It wasn’t the under the circumstances she had envisioned, but Sijara Eubanks had her hand raised in victory at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Eubanks was briefly set to headline UFC 230 in a match against Valentina Shevchenko, but the UFC pulled the matchup when the new headliner of Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis came together three weeks ago.
So Eubanks instead ended up fighting popular veteran Roxanne Modafferi, in a bout which was contested at a catchweight 127.2 after Eubanks missed the flyweight limit Friday. But despite the draining weight cut, she still had enough left in the tank to gut out a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 30-27 across the board.
“She’s been in a ton of fights, she’s a tough fighter, but I knew that going in,” said Eubanks.
Eubanks set the tone in the opening round, scoring a takedown and working for the bulk of the round in top position. In the second, Eubanks again came out strong, but also appeared to start tiring out as the round went along, a notion which seemed to be confirmed when Modafferi ended up on top following a scramble.
Modafferi did her best to push the pace in the third, but Eubanks was able to answer as the pace picked up. Eubanks wobbled Modafferi with a head kick and never lost control of the tempo.
After the fight, Eubanks said she’s not ready to decide whether to stay at flyweight or go up to bantamweight.
“I take full responsibility, I’ve been working with the UFC PI,” she said. “I’ve been working really hard but things happen. Idon’t know yet, I really want to fight, it’s been an up-and-down roller coaster 30 days.”
Eubanks has now won two bouts in a row and is 4-2; while Modafferi (22-15) has dropped two of her past three.