UFC Flyweight Gillian Robertson on Setting Records and Hunting for the Throat

Gillian Robertson UFC
Gillian Robertson Credit: Joe McDonagh/Cageside Press

Canadians aren’t exactly known for their savagery — we apologize far too much for that — but UFC flyweight Gillian Robertson absolutely is a savage when she enters the UFC octagon.

At just twenty-five years old, the fighter originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario has been setting all kinds of UFC records. Most fights in women’s flyweight history. Most wins in the division. Most submissions, and stoppages period, as well.

It’s all about mindset, really. “No matter what, I’m going in there to finish. I don’t fight to fight, I fight to win. I’m trying to get in there, and I’m not leaving it up to the judges,” Robertson (8-4) told Cageside Press in a recent interview. “I’m going to be setting records, and I just expect that of myself. I’m proud to set the record for the girls, but I want to be up in the records with the boys too. I’ve got a long way to go before I start reaching like, Charles Oliveira.”

Oliveira, of course, holds the UFC’s overall submission record. With 14 of them. “So I’ve just got to keep on pushing it til I’m up there,” opined Robertson.

Time, however, is on Gillian Robertson’s side. She’s young, not even in her prime yet. Which, when you think about it, is a scary prospect for a fighter already accomplishing so much. “I expect to set records because I have so much time, and I don’t expect these girls to be able to last with me,” stated Robertson. “I’m just here to put girls away.”

She’s put five away in the UFC’s flyweight division so far. She’s confident there’s more to come, but don’t mistake confidence for ego.

“I think there’s a thin line between cockiness and confidence, and I try to keep myself on that,” Robertson told us. “I’m very confident of my abilities, but I also don’t want to be too cocky and talk too big of myself, and rush myself too much.”

If it’s ever needed, there’s no doubt Robertson’s head coach, Din Thomas, will help keep that in check. With a fight upcoming against Poliana Botelho, Robertson is once again hard at work, preparing to earn her next submission. Although this time around, “The Savage” had to hit pause for a couple weeks and self-isolate after Thomas tested positive for COVID-19.

“Din was on his way to Fight Island and tested positive for coronavirus. That’s the only time during quarantine that I’ve actually taken time off training,” she revealed. As for herself, Robertson is healthy and ready to keep going.

“Luckily I’m a little bit more north of where I used to be. At the beginning of quarantine, I was down south in Florida, by American Top Team in Coconut Creek,” Robertson said. That’s an area of the state harder hit by the pandemic.

“Up where I’m at, we have a unique training situation that I’ve got with Din right now too. It’s just a couple of us. We haven’t been using a lot of training partners, just keeping it very quarantined,” she stated. “My area hasn’t been too bad through the coronavirus.”

Luckily Thomas’ symptoms were light. Meanwhile, Robertson is making the best of a tough situation. “I’m just a go with the flow kind of person. Even when the beginning of the pandemic happened, we were still just making things happen. We were still making it work,” she said. “Even the first camp [for Cortney Casey in June] just felt normal. We just got into it and kept working.”

That June fight saw Robertson earn a late third-round submission over Casey. The Canadian was in the driver’s seat for the entire bout. And not only was the outcome another submission win, but a historic victory as well: Robertson became the first Canadian fighter to win at the UFC Apex.

“To be the first was amazing,” she said. “My fight at the Apex was actually supposed to be in Saskatoon, so it’s a shame that I wasn’t to be in front of that crowd.”

Still, it’s hard to argue with the result. Part of which you can credit to her strong mental approach, including meditation under the guidance of Thomas.

“People don’t realize how much of the sport is mental. Once you get in there, your mind controls it 100%,” Robertson said on the mental aspect of MMA, and why it’s important to prepare for that as well. “You can break down and then stop, it won’t be you necessarily fighting. You’re not fighting how you would in the gym.”

“A lot of people, they’re gym warriors because of that. They’ll be killing everybody in the gym, but can’t perform just because of their mental state,” she continued. “I feel like the mental part of it is a huge part of it, and that’s what’s going to make me a world champion some day.”

Robertson doesn’t have a location for her next fight yet, just as she didn’t heading into the fight against Casey. But she knows it will be against Botelho, more than likely either at the Apex in Las Vegas, or on Fight Island. Given her choice, she’s prefer Vegas.

“I’m not a huge plane person. I don’t want to be stuck on a plane for that long,’ she admitted. Robertson has even had nightmares about flying to locations like Australia, just because of the flight. “It terrifies me, gives me so much anxiety.”

But she’s happy enough either way, because at least then she can fight. “Just to be able to be back in the octagon would be enough for me.”

When it comes to Botelho, Robertson believes that she’ll simply be too much for the Brazilian. “I feel like she hasn’t really been tested by my level of competition,” she said. “I feel like she hasn’t necessarily had a lot of tough match-ups in the UFC, and I’m going to be one for her.”

If she picks up her sixth win at 125lbs, then her goal is a ranked opponent.

“I want somebody with a number next to their name after this,” Robertson said. No matter what, she wants to get her name out there, and move up in the rankings. “It’s my time to be noticed, it’s my time to shine.”

And just remember — Gillian Robertson is always coming for the throat. “I’m always hunting for the throat, I always go for the rear-naked choke. It’s just depends  how long I have to beat her up until I get there,” she said of how the fight against Botelho will end.

Gillian Robertson faces Poliana Botelho on October 17, 2020, at a location TBD.