December 12 was going to be just another day for Randa Markos. She was competing for the UFC for the first time, but after five previous fights on the local circuit in Canada and three more on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, the “Quiet Storm” assumed she was ready.
“I didn’t think I was going to be too nervous after The Ultimate Fighter and having one fight after another,” Markos said. “I was trying to think of it as just another fight, but I threw up three times before I got into the ring, and I didn’t realize how nervous I was.”
Markos laughs, now knowing just what being in the big show can do to you.
“This is your dream and it’s finally coming true. You’re in the UFC for the first time and obviously you’re going to be nervous. But I think I handled it all right other than throwing up.”
She did, going three fast-paced rounds with fellow TUF 20 castmate Jessica Penne before losing a close split decision. The bout won Fight of the Night honors, but that was little consolation to the 29-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, who takes her defeats a little harder than most.
“I was really disappointed,” she said. “But I felt like my stand-up was good and she couldn’t submit me. She’s a great grappler and so different from anyone else I’ve ever grappled. She’s very lanky, very flexible. When I got mount I thought that was it and it was going to be over, but she flung her legs over and grabbed my arms, and I was like ‘whoa, what the heck is this?’ She’s got a very unique style that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and I definitely need to work on grappling somebody like that for the future, because hopefully I’ll get a rematch. It was a good fight and a tough fight; I felt like I beat her on the stand-up, and I think I should have focused more on my wrestling, which I didn’t do during that fight at all, and that cost me a lot.”
As soon as Markos got home to her husband and family, she was back at her day job in a local pharmacy, keeping to her credo that she doesn’t want to have to rely on her fighting income to pay her bills. Of course, a sizeable cut over her right eye from the Penne fight garnered her some interesting looks.
“They (her co-workers) watched the fight, they knew that I had a huge cut on my face, but they were completely supportive,” she said. “They’ve been following me through this whole journey and they have a lot of respect for me. Some of the customers were staring at me (Laughs), but a lot of them know that I’m a fighter, so they don’t mind.”
As a fighter, one determined to win and get better while retaining a humble attitude, Markos has become one of those rare athletes that has the fans on her side regardless of the final outcome on fight night. It’s a byproduct of her hard work that she is thankful for.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I didn’t expect everyone to react that way. I love it, and it just motivates me even more. I try my best when I go in there, and I fight my heart out, and people see that. They see I’m not going to give up easily and I think that’s why people like my style. It’s amazing to go back to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and see all these people supporting me so much and having all this positive feedback, especially from a loss I was so disappointed in.”
And one she hopes to avenge. Not in a “bad blood” fashion, but just because she wants to erase the memory of her losses from her head, and the only way you can do that is to beat the person that beat you.
“I just want to get better,” she said. “There’s no need for revenge. I’m just not satisfied. I’m not satisfied with Jessica, I’m not satisfied with Justine (Kish), and hopefully I will get my chance and I’ll be able to prove to everyone that I should have won that fight, and you’ll see a whole new person in that cage next time.”
Sounds like a busy 2015 is in store for Markos, and it’s something she admits that she couldn’t have pictured in January of 2014.
“It was just crazy,” she said of 2014. “I don’t know how else to describe it. A year ago, I would have never seen myself in the UFC. With The Ultimate Fighter, it was a last minute thing that I found out that they were having tryouts, and I went there and tried out and now I’m in the UFC. It’s been an amazing, amazing year, so many things have happened, and I’m hoping that next year will be even better.”