For a short period of time, Sijara Eubanks was primed for her moment in the spotlight at UFC 230.
Eubanks was briefly scheduled to face Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant women’s flyweight title in the headliner of the promotion’s third card at Madison Square Garden before the UFC elected to call an audible. Due in large part to heavy criticism, a hastily put together heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis was tabbed as the new main event, while Shevchenko was moved to a 125-pound title bout against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 on Dec. 8.
Eubanks, meanwhile, suffered the consequences of the card shuffling, as she was moved to the preliminary bill against “The Ultimate Fighter 26” castmate Roxanne Modafferi. Eubanks made the most of her night, beating Modafferi by decision for a second time (the first win was officially an exhibition on “TUF 26”).
“I thought it was a good fight. I really appreciate Roxanne taking the fight on short notice and putting on a show with me,” Eubanks said. “I knew I was the stronger fighter and I just used that to my advantage. I had her hurt, thought I had her finished at a couple of points but all respect to her. She’s tough as nails and came to scrap.”
While the victory was a positive, scale issues continue to plague Eubanks, who missed weight for her matchup with “The Happy Warrior.” The Team Lloyd Irvin representative notably made it to the finals of “TUF 26” but a bad weight cut caused her to miss the chance to vie for the inaugural flyweight belt against Nicco Montano at the finale of the reality show.
Despite yet another mishap on the scale, Eubanks was adamant that she belongs at the top of flyweight division. With two consecutive UFC triumphs under her belt, “Sarj” has her sights set on facing the Shevchenko-Jedrzejczyk winner for 125-pound gold in the future.
“I’m the one who deserves to fight the winner of Valentina and Joanna. Make no mistake, I will be there on championship weight,” she said. “I’m a grinder and I’m just going to keep grinding and beating my opponents until there is a gold belt strapped around my waist.”