November 5, 2018

UFC 230: Sijara Eubanks' Weight Issues Leave Her With No Clear Next Steps

By Raphael Garcia

The mixed martial arts world isn't one exactly known for being quick to forgive or forget, and Sijara Eubanks finds herself in no position to receive either anytime soon. The highly ranked women’s flyweight contender picked up an important victory when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 230, but that win will not be enough to change the narrative surrounding her and the whole ordeal she experienced in recent weeks. In fact, she may find herself in a position that’s more detrimental than where she was before everything began to unravel for this event.

To recap, Eubanks was originally scheduled to face Jessica Eye at UFC 232, but when the UFC needed someone to fight Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant 125-pound championship after Nicco Montaño was stripped of her title, they first considered Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231, but pivoted to Eubanks for a possible main event fight at UFC 230. However, the backlash from fans and media was swift and brutal, so when circumstances allowed it, the Boston native found herself out of that fight, as the UFC decided to re-book Shevchenko vs. Jedrzejczyk for UFC 231, even though Eubanks had a signed contract for the title bout.

In response, Eubanks went on a tear, ripping into everyone, from UFC President Dana White to commentator Joe Rogan and anyone else who questioned whether she deserved to be in that position. Her diatribes did well in garnering attention for the 33-year old fighter, as any type of attention is important for the women on the UFC roster. And reportedly, after a profanity-laced phone call with Dana White, she was promised a title shot against the winner of the UFC 231 bout, provided she could get by Modafferi. Eubanks had set herself up for what could have been a big moment at UFC 230 if she performed impressively in the Octagon, especially gave fans a few choice quotes in the postfight interview.

Unfortunately, all of that went up in smoke when she missed weight on Friday, weighing in at 127.2 pounds. The criticism was swift and loud, as this was the second weight-cutting debacle for Eubanks during her UFC tenure. The first incident pulled her out of the title fight with Montano at The Ultimate Fighter Season 26 Finale, when she was hospitalized with kidney failure. With this most recent incident, she has now been unable to make weight for two of her three UFC fights, and that doesn’t look good for someone who is attempting to jockey for a title shot.

The response to Eubanks missing weight came from a lot of different directions. Some pundits pointed out that she blew a big opportunity to impress decisionmakers within the promotion. Her fellow fighters – from competitors within her weight class to organizational newcomers like Ben Askren – blasted her for being unprofessional. Fans, as they frequently do, went even further, claiming that Eubanks should be cut from the promotion. When questioned about how the organization would respond during the post-fight press conference, Eubanks herself was unsure:

“I know how the game is. When you miss weight, it bumps down that ‘deserve,’ whether or not you’re next in line factor. So, we’ll see.”

Missing weight is something that happens frequently on UFC cards, but the consequences are far from consistent. (Let's not forget that Yoel Romero missed weight for an interim title fight, but still fought Robert Whittaker for the UFC Middleweight Championship his next time out.) There’s no telling how harsh the UFC's reaction to Eubanks missing weight will be, but few would be surprised if the organization decided to go with the winner of the upcoming fight between Eye and Kaitlyn Chookagian, which will also happen at UFC 231. After all, Eubanks, who doesn’t quite fit the “mold” of women’s fighter that the UFC tends to promote, doesn't receive the same kind of promotional or fan support as some of her pretty blond roster mates, so perhaps it's unreasonable to expect the UFC to commit to getting her on a fight poster the way they have done for the sometimes model Shevchenko.

Leading up to her fight with the fan favorite Roxanne Modafferi, Sijara Eubanks seemed to embrace the role of villain as a way to transform fan disdain into something more marketable. And based on the issues leading up to the fight, her “beef” with White and Rogan, and even missing weight on Friday, Eubanks may have gained herself a degree of notoriety that would have been missing if she just showed up and won the contest. It will be interesting to see how the organization books her in the future, as the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt is very skilled in what she does within the Octagon, but missing weight is a no-no. This will be an interesting story to watch unfold.

UFC 230
Sijara Eubanks vs. Roxanne Modafferi: Sijara Eubanks def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis took place November 3, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

Click HERE for more UFC 230 Post-Fight Analysis

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