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Mallory Martin opens up about fighting demons and how Hannah Cifers saved her life

Following a dramatic comeback win, Mallory Martin let it all out in the cage.

The strawweight prospect unleashed a loud scream after submitting Hannah Cifers in the opening bout of the UFC Vegas 8 preliminary card on Saturday at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The 26-year-old earned her first win inside the octagon in a stunning turnaround after she was nearly finished in round one. But that wasn’t the only reason she was so emotional.

After the bout, Martin told Cifers she’d saved her life. Martin explained the comment in a post-fight interview backstage.

“I was in a hard spot mentally,” she said, fighting back tears. “And I had nothing to look forward to, and I was depressed and just fighting my own demons. I had a hard camp, but before I started camp, I was dealing with some stuff. If it wasn’t for her taking the fight, I probably still would have fought, but just for her stepping in there and being in the cage with me meant a lot to me, because I don’t know if I would be here if it wasn’t for that.

“My coaches, I don’t know if they knew that I was struggling as much as I was, but they showed up for me every single day. So how would I not show up for them, you know?”

Although Martin didn’t elaborate further on her personal issues, she did say that her post-fight celebration was a cathartic release after working through a rough patch in her life.

“This whole year has been pretty hard for me with everything going on, and I’ve had other issues going on, so I’ve been just trying to get back to my old self, and I think that showed my old self,” Martin said.

Martin’s first UFC win didn’t come easy. She was badly rocked by Cifers in the first round, and were it not for her instinctively grabbing Cifers to slow her down, Saturday’s fight could have been a completely different story.

Instead, it was Martin who came out aggressive in the second, immediately taking Cifers down and working her way to a rear-naked choke submission that she locked in about 90 seconds after the start of the round. Although she was dazed in the moment, she had a chance to re-watch the fight and see just how close she was to losing.

“I didn’t even realize—I already watched it, looking back I was like, [the referee] could have easily stopped that, or it was close to it,” Martin said. “I made smart decisions, like I shot in on a shot, she sprawled, I got back up. She put me against the cage, I was a little wobbly against the cage and then I pulled guard.

“But mentally I was in the fight, and I knew that I just had to get her to stop. Whether it was clinch up with her or pull guard and get her in my guard and just hold her, but by the time I got back to my stool I was fully there and felt fine.”

Even with Cifers missing weight for the bout by a pound, Martin couldn’t hold a grudge against her and she said that she’d faced opponents who had missed by a larger amount before.

Now 1-1 in the UFC, Martin is already looking forward to another booking, and she hopes to land on the Oct. 31 card. She’s not planning for all of her fights to be so dramatic, but she admitted that she enjoyed authoring a comeback this time.

“I mean I can’t sit here and be like, ‘Oh, bummer,” Martin said of having to battle back from adversity. “I think it’s cool. I think it’s how champions are made, so I think it was in my cards and I played my cards.”

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