This past weekend, Gillian Robertson added another finish to her resume, submitting Piera Rodriguez with a second round armbar on the prelims of UFC Kansas City. But as impressive as the win was, it came with a touch of controversy, because immediately after referee Keith Peterson stopped the bout, Rodriguez protested, saying she never tapped.
Video replay of the sequence was inconclusive, but ultimately didn’t matter as the official result was “verbal submission,” and as such, Robertson doesn’t believe there is any cause for controversy.
“I have rewatched the fight,” Robertson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “The ref said verbal submission. That was what it was deemed. You can’t see her face, you can’t see her mouth. I don’t know what the ref heard. Literally all I’m looking for is the ref to stop the fight. I’m not looking for her tap, I’m looking for the ref to pull me off.
“I think most people acknowledged what I was able to do. I was dominating the fight anyway. On the scorecards, I won the first round. The second round I might have got a 10-8, if it finished. So unless she came out and knocked me out in the third, there was no way she was going to win that fight.”
Controversy or not, the win still earned Robertson two firsts inside the UFC: her first Performance of the Night bonus, and her first win as a UFC strawweight. Since joining the UFC in 2017, Robertson has exclusively competed as a flyweight, to notable success. “The Savage” currently holds the records for most finishes in the flyweight (seven) and most submission wins in UFC history (also, seven). However, after working with the UFC Performance Institute, the 27-year-old decided that now was the time to make a serious run towards a UFC title.
“I was just walking really small,” Robertson said. “In my last five fights, I walked under 130 pounds. So last March I did a bone density scan with the UFC PI and they determined that I do fit in strawweight better. I’m too small for flyweight. They deemed I would be able to the cut safely, so I just worked with the PI and worked with their nutritionist and it was actually almost as easy of a cut to 115 as it is to 125...
“All camp long I was saying I want to suffer through camp so I don’t have to suffer the week of. So I added a lot of cardio and a lot of sauna time throughout camp, and the week of, I woke up about two days out and I was 117 pounds. So it was really easy to make the cut.”
Robertson went on to say that she believes strawweight will be her “home” for the foreseeable future, given how well this first time went. And while moving down from the 125 pound weight class to arguably the best division in women’s MMA is a bit like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, Robertson is looking for all the smoke, as soon as possible.
“Honestly, anybody top-15 I would be down for,” Robertson said. “I’m just trying to move up the rankings. If I want to be champ, I’ve got to beat them all, of I’ve got to be better than them all, so I don’t care who they give me, I just want someone [in the] top-15.”