being against people who abuse substances,” said de Randamie, who also came under fire for shots landed after the bell against Holm. “I was not going to be ready July 29. I have a full-time job. Fighting for me right now is a hobby. I don't live a fighter life.
“I understand the people do not agree with my decision. I understand that people disagree with it very big. But besides people disagreeing, I’ve been through a lot of shit. People have accused me and said the most horrible things to me. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed out of the media.”
Cyborg tested positive for steroids in 2011 and served a suspension for it. She failed another drug test under USADA for a banned diuretic. But six weeks later USADA granted Cyborg a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) after an investigation showed she had been using the substance as prescribed medical treatment. De Randamie did not believe USADA’s procedure was legitimate and implied they were playing favorites.
“Every fighter would have still been suspended because they didn’t ask for permission for using a diuretic,” de Randamie said. “Every fighter would still get punished.”
De Randamie said she stands by her belief that banned substances should not be in the sport of MMA.
“I believe that forbidden substances are not allowed in sports, especially not in fighting,” she said. “This is a full contact sport. People have ended up in a wheelchair. … We put our lives on the line. We’re here to entertain people. I don’t regret anything. There are things that I don’t support and that’s my opinion.
“I want to have kids one day. What’s the message that I want to send to kids? That it’s OK to use PEDs in sports?”
De Randamie said she's “more motivated than ever” and in good spirits heading into the fight with Reneau. She doesn't want to stop fighting, because she still loves what she does. “The Iron Lady,” though, has since made her Instagram private to prevent the barrage of insulting comments to her. That, more than anything, made for a difficult few months, she said.
“You don’t have to like me,” de Randamie said. “You can disagree with the decisions I’ve made. You can. But you don’t have to hurt people with things. That’s my opinion.
“I don’t care about the belt. What I do care about is staying me. It’s OK that they took away the belt. The only thing that I cared about was the things that people said.”