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Mixed martial arts fans will forgive all manner of misbehavior from fighters, both in and out of the cage, as long as a fight takes place. But that hasn’t stopped fans from thinking differently about Germaine de Randamie, who faces Aspen Ladd in the main event of UFC Fight Night card on Saturday that you can live stream.
Here’s what MMA fans will forgive: Embarrassing losses, boring performances, poor effort, steroid use, light racism, not-so-light sexism, questionable technique, doubtful conditioning, missed weight, DUIs, domestic violence, eye pokes, groin strikes, punches after the bell, chokes held a second too long—just about anything can be excused.
What the MMA community won’t readily forgive is the belief that a fighter has dodged a fight. Cowardice is the unforgivable sin. When fans decide that a fighter has squirmed his or her way out of a match with a frightening opponent, that fighter’s reputation is shot. Which is what happened to de Randamie in 2017 when she refused to defend her UFC featherweight title against the woman everyone knew was actually the best featherweight in the world at the time, “Cyborg” Justino.
De Randamie (8-3) claimed that her reason for denying Justino a title shot was the Brazilian’s dodgy history with performance-enhancing drugs. She said Justino was a cheater who didn’t deserve to fight for the UFC belt. But fans assumed de Randamie was simply afraid of the beating she would surely take at Cyborg’s hands and looking for a way out. Quickly that narrative, true or not, hardened into fact: Germaine de Randamie was a coward who wouldn’t fight the best female fighter in the world.
Fans attacked her online (as fans will do) and the UFC, bowing to pressure, stripped her of the belt. Unfair perhaps, but that’s the deal fighters make: Accept your fate and fight a menace, regardless of the circumstances, and you’ll be admired forever for your courage. Beg off such a confrontation, regardless of your reasons, and shame will cling to you.
Two years later, de Randamie is still trying to get herself clean. After a long injury layoff, she beat bantamweight contender Raquel Pennington last November to move into the top contender spot in the division, and if life were fair, she would be next in line to fight champion Amanda Nunes. But de Randamie knows just how unfair life can be, especially a fighter’s life, so instead she’ll be seeking some redemption this Saturday at the expense of Aspen Ladd (7-0), who has the best war cries in the sport but is still a relative unknown.
Ladd may not be the big name de Randamie needs to get her own name back, but nothing cleans up a fighter’s reputation like winning. And the return road to legitimacy has to lead somewhere.
Here’s everything you need to know to live stream de Randamie vs. Ladd.
UFC Fight Night Sacramento: Germaine de Randamie vs. Aspen Ladd
- When: Saturday, July 13 at 8pm ET
- Where: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California
- Streaming: ESPN+
UFC Fight Night Sacramento: Watch UFC on ESPN+
UFC Fight Night Sacramento is being broadcast on ESPN+—the streaming service which, as of March 2019, signed a seven-year deal with the MMA organization to be the exclusive home of UFC PPV telecasts and nearly two dozen UFC Fight Nights per year.
- Cost: $4.99 per month or $49.99 for 12 months
- Devices: Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku players and TV, Oculus Go, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Samsung smart TVs, and iOS and Android devices
ESPN+ is a great way to consume combat sports content. ESPN+ recently halted its free trial, but the service only costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 for the entire year, and you’re also allowed to cancel at any time. Given how much you receive, that’s a considerable deal.
You’ll be able to watch the entire 30 for 30 catalog on-demand, for example, as well as Top Rank boxing, daily MLB games, every out-of-market MLS game, international soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and thousands of college sporting events. ESPN+ works an extension of the main ESPN app. The ESPN+ exclusive content is designated by the “E+” logo in the corner of the preview tile.
UFC Fight Night Sacramento schedule
All times ET.
Main Event | 8pm on ESPN
- Germaine de Randamie vs. Aspen Ladd
- Urijah Faber vs. Ricky Simon
- Josh Emmett vs. Mersad Bektic
- Karl Roberson vs. Wellington Turman
- Marvin Vettori vs. Cezar Ferreria
Preliminary Card | 5pm on ESPN
- Mike Rodriguez vs. John Allan
- Andre Fili vs. Sheymon Moraes
- Julianna Pena vs. Nicco Montano
- Darren Elkins vs. Ryan Hall
- Liu Pingyuan vs. Jonathan Martinez
- Livinha Souza vs. Brianna Van Buren
- Benito Lopez vs. Martin Day
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Josh Rosenblatt is the author of "Why We Fight," published by Ecco, and the former founding editor of Fightland. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.