As the only UFC fighter who learned jiu-jitsu on a faraway farm and is studying for a PhD in industrial psychology, Miranda Maverick is a rising star with a unique story. Now she is targeting Gillian Robertson at UFC 260 tonight.
As a youngster, Maverick’s father told her that she would be a champion, having watched her initially visit an MMA gym to learn self-defense before deciding to pursue the sport.
The family moved around the south and mid-west of the US during her youth, and her burgeoning desire to fight – partly inspired by Ronda Rousey – was helped by the physical demands of her upbringing.
“My dad and my siblings and I used to rough-house a lot when I was little, and it focused around us watching UFC fights and my dad learning jiu-jitsu from that and YouTube,” the 23-year-old told Red and Blue MMA ahead of her scrap with Robertson on the undercard of Francis Ngannou’s scrap with Stipe Miocic.
“I thought that I was pretty good at it, that I had a good background for it from working on a farm, to have the physical strength for it. After a couple of weeks, I grew a passion for it.”
After finding competition hard to come by following a string of successes that saw her ranked at number one in the mid-west, Maverick was contacted by Invicta FC on Facebook, subsequently accepting an invitation to fight for them.
She won five of her seven encounters with the promotion, losing only on decisions before winning the Invicta FC Phoenix Series 2 Flyweight Tournament in 2019 to alert UFC bosses.
“The losses, a lot of times, taught me how mentally weak I was when I was very young,” she ruthlessly reflected on her earliest bouts as a teenager.
“I was often fighting women who were much older than me and I would not have the right mindset walking into fights. I did not have that supreme confidence that I needed.”
That did not deter the UFC from offering her several deals. Canny Maverick held out in negotiations, requesting a multi-fight contract that would ensure her medium-term future rather than a swift departure even if she continued her victorious trajectory.
I like Miranda Maverick. She’s a savage and simultaneously getting a PHD. Crazy stuff
— Black Camaru (@Sweeegu) March 25, 2021
A win over Georgian Liana Jojua, who succumbed to a doctor’s stoppage, gave her another victory, acting as a support to former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 last October.
Away from her sporting exploits, Maverick is studying for her degree in Virginia, making a significant sacrifice to move far from her roots.
“I like going home sometimes and spending time with family,” she said. “I live a long way away from them right now.
“I’m a big family-orientated person. I really look forward to the time I get to spend with them.”
Robertson has substantially more experience than Maverick, winning six of her nine UFC fights. Most recently, ‘The Savage’ lost by a decision against Taila Santos in December.
“A lot of people would say that she has more of a grappling background but I do, too,” said Maverick, vowing to make her rival “pay for every ounce I had to cut” after a gruelling weight loss which she ended with chocolate milk following the weigh-in.
“She’s going to have a harder time than she thinks just taking me to the ground and beating me up. I feel like my striking and wrestling is a lot better than hers.”