UFC Lincoln: Cortney Casey Quickly Becoming UFC’s Short Notice Queen

Cortney Casey (left) UFC
Detroit, Michigan, USA. 2nd Dec, 2017: Cortney Casey punches Felice Herrig during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Credit: Scott Taetsch/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

Cortney Casey returns at UFC Lincoln this weekend, taking on the always-game Angela Hill. And once again, ‘Cast Iron’ is entering the octagon on short notice.

Little to no notice? No problem. Cortney Casey is quickly becoming the UFC’s short-notice Queen, as ‘Cast Iron’ is once again stepping in on short notice at UFC Lincoln. This time, it’s opposite former Invicta FC champ Angela Hill. A tough fight, but Casey has made a career of taking those.

Though heading into the bout on a two fight skid and just 1-3 in her last four, Casey has a big opportunity ahead of her. A main card fight against a former title holder outside the UFC. And Hill has enough of a profile from her stint back on TUF 20 to draw some eyeballs. We caught up with Casey ahead of the fight to discuss the bout, her willingness to get in the cage on short notice, and more.

Casey replaces Alexa Grasso in the fight, and it’s clear the UFC knows who to call when a fighter goes down. “I got the call as soon as they found out Grasso was out,” Casey told us. “It was right away that they called me, I talked it over with my coaches, we agreed to it, and the next day it was announced I was replacing Grasso for that fight.” As easy as that, though a short-notice bout brings with it its own set of complications.

The weight cut, of course, is always the first topic on everyone’s mind. “We’re on track right now,” Casey said when we spoke earlier this month. “We made a few adjustments to it. This is going to be I think my sixth or seventh short notice fight with the UFC. So I’ve done it before, but as the weight cuts continue, it does get a little bit more difficult.” Part of the complication is doing a short notice weight cut immediately after a longer fight camp. “Your body has to adjust,” Casey explained. “I just fought in April, so [I’m] just getting back right into it and just getting everything dialed in, but everything should be good and we’re on track, so we should be ready to go for August 24 for weigh in day.”

The other complications? The shortened camp, and having no time for bumps and bruises. Which resulted in Casey having to “condense everything down, be really smart about training, stay injury free” since there’s no time to work through injuries.

John Moraga and Bryan Barberena, who both train out of The MMA Lab alongside Casey, are also on the UFC Fight Night 135 card in Lincoln. Which allows for more coaches, and some extra bodies to help out during fight week. Casey also worked frequently with Drakkar Klose for the camp, and had a chance to work with Lauren Murphy as well.

In any case, despite the short-notice nature of the bout, Casey will be well prepared. After all, while she doesn’t exactly enjoy fighting short notice, “I just make sure I stay ready so I can do it.”

“I don’t want to have to turn down fights, especially good fights, if it’s just because I’m not ready,” said Casey of always being ready to go. “So I try to stay ready for it, so I can stay as active as possible.” It’s a win-win situation: her anywhere, anytime philosophy has earned her some top opponents, while the UFC needn’t flood the division with fighters just to fill injury spots.

Speaking of the division, 115lbs has been arguably the deepest on the women’s side for the last couple of years. Of course, Joanna Jedrzejczyk reigned supreme until Rose Namajunas dethroned her, but now, things are wide open. “I think it’s one of the stronger divisions right now,” Casey suggested of the weight class. “I think the strawweight division, and that 155lb division, and now with the move of champions in the 125lb division, I think we’re right up there as one of the more exciting and more stacked divisions in the UFC.”

Timing is everything as well. “I think right now we have a lot of the top ten and top fifteen girls fighting each other, so we should be seeing some movement here and there in the division,” added Casey. “I’m excited to see where the division goes within the next couple months.”

Speaking of the flyweight title changing hands at UFC 227, Casey shares a boxing coach with Henry Cejudo. “I thought it was a great fight,” she said of Cejudo vs. Mighty Mouse. “It was good, it was a team win for everyone, a good Arizona win for us. I was excited for it.” And count Casey as one who feels Johnson deserves the immediate rematch.

“She kind of has that Dominick Cruz kind of style, she does come from Alliance. You know she likes to get in and get out.”

Back on the subject of her fight, after a couple of split decision losses, Casey “definitely wants to keep it out of the judges’ hands for sure.” Most recently having dropped a split decision to Michelle Waterson, one lesson she took away is “making sure I win moments, and just staying active as much as possible. Pushing the pace, really implementing my aggressive style.” And avoiding falling into a point fighting game, she added.

Not being much of a social media/Twitter person — “frankly I don’t have time for it” — Casey hasn’t paid much attention to Hill’s social media presence, which can be rather entertaining if not a little over the top at times. As a fighter, however, she knows exactly what she’s up against.

“We definitely think she’s going to push the pace, she going to dance around a lot,” Casey said of her opponent at UFC Lincoln. “She kind of has that Dominick Cruz kind of style, she does come from Alliance. You know she likes to get in and get out. She kind of likes to point you a little bit. She’s real heavy on her kickboxing and stuff like that.” With fighters like Sean O’Malley and others at the MMA Lab, they’ve worked on recreating that.

In the end, Casey thinks this one is going to be a really good fight for fans. “We both like to stand and bang,” she said. “I’m just ready to put on a good show for everyone.”

UFC Lincoln (UFC Fight Night 135) takes place August 25 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Cortney Casey vs. Angela Hill takes place on the main card on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 5 in Canada).


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