Coming from the mouth of Gillian Robertson - you know, affable, soft-spoken and quick with a laugh Gillian Robertson – it’s kind of scary to hear her talk about her goals on fight night.
“In the MMA world in general, they’re so concerned that you’re trying to get the fight to the ground and just thinking about wrestling, when my only goal is to get to the throat,” she said. “I’m skipping steps if I have to, but I’m gonna get there and I’ll be there before you’re even ready to defend because you won’t be expecting it.”
She laughs, because that’s her personality. But about that going for the throat thing…
“That’s how I got the nickname ‘The Savage.’”
Indeed, and the results on fight night back up Robertson’s Jekyll and Hyde switch when the Octagon door shuts. In five UFC fights, the 24-year-old is 4-1 with three wins by submission and one by knockouts, though she makes it clear that she isn’t counting her July stoppage of Sarah Frota as a “real” KO. But it was.
“I keep trying to improve on my ground-and-pound and I want to get better and better at it,” she said. “Obviously, I proved that in my last fight. But even then, the goal was a submission. I was throwing strikes until I could get her to turn or move or do something so I could get a submission. I heard the ref say, ‘I need more from you, Frota,’ so I thought to myself, ‘Go,’ and I ended up getting the TKO. But I was still hunting for the submission the whole time.”
More accurately, a rear naked choke, the go-to move that has ended three of her seven pro wins. If Robertson gets your back, it’s most likely game over, which makes her Friday night showdown with unbeaten Maycee Barber a fight many believe will steal the show from some bigger names in Boston. Is Robertson in that camp?
“It’s hard to say that when you’re on a card with Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens unless another crazy accident like what happened in their first fight happens again, but I do look at it because I’m always looking to get that 50k bonus,” she said. “That’s what I drive for. I’ve been pushing for it my last couple finishes but just haven’t done enough to get it apparently. So it is definitely something I look for, but I just go out there to perform and to have fun.”
Winning is fun. Finishing all her UFC wins is even more fun. And all that fun has taken the Niagara Falls native from raw talent to the flyweight top 15 in the less than two years since she competed on The Ultimate Fighter in 2017.
“I one hundred percent saw things playing out the way they have,” she said. “From the beginning, I wanted to be the most active flyweight in the UFC and, no matter what, I’m always looking for the finish, so I knew that was the goal – highest finish rate and most active. And I just want to keep on getting in there until I get to the belt.”
Along the way, Robertson admits that she snuck up on some people, but that’s not going to happen anymore. Or is it?
“I definitely feel like I snuck up on a lot of people and I feel like I’m still sneaking up on Maycee Barber,” she said. “It’s like she’s kind of looking over me. She doesn’t really see me as a threat, necessarily. I feel like she thinks she’s gonna walk through me.”
Robertson smiles, knowing that no one walks through her. She is also pretty certain that this is a fight that won’t need the judges to get involved.
“I definitely don’t see it as one that’s going the distance,” Robertson said. “Maycee has six finishes out of her seven wins, I have six finishes out of my seven wins. There’s no way this is going to a third round.”
That’s a “Savage” prediction.
“I’m not getting paid by the hour in there,” she laughs. “I’m going in and trying to get out as fast as possible. My strongest submission is my rear naked choke, so it’s really just a race to see how fast I can get there.”
So the key phrase for Robertson-Barber is protect ya neck. Robertson agrees.
“No matter what, it’s always in trouble if you’re in there with me.”