It’s a stat that may have flown under the radar, but Ashley Yoder’s last outing made a lasting mark in the UFC history books.
This past June at UFC Greenville, Yoder earned her first UFC win streak by soundly outpointing Syuri Kondo. It was such an overwhelming performance that one of the judges awarded Yoder a 30-24 score, the first-ever issued in a women’s UFC fight (the other two judges scored the fight 30-26 and 30-25 in Yoder’s favor).
Looking back on the victory, “Spider Monkey” recalls that it was a chance for her to show off her superior grappling game and improved confidence.
“For me, I went in and I didn’t want to stand and strike with someone that has striking experience,” Yoder told MMA Fighting. “I just wanted to do my own game plan and take it to the ground and see where it went there.
“I definitely wanted the finish but it was kind of awesome after we got in the back and they were interviewing me and telling me that I had made history with the most dominating scorecard for females in the UFC, so it was really cool to have that accolade after such a really awesome performance.”
Though Yoder didn’t earn her first Octagon finish, she is now on the cusp of a third straight win, which would be the best streak of success in the UFC’s 115-pound division behind only Xiaonan Yan and champion Zhang Weili (4), and Tatiana Suarez (5). That’s a sharp turnaround from the three consecutive losses that Yoder began her UFC career with.
Yoder was actually supposed to have the chance to steal Yan’s thunder this Saturday at UFC Singapore, but Yan was forced out with an injury and replaced on short notice by Randa Markos, a veteran of 12 UFC bouts. The shakeup didn’t affect Yoder and her team at all, particularly because she’s of the mentality that you train for what you do best, not what your opponent does best.
“I’ve always wanted to compete against people that I find that I look up to and I’ve really liked Randa ever since I saw her on The Ultimate Fighter,” Yoder said. “She’s fought a lot of the girls and I think it’s just gonna be a fun fight because we’re both scrappy and we don’t mind being anywhere on the mat.”
This past weekend actually marked the 14th anniversary of the death of Yoder’s brother Michael, a pivotal moment that put Yoder on the path to becoming a pro fighter. When she fought Amanda Cooper last November, that bout occurred around the anniversary of a cousin’s death. Suffice to say, emotions have been high for Yoder—even more so than usual for someone who competes under the bright lights of the UFC—but she’s been learning to “heal instead of deal,” as she puts it.
That means being positive and working to provide a positive example for others, all while constantly improving her own game. Yoder, 32, declined to set a timetable for herself as far as when she wants to be ranked or be considered for title contention, only stating that she fights who the UFC wants her to fight.
If she can pick up her third win in 12 months, the UFC will want Yoder front and center the next time she competes.
“I was a late bloomer, I started fighting when I was 20. I hope I’m in my prime,” Yoder said. “I’m always learning, always trying to develop new techniques, and learn how to defend techniques that to some people it comes naturally. Trying to play catch-up on the job, it’s been quite the experience, but I’m always looking to peak.
“Hopefully, this is my prime, so you’ll see that in my next couple of fights.”