At the onset of fight week, Macy Chiasson posted a quote on her Instagram page:
Don’t take my silence as sleeping.
I’m confident. I’m grounded.
The battle is almost over but the war is just beginning.
“I just got really inspired to share that—I’m not the kind of person to throw everything of what I’m doing out there—for me, the buildup [to the fight] is the mental preparation, fine-tuning the little things before I go. I’ve never been a really big social media person in that way, but I just wanted to let people know that just because I haven’t said anything doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything.”
Fighting in the pandemic era posed innumerable challenges on every facet of the game, and nobody knows it better than TUF 28 winner Chiasson. As she arrives to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas for her second fight this year, there seems to be a palpable sense of relief that she’s back in business.
“With fighting, the biggest thing is always being able to make it to the fight. Especially during COVID. It’s been really rough for everyone in sports in general.”
Illness and injuries forced a 13-month lapse between the Louisiana native's Octagon appearances, slowing the roll of one of the bantamweight division’s most promising talents. Like nearly everyone in the world, a return to routine is just what the doctor ordered.
“This time was a little bit smoother. You’re always going to have your ups and downs with injuries and stuff like that, but it’s been a pretty solid camp. We’ve put in a good 12 weeks. I couldn’t ask for a better time and opportunity. I feel great.”
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Part of feeling great ahead of a huge co-main assignment Saturday vs Aspen Ladd is the balance she’s struck in her training, surrounding herself with personalities that complement her own.
“There’s a few people on my team. I have my coach from Fortis, and then I have my coach Shawn Gayton from Mid City MMA. Sayif Saud is a very strong, Type-A personality and Sean is very much the balance. That dynamic has really helped me out a lot. For me as a person, in general, I need a little bit of both. I need someone who is going to push me and be like ‘Hey, you’ve got to suck it up a little bit’ or ‘F*** that, let’s push harder.’ And then I have someone who’s like, ‘Let’s pull back. Let’s focus.’ So having that dynamic on my team has been a really, really big deal for me. It’s helped me get this far.”
A notorious gym rat with a bottomless work ethic, Chiasson’s challenge has often been finding the balance between going hard and overpreparing.
“I just want to get better at everything, that’s the problem. That’s what puts a lot of anxiety and pressure on me. I’m always looking to get better in jiu-jitsu, but I will say my boxing has really gone up. It’s gone to different levels. It’s not even just the boxing because I know physically there’s a lot of things I can do, but it’s the mind-body connection that I’m really starting to enjoy and have fun with. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I feel like I’m at a point to where I can make those connections. That’s a hard thing to make when you’re new into something because there’s so many emotions…but I’m really starting to feel that at this point.”
If her March defeat of Marion Reneau had the feel of a torch-passing in the bantamweight division, her matchup with Ladd at UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw feels like a preview of the future: two fighters you fully expect to see amongst the elite for the next five or more years, two fighters who will meet for the first time Saturday, but probably not for the last time.
“This fight with Aspen is an opportunity for me to showcase certain things. People really like her, and she’s done a lot for the sport. She’s a phenomenal fighter. Getting a win like this and really dominating…it’s definitely going to open up a lot of eyes for me. People are going to start to see the true potential. I’m not here for clout, I’m here to be a true fighter. It’s what I love to do. And she’s the same way, she really is.”
The similarities run deep. Chiasson is on the eve of her 30th birthday, Ladd is 26. Both boast only one professional loss to an established veteran. Both are ranked in the Top 10. The next generation has arrived.
“What I’ve really noticed studying her is the mentality. Even if she ends up in a bad spot or she’s losing the fight, she finds a way to reverse things and turn things around. I’m a lot like that in a way, too. I think that this is going to be explosive.”
That’s perhaps the safest bet of the night.
“I feel like I’m right where I need to be. I feel like everything has a purpose. The loss that I’ve had, had a purpose. Those are all things I reflect on. I try not to stay in the past but be present, in the moment. I think I’m right where I need to be.”