Kay Hansen was two weeks shy of 16 years old and had drawn a full map of her life. Play softball at an Ivy League school, preferably Harvard, and become a criminal psychologist.
And she was on her way to do it. Playing travel ball, scoring exemplary grades at La Habra and Whittier Christian High Schools, doing well on the PSAT.
And then it happened Ronda Rousey.
It began in August 2015 with the build-up to Rousey’s bantamweight title defense against Bethe Correa in the backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hansen was curious.
And when Rousey knocked out Correa in 34 seconds, the challenger went berserk as Rousey’s pro-Brazilian crowd, Hansen bowed out.
“Watching that fight live was when I was like, ‘I have to do this,'” said 22-year-old Hansen. “Two weeks later, I’m at the gym. And I haven’t left the gym since.
“Within a month, I’m literally leaving high school for full-time training.”
Hansen continues his pursuit of his dream, this time as one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster in front of a home crowd at the Honda Center, making his flyweight debut against Jasmine Jasudavicius at UFC 270 on Saturday.
This would mark Hansen’s third fight in the UFC, although the last two were in the 115-pound strawweight division. Moving up to the 125-pound division with taking a year off to overcome an eating disorder.
A fight scheduled for last March had to be canceled because, says Hansen, his body was essentially falling apart, leading him to the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas for extensive testing.
“I had to pretty much undo what I had been through for a couple of years — and mentally and physically. And for me, the hardest part was training, and fighting in particular, was always kind of my outlet or my therapy, You know what I mean, that’s why I was so active,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“In that early part of my life, like 18 to 20. I was going through a lot in my personal life. So to me, I was like, fight, fight, fight, fight, you know what I mean? And that was my match. But it was doing so much damage to my body.”
Hansen (7-4), who trains primarily with the classic fight team at Fountain Valley, says it felt good to clock in at 130 pounds on Wednesday, two days before the weigh-in. And on Friday morning, she was stepping up the scale at 125 pounds.
Full Result: https://t.co/kdmcYCmft1 pic.twitter.com/leQrZ5WDvQ
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) 21 January 2022
Waiting for the 5-foot-2 Hansen—”to be fair, I’m shorter in both divisions,” she said—is a true flyweight. Jasudavicius (6-1), who stands 5-foot-7, will make her UFC debut in September on Dana White’s Contender Series by defeating Julia Polastri via unanimous decision.
Hansen says he didn’t explore his Canadian rival much, leaving it to his coaches. He is more focused on what he has to do.
“Like every other opponent in the UFC, I’m looking forward to an uphill battle,” Hansen said. “I’m hoping for the best version of her just because, like, I’m the best version of myself, so I shouldn’t expect anything less.”
UFC president Dana White, whom Hansen asked to move this matchup back a week so he can fight closer home, is eager to see what the hometown fighter can do.
“She’s won six of her last seven victories. And, you know, she’s got some submissions, some knockouts. She can do it all,” said White. “She’s young and up-and-coming. She has won once in the UFC. So it’s a big fight for him.”
Hansen, who turned pro in 2017, made his UFC debut in June 2020 with a third-round armbar win over Jin Yu Frey, earning him a performance knight bonus of $50,000.
Five months later, in a battle for 21-year-old prospects and youngest women on the roster, Hansen dropped a unanimous decision to Corey McKenna, all by a score of 29–28, even though Hansen feels he has tried to get his hand. raised enough.
While Hansen is looking to get back into the winning column, he is confident he is on the right track.
“I’m still growing as a person. And as an athlete. So for me, of course, I felt like I personally won that battle. But I consider it a loss in my book.” Kind of don’t agree,” said Hansen. “No one walked out of the fight saying, ‘Well, you’re not good or like you needed an enemy. It was like, ‘That was a great fight. I thought you won. Even if you didn’t think I won, you didn’t think it was a bad fight, you know?
“And I’m fine. I’m in the UFC. I’m where I want to be, you know what I mean?”
Where: honda center
how to see: Preliminary Exam (3 p.m., ESPN+); Preliminary Exam (5 p.m., ESPN/ESPN+); Key Card (7 p.m., PPV via ESPN+)