Aspen Ladd dismisses title talk in 'very strange' division ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 13

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aspen Ladd admits the precarious state of the UFC women’s bantamweight division makes it easier to keep focus solely on Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 13 main event with Germaine de Randamie.

From all appearances, the matchup between 135-pound contenders Ladd (8-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and de Randamie (8-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) will determine who next challenges champion Amanda Nunes (18-4 MMA, 11-1 UFC). One of the headliners sees the division as slightly more complicated, though, and knows she needs to win to keep part of the conversation.

“I haven’t really considered anything past this Saturday,” Ladd told MMA Junkie at UFC on ESPN+ 13 media day. “Germaine is the No. 1 contender so there’s certain indications there, but at the same time, 135 is a very strange division right now. We have a lot of higher-ranked women coming back from pregnancy or injury, we have a two-division champ who wants to go back and forth, so who knows where it’s going to go.”

UFC on ESPN+ 13 takes place at Golden1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. The entire card streams on ESPN+.

It’s been easier for Ladd to limit her thinking about the implications of this weekend’s fight because of the compacted training camp. Ladd is fresh off a unanimous decision win over Sijara Eubanks at UFC on ESPN+ 10 in May and got a quick turnaround for her first UFC headliner.

Ladd admits that while the matchup didn’t surprise her, the timeline did.

“It was nine or 10 days after my last fight and they called and said, ‘OK, Germaine (is the next opponent),'” Ladd said. “I was expecting that. Then they said, ‘In six weeks.’ Then they said it was going to headline Sacramento and I said, ‘OK, let’s do this.’ I’m pretty excited for it.”

Ladd, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, thinks the matchup with No. 4-ranked de Randamie is logical given the divisional pecking order. It’s a big fight for her, though, as it marks her first career showdown with a former UFC champion.

There’s a more than 11-year age difference between the two competitors, but Ladd thinks she’s already good enough to make up for the difference in experience.

“Germaine is a world-class striker and she’s good at that and she’s been doing that as long as I’ve been alive,” Ladd said. “So that is definitely where she excels. I just have to go out and execute my game plan better than she does.”

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 13, check out the UFC Schedule.

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