It’s taken a couple of tries and one of the more bizarre stoppages in recent memory, but Megan Anderson can officially call herself a winner in the UFC.
One of the only true 145-pound female fighters on the roster, Anderson was hoping that a win against Cat Zingano at UFC 232 would propel her to a title shot. Anderson previously held the Invicta FC featherweight championship and she debuted with some fanfare at UFC 225 in June where she lost a unanimous decision to Holly Holm.
The Zingano fight lasted just 61 seconds and ended with Anderson’s hand raised, which on paper seems like a resounding success for the 28-year-old Australian; in reality, the outcome was marred by an eye injury that Zingano suffered after Anderson threw a high kick that caused her toe to lacerate Zingano’s eyelid.
Fortunately, Zingano appeared to be mostly fine afterwards, but Anderson still received plenty of scorn and scrutiny from fans on social media.
“There was a significant amount of hate,” Anderson told Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour on Monday. “I got a lot of, ‘You’re a piece of shit,’ all this kind of stuff. I got, ‘You need to cut your toenails or your nasty ass nails’ and shit like this. Anyone who’s in the business knows that they check you two times before you even go out and then they check you at the cage so I feel like if something was wrong they would have told me the three freakin’ times that they checked me and they were just like, ‘You’re all good, you’re fine.’
“I got, ‘That’s not a win, you shouldn’t be proud of that.’ Well that’s not my decision. I threw a legal blow that happened to land in a weird spot and I got the win from that. A win is a win and if Cat wants to run it back I’m happy to give it to her, it’s not a problem, but at the end of the day I have that win on my record and I put in a lot of hard work and a lot of time into that and — no matter what people on the internet say — I’m going to be proud of that performance.
“If you watched any of my fights, that combination that I threw is very common and I have landed that a lot of times and I have finished fights with that combination. So if Cat didn’t have her hands up, then she didn’t really do her homework very well because that’s a very common combination for me to throw.”
Whether or not the wheels are in motion for a rematch with Zingano, Anderson doesn’t want to hear any talk of her first UFC win being a fluke. And she definitely refutes any accusation that she engaged in underhanded tactics.
She pointed to previous wins against Amanda Bell, Amber Leibrock, and Charmaine Tweet as examples of her using a similar combination en route to finishes that were free of controversy. This time her foot went slightly awry, which she thinks most educated observers should know was not intentional.
“I’ve had that move executed three times now just finishing fights, so I obviously wasn’t aiming for her eyeball,” Anderson said. “I was getting a lot of shit for that, ‘You’re a dirty cheater’ and stuff like that.
“I’m pretty sure anyone who is in the sport knows that when you kick someone, you aim for someone’s face, the last thing you’re thinking about is trying to poke them in the friggin’ eyeball. The rules is what it is, but they want a rematch, we’re more than happy to give it to them if that’s what they want.”
Had the fight lasted longer, Anderson says she would have been able to show how her game plan involved a lot of takedown defense and using her considerable size advantage to control the range as she has in other fights. Though she’s disappointed in the fight ending the way it did, she credited referee Marc Goddard with reading an uncommon situation quickly and providing clear instructions to her and Zingano until the fight was waved off.
“I’d never seen anything like that. It definitely was strange,” Anderson said. “Marc Goddard is one of the best in the business and when it all happened I looked to him to see what he was going to do because the way that Cat kind of looked away, I knew something wasn’t right, I knew she was hurt, I didn’t know what had happened.
“I kind of turned to him and he was telling her, ‘The fight’s still going, you’ve got to fight back. Got to fight back.’ And I was like, okay, I’m gonna do my job. I can’t exactly just stop if he’s telling me to keep going so it’s unfortunate circumstances. I really feel like I wanted to showcase a lot more of what I’m capable of. But a win is a win and we’re happy to finally get that win in the UFC and I’m glad that Cat’s gonna be okay.”