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Aspen Ladd not done at bantamweight but doesn’t see main event as reward: You think they called me first?

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LAS VEGAS – Aspen Ladd knows that not everyone supports her booking in the main event of UFC Fight Night 195, but she thinks many critics probably aren’t considering the full picture of her current situation.

When Norma Dumont (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) found herself in need of a new opponent for the contest, Ladd (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) doesn’t for one second believe she was the primary choice.

“We were the ones that were ready to take it,” Ladd told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex. “I mean, you’ve got to use your brain a little bit there – a little bit of deductive reasoning. After the last one, you think they called me first? No, they called other people, and it’s a dangerous opponent on short notice. Nobody else took it. We did, so we get the opportunity.”

Ladd was scheduled to compete against Macy Chiasson two weeks ago but was unable to make weight for the matchup, officially registering 137 pounds in what seemed a clearly unhealthy manner as she stood on the scale shaking for an extended period of time. Chiasson ultimately elected not to take the fight.

Ladd doesn’t believe she’d make the same decision if the roles were reversed, but she insists she also doesn’t hold any ill will.

“I don’t blame the other fighter,” Ladd said. “I mean, in the reverse of the situation, I would have taken it, but that’s just because also she’s getting a fair chunk of my purse. But everybody reacts to things differently and makes her own decisions, and she chose not to fight – and that’s, as I said, her right.”

While it seemed after the weight miss that a move to featherweight was inevitable for Ladd, few assumed it would come just two weeks later, and much less in a main event. Ladd said her team had long discussed the idea of a move up to 145 pounds and was planning on it at some point in the future, but when the UFC asked her to step in as a replacement for Holly Holm, she certainly wasn’t going to say no.

“As soon as Holly fell out – and I don’t know who they called first, so I’m assuming they probably called other people, but Norma is a dangerous opponent – I didn’t know anything about her,” Ladd said. “I didn’t know it was five rounds. I didn’t know it was a main event. I just knew that Holly was out and the fight was ’45, and it was like, ‘All right, sweet. This feels kind of like fate. Let’s do it.”

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While the scenes on the scale two weeks ago left many wondering if Ladd would be healthy for this fight, even at a higher weight class, the MMA Gold product insists there is no reason for concern.

“I’m not cutting weight to make this fight,” Ladd said. “I’ve been trying to get to ’35 for so long that you get pretty low, and I had not put on much weight by the time they called me for this one. So a couple of days of dieting and no, there’s no weight cut involved.”

Of course, the scale isn’t the only battle Ladd has in front of her this week – nor is fan perception. Dumont is a black belt in sanda and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and her frame is every bit that of a featherweight contender.

While she didn’t know much about Dumont when she accepted the fight, Ladd says she’s excited by the challenge now.

“She comes to bang,” Ladd said. “She throws hard, she throws down, and I think this is a potential ‘Fight of the Night.'”

Will it be redemption for Ladd? She doesn’t seem all that interested in turning the naysayers in her favor. Instead, Ladd simply wants to make a statement in his matchup and then welcomes what might come next, whether it be UFC women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, or perhaps even welcoming potential addition Kayla Harrison to the UFC.

While she’s still not ready to rule out future bantamweight matchups, Ladd sees potential in a featherweight division that has been notoriously thin on names since its addition to the UFC.

“I don’t know, ’45 is very interesting because right now there’s not much substance, but I think they’re about to sign Kayla Harrison, or at least they are going to try to,” Ladd said. “She has her last fight with PFL, and I think they’re going to build the division around her. They want new blood and new faces, so I think over the next couple of years, featherweight, if that happens, will flush out pretty good.”

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