Canadian UFC flyweight Gillian Robertson packed up and made the move further south in Florida recently, joining a new gym— The GOAT Shed Academy.
The move “was 100% for the gym. I’m now halfway between my main gym, and I go up North to work with Din [Thomas] still,” Robertson told Cageside Press in a recent interview. “I moved to an ideal location where I’m a 45 minute drive either way.”
The move was very much about finding a team, something that Robertson believes has paid off. “I’ve honestly just really enjoyed, one being able to have a team, and just being able to go there and work hard every single day with that group environment.”
That’s something she was missing in the past. “I feel like this is a change that’s really going to make a difference in my game.”
We’ll know if that’s the case soon enough. Robertson (10-7) returns to action this weekend at UFC Vegas 60, where she takes on Mariya Agapova — a replacement fighter for a replacement fighter, as it turns out.
Agapova took the fight on eight week’s notice, mind you, which is plenty of time for Robertson.
“Eight weeks out, I’m not even thinking about the fight yet. I’m just training. I feel like if you’re thinking about somebody that long — I got the fight I believe on 16 week’s notice. If I’m thinking about somebody for 16 weeks, it’s just going to drive me crazy,” Robertson stated. “I try not to even think about the fight until we’re say like six weeks out. And then we can really start focusing on the opponent and really start game planning more. But when I’m eight weeks out, I’m still just focused on making myself a better fighter.”
Before Agapova was Melissa Gatto. Before that, Robertson revealed, “I want to say it was Karine Silva I believe. I’m not 100% sure. I only had her for about a week; we had that match-up and I signed a contract and it didn’t even get released yet and then she pulled out because of an injury. And then Gatto was able to step up real quick.”
Of course, Gatto then pulled out as well, leading to the Agapova match-up. That’s just part of the fight game, and makes it something of a positive that Robertson doesn’t game plan for opponents from day one.
“It’s just such a touchy game, I feel like anything can happen at any moment,” Robertson pointed out. “Even when me and Taila Santos fought, that week I was supposed to be stepping in the cage with Andrea Lee, and it got completely changed up. So you really never know what’s going to happen, you just have to be ready for any moment.”
Agapova is someone that Gillian Robertson is intimately familiar with. The pair have trained together in the past, though Robertson isn’t reading too much into those encounters.
“I feel like you have to take everything— you can’t take it as it is. Because it’s a completely different scenario once you step into the cage,” she explained. “Whenever you have a weight cut involved and whenever you have people watching and the big lights and everything, the pressure adds so much more and can effect the fighters so much more. So you never really know how they’re going to perform, how they’re going to feel, if they’re going to have a good weight cut.”
And so, Robertson added, you can’t base how the fight will go on what happened in the gym. “A lot of people can be gym warriors, they can beat everyone in the gym but they can’t put it together on Fight Night. So you never really know how someone’s going to show up.”
Robertson herself is not immune from that pressure and nerves, of course. They even come with sparring in the gym.
“It’s something that I feel like that you’ve got to kind of embrace. If I’m sitting outside the cage and I’m watching rounds and I know I’m next, I have those nerves. But once I get in the cage, I really just embrace that moment. You have to realize that you need those nerves to perform. That you’re about to get into a fist fight. If you didn’t have any nerves, than you should be worried.”
Agapova has a couple of submission wins in the UFC, but for Robertson, who thrives on the ground, getting some “throat cuddles” is the path to victory.
“I think that’s the clear way to victory for me in this fight,” Robertson told us. “I definitely want to play on the feet a little bit more, I feel like my striking is always a thing I’m always trying to improve on the most and make myself well-rounded. I feel like my wrestling has really come along these last couple months, I’d really like to display that as well. But I think there’s a clear advantage for me on the ground.”
Of course, the Canadian would be happy to secure a win in another fashion.
“I always say this and then end up getting the choke, but I would love to display my ground n’ pound. I would love to get a TKO. I’ve been working on that so hard, and I really feel like my wrestling and my ground n’ pound these last few months have really improved a lot. So I would love to be able to display that, but people keep on falling into my chokes. If it comes, it comes.”
Gillian Robertson faces Mariya Agapova this Saturday, September 17, 2022 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.