Aspen Ladd says recovery is “much more difficult” than expected

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LAS VEGAS – When she last entered the Octagon 19 months ago, Aspen Ladd looked destined to fight for a UFC title in the very near future. But following a called off fight with Julianna Pena, then knee surgery that left her on the sidelines for most of a year, Ladd says she is only focusing on the task. immediate to accomplish.

“It almost seems surreal to be finally back after so long,” Ladd told MMA Junkie during a media day at UFC Apex.

Ladd (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) makes her long-awaited return to the cage at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 27, where she takes on Macy Chiasson (7-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in UFC Apex. The fight serves as the card’s main co-event, which airs on ESPN and airs on ESPN +.

She admits the return to the cage was more difficult than she initially imagined.

“Before the surgery, you think, ‘I’m going to be back as soon as I can, as soon as I can be cleared,” Ladd said. “When you go through it and after, it’s like,’ I’ve got the ‘feel like I come back when it’s stable and never have to do it again. ”So (it was) a lot harder than you might think before I started.

Ladd said her coach Jim West helped force her to be patient during recovery and not rush back into action. Once she was ready, however, Ladd said she asked for the best opponent available, which ended up being Chiasson.

“There were a few opponents before her, and one of them… I couldn’t be ready for a certain date, and she wanted to fight earlier, so you can definitely respect that,” Ladd said. “However, she hasn’t fought since then so I’m not sure if she got hurt or what. Then we were looking for Pena’s fight because we were supposed to fight her twice before I got hurt. , but we all know what happened with that one. So after that, it was like, ‘Who in the top 10 doesn’t have a dance partner and will basically want to throw?’ and Macy came over. It was like, ‘Alright, let’s do this.’ “

While Chiasson expressed some frustration that Ladd may have chosen her for this fight in hopes of getting an easier test when she returns, Ladd, 26, said it wasn’t the case.

“It is legitimate; she’s going to be a tough opponent, ”Ladd said. “I think she’s ready to get involved everywhere. I think she will strike. She will struggle. She’s going to drop out, and she’s pretty good at it all, so I think she’s not afraid to jump into any of the different facets of MMA.

Ladd enters the contest at No.3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports / MMA Junkie women’s bantamweight chart and is still part of the title image in the division. But with so much time out, Ladd said she can’t think of things like standings and title shots just yet. There is business to be taken care of on Saturday night.

“Whenever I have a fight it’s the end of the road, the end of the line, nothing exists beyond that,” Ladd said. “I’m not thinking beyond Saturday night right now.”

But make no mistake about his preparation for everything to come, Ladd said. She may have been sidelined for 19 months, but the delays are now over.

“If I wasn’t ready to be 110% back now, if I had one question in mind, I wouldn’t be back,” Ladd said.

To hear Ladd’s full interview, watch the video above.

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