Much like the hapless Dante Hicks in Clerks, Gillian Robertson wasn’t even supposed to be here this Saturday. Rather, Canada’s Robertson, one of the rising stars of the UFC’s flyweight division, was expected to compete a week ago, at UFC 256 against Andrea “KGB” Lee.
2020 has a tendency to wreak havoc on the best laid plans of UFC matchmakers, however. Though in this case, a broken nose, not COVID-19, was the culprit behind Lee dropping out.
As fate would have it, another UFC flyweight also lost her fight this month. Taila Santos was supposed to face off with Montana De La Rosa on December 5. With De La Rosa out, the UFC made the best of things, and paired Robertson and Santos up.
It’s a very different fight for “The Savage,” mind you. KGB Lee was ranked. Santos is not. Lee also carried far more name value. Robertson, however, is taking it all in stride. “I know that if I want to be the champ one day that I’ve got to beat all these girls in the division,” she told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 17 media day on Thursday. “So if I can’t beat Santos then I don’t deserve to have the belt. If I’m going to work my way up there, then I’ll take any fight.”
Robertson is all about a strong mental game. Her team has helped her on that front. Working with a small crew featuring former ATT coach Din Thomas and Jose “Shorty” Torres, the Canadian, fighting out of Florida, feels prepared for anything.
“Even through my camps, I feel like they try to push me and put me through hard mental situations. And try to break me in those moments,” explained Robertson. “So then when it comes to those moments in the fight, I know that I can persevere and I know I can push through.”
Robertson, still only 25 and a few years away from her prime, has been fighting top competition since she entered the sport. Her first professional fight in MMA was against Hannah Goldy, who is now a UFC fighter. Prior to her own octagon debut, Robertson also faced off with Cynthia Calvillo. All of her losses, with that in mind, have come to UFC caliber fighters. She’s fought the best of the best, right out of the gate.
“I think that’s what developed me as a fighter. What got me to the point that I’m at today is that I just never said no to fights,” suggested Robertson. “I took every single fight that I could and I was just always down to be there. So I took all the opportunities and now it’s taken me places, so I’m thankful for that.”
She’ll no doubt be extra thankful for a win this weekend, which would give her three in 2020. “Three wins this year. That’s the best Christmas present ever.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 17 media day press scrum with Gillian Robertson above.