The Ultimate Fighter 20 alum Justine Kish (6-1) returned from a lengthy layoff to face Felice Herrig at UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Lee last June. In that fight, Herrig controlled the action and gave Kish the first loss of her professional career.
Tonight she takes on Ji Yeon Kim at UFC on FOX: Jacarè vs. Brunson 2 in Charlotte, NC; a city she is very familiar with. Kish lived in and around Charlotte during her grade school and college years before moving to Los Angeles.
Kish moved back to the Charlotte area last year to train and look after her mother following a health scare. Before making that move she spent time in Japan taping an upcoming television series with the Discovery Channel.
“It’s been a little bit hectic the last few months,” admitted Kish to Bloody Elbow, who was offered the fight with Kim while she was in Japan. Kish accepted the fight right away, but it was originally booked for UFC 220 in Boston, MA.
After seeing that UFC Charlotte was the next show on the schedule, Kish had her management remind the promotion that Charlotte was her home city. Both the UFC and Kim were fine with re-scheduling.
Preparing for Kim has been “a bit crazy” according to Kish. However, the former Muay Thai fighter has decided to term her new living and training conditions as “a different kind of normal,” and she is feeling confident heading into her debut flyweight bout.
Kish’s opponent is also making her flyweight debut, having debuted in the UFC at bantamweight last June. Kim lost that fight to Lucie Pudilova via unanimous decision. Against Kim, Kish is hoping to put in a much better performance than she exhibited versus Herrig last time out.
“I just hope that I don’t make any of the mistakes I made the last fight,” said Kish. “The last fight was just a blur. The hardest thing after a loss like that is that I can’t just jump on a plane and go compete somewhere. I’m under contract, so I have to wait for months and months before I can compete again. I had no injury, I could have competed the next weekend and just addressed the mistakes that I had made. But it sucks that the memory of those mistakes starts to fade before you get a new challenge. That’s difficult.”
Kish would relish the chance to correct her mistakes by facing Herrig again in the future, but she thinks it’s highly unlikely that she’ll get such an opportunity.
“I don’t think she’s ever going to do a rematch with me,” claimed Kish. “I would love it. I have a feeling she dodged a bullet, because I just couldn’t get going. I couldn’t get warmed up. I came into fight week 17lbs over. That was Wednesday. By Friday I had made weight and I was very proud of myself. The weight cut was good. In my mind I was good, but people had said, ‘You know, you look a little off,’ on fight day.
“Fight day I usually want to stay active, but I all I wanted to do was sleep and recover and save my energy. I felt different, kind of lethargic. My body was recovering from 17lbs, but that was never in my mind. And then I watched the fight and I was like, ‘Oh my god, looks like I never fought in my life.’ And with Felice winning via unanimous decision, and with the incident, I don’t think she’s ever going to want to do a rematch, as much as I would love it.”
Though Kish believes she did not give Herrig the kind of opposition she believes she is capable of, she did have some praise for the top ten strawweight.
“She’s definitely improving,” offered Kish. “They played it very safe in there. She was well coached. But I just wanted to go in there and brawl and fight, but it was smart for her to keep me pinned down. I could even hear her coaches saying, ‘It’s ok, I know it’s boring, but keep her there.’ It wasn’t a whole lot of fighting, it was just pinning down, and that just drives me crazy: I just want to fight.”
You can see if Kish gets the kind of fight she wants tonight on FS1. Justine Kish versus Ji Yeon Kim is the second fight of the FS1 prelim show. That portion of the card begins at 5:00PM ET.