Gina Mazany was released from her first stint with the UFC following a first-round TKO loss to Macy Chiasson at UFC 235. The problem? It took her seven months to find out.
After an opening round finish on the regional scene in January, “Danger” is getting a second chance with the promotion as she steps in on short notice this Saturday against Julia Avila at UFC on ESPN 10. The event takes place at the UFC APEX and will be headlined by Jessica Eye and Cynthia Calvillo.
Mazany made the decision to relocate, alongside her partner UFC flyweight Tim Elliott and she feels that played a factor in getting the call.
“I moved to Las Vegas from Seattle for these specific reasons,” Mazany told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “In my opinion, I think Las Vegas is one of the fight capitals of the world. Now we have the UFC Performance Institute, there was the Contender Series, The Ultimate Fighter, all of that stuff. So if you’re in the same city, the same state, those opportunities are going to open up.
“During this quarantine, Tim (Elliott) and I were still training and doing our thing. Then there was talks about fights happening and I just kind of stayed ready. Hope for the best and expect the worst. Now I have a nine-day notice fight. At least I’m not fighting Sara McMann this time. I’m always game and I’ve never said no to anybody they’ve asked me to fight. I’m really excited for it, so stinking grateful.”
Mazany finished her first UFC run with a 1-3 record. After dropping her second straight bout in March 2019 to Chiasson, she was back in the gym working for her next fight with the promotion. As time went on, and requests were made, she still didn’t have a fight.
The reason for that would be revealed several months later.
“When they let me go, I didn’t know I was fired for six, seven months,” Mazany said. “The management I was previously with, they had me under the impression to stay ready for a short notice fight and keep my weight low. I’m a good listener so I stayed ready.
“So I was talking to Jason House, and basically he was like, ‘They let you go,’ and I was like, ‘Sh*t, get me a fight.’ So I signed with him.”
As the 31-year-old continued to get work in at the UFC PI, it was like business as usual, despite not being on the roster. In a way, it was almost as if the promotion didn’t have the heart to give Mazany the news themselves due to what she was unknowingly going through with her, now, prior management team.
“I was still going to the Performance Institute,” Mazany said. “I was still getting PT from them, strength and conditioning, getting fed from them, but I wasn’t on the roster. I know Mick (Maynard) felt really bad that I was being dicked around so I’m grateful that he was sympathetic towards that because it sucks. I think that being a fighter is a hard job as it is, but it’s even harder when you don’t know what you’re working towards.
“I’m happy when I’m active, and I wasn’t active during those six to seven months. So that sucked.”
The Xtreme Couture 135er picked up her lone UFC win in November 2017, picking up a unanimous decision over Yanan Wu.
Naturally, when Mazany received honesty from her now manager that she had been released, it wasn’t received in a positive manner.
“I was f*cking pissed,” Mazany stated. “I’m 31, and I think—with females especially—the older we get, the better we are. I believe that we can fight until 35, 36, but I don’t have any time to waste. I was healthy, I was ready, in shape, and was under the impression there would be opportunities. There were fights coming up and I was like, ‘Hey, if one of the girls fall out, I would love to take it.’ I was on it. I was doing my homework for my management team.
“I tried everything and it just never happened. It was such a bummer but Jason House was a breath of fresh air. He sat me down and was like, ‘Here’s the deal: we’re gonna get you a fight. You’re not gonna make any money really, but that’s okay, then maybe another fight, then get you back to the UFC, or a bigger promotion where you’ll get paid.’ And he did what he said would do, I did what I said I would do and the stars are beginning to align, finally.”
With the advice from House, Mazany took a fight for King of the Cage in January—up two weight classes—and finished Valerie Barney in just over three minutes via strikes. While it felt good to get back to work, it was an almost bittersweet victory.
“To be fair, that win didn’t give me the feels that I’m looking for on Saturday night,” Mazany explained. “The feels I’m looking for, I havent felt in a minute. I’m super hungry for this fight.”
Avila was originally scheduled to face Karol Rosa this weekend, but, for the fourth time, the matchup fell through. This time, visa issues and travel restrictions from Brazil to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the reasoning. “Raging Panda” has a lot of buzz heading into her sophomore UFC appearance after picking up a one-sided unanimous decision at UFC 239 this past July.
Mazany is the biggest underdog on Saturday night’s event in her home town and that’s the way she likes it.
“For me, I always put a little pressure on myself,” Mazany explained. “They say pressure makes diamonds and that’s what I’m going for. Big risk, big reward. I wouldn’t be in the UFC in the first place if I didn’t take these kind of opportunites. If a door cracks open, I’ve got to burst right through it. I’m gonna spartan kick that thing down. That’s the type of attitude I have.
“This is a do or die fight for me. It’s like, ‘Does Gina really deserve to be in the UFC? Is she really able to step up to these girls?’ I really like being the underdog, and I have enough people who believe in me, I believe in myself enough where I don’t need those fools betting against me. Do your thing, but I’ll surprise everybody.”
With the hopes for different results the second time around, armed with some new skills she’s acquired since moving to Xtreme Couture, Mazany is ready to play spoiler against one the division’s standout prospects.
“I think I’m gonna surprise her quite a bit,” Mazany said. “I have a feeling that her and her team might be underestimating me a little bit like everyone else is. I’ve just been training with grown men for the last six to eight weeks and getting my butt kicked, and kicking grown men butt as well. I’m used to the kind of grind and pressure that she likes to put on girls. That’s nothing new to me, that grind and grit. That’s my jam.”