UFC strawweight Justin Kish spoke about her forthcoming clash with Felice Herrig, whom she got to know during The Ultimate Fighter 20. Undefeated strawweight Justine Kish (6-0) returns to action this weekend against Felice Herrig (12-6) on the main card of at UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs. Lee. Last time out — at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Abdurakhimov — she earned a unanimous decision victory over Ashley Yoder.
Since joining the UFC off the back of The Ultimate Fighter 20, Kish has only had two fights in the promotion; partly because of a torn ACL that was diagnosed during her time on TUF. Her fight with Yoder happened over six months ago. That’s a far cry from competing every weekend, as Kish did when she fought Muay Thai.
But despite wishing she had been more active in MMA since 2014, the Russian-born fighter is actually thankful that it has been half a year since her last appearance in the Octagon.
“I have really appreciated the break between my last fight and this one,” Kish told Bloody Elbow. “Because I was much smarter about my weight cut this time; this is only my third time cutting to 115lbs.”
For her bout with Yoder, Kish missed weight (by 1.4lbs). The fight itself was a back and forth affair which ended with the judges’ scorecards; like her previous contest against Nina Ansaroff.
“The past two fights, yes I won them by unanimous decision, but I’ve actually been very disappointed,” revealed Kish.
“The problem last time was that I just didn’t know how to capitalize on certain moments,” continued Kish who admitted that the multi-dimensional aspect of MMA had at times left her somewhat overwhelmed during competition. “I would freeze up because I couldn’t decide which tools and techniques to use at which time, but I feel I have overcome that.”
‘I was disappointed in how slowly I started and there’s times I just got bored and said, ‘Ok she’s gonna put me on my back, maybe that will make it more exciting.’
Kish also admitted that she made some ‘bizarre’ decisions in the Yoder fight and that she is committed to improving that aspect of her game.
“This is going to sound horrible, but those three rounds went by very fast for me. Maybe I didn’t warm up properly, I don’t know, but I was disappointed in how slowly I started and there’s times I just got bored and said, ‘Okay she’s gonna put me on my back, maybe that will make it more exciting.’ It seems bizarre, but I want things to be exciting and I do get bored in there — bored is a bad word, but I want excitement, I want thrills, I want someone to fight back, I want lots and lots of action, but I’m drilling and training on making better decisions about it.”
Kish also believes that a better managed weight-cut will make a difference in her performance on Sunday evening.
“Things are finally clicking! I don’t have to struggle so much with making weight, so I can enjoy the process of training and developing the tools I really want to utilize in the fight.”
Kish’s opponent in Oklahoma City is someone she knows very well. She and Herrig were teammates under Anthony Pettis during The Ultimate Fighter.
“I saw the way she lived and the way she carried herself throughout the six weeks,” said Kish, who added that, once she was sidelined with an injury, she had a good opportunity to hone in on Herrig, and others, to study ‘how they behaved’ throughout the TUF experience.
Through watching Herrig train and fight, Kish has been left with questions over her attitude and ability to get out of difficult situations.
“I think Felice really struggles with her composure,” remarked Kish. “I can see that there’s times that she gives up. When things don’t go her way, if everything is not perfect for her, she just kinda loses composure. It’s noticeable, so hopefully she has worked on that.”
Kish did mention that Herrig may have changed since 2014 and that her opponent deserves respect for how much experience she has. Even so, Kish is heading into the fight with a great deal of confidence.
“She’s harmless in my eyes and she knows I’m going to give my absolute best no matter what out there.
“She has lots of ring experience; so you can never underestimate her. She knows what she’s doing, I just believe if there is any chance of her beating me she’s just going to have to have an absolutely perfect camp, a perfect day, everything is going to have to be perfect for her.”
I know it’s not above her to act out at certain times or to get attention for the media’s sake. I’m prepared for it and I have some exciting things to throw back at her if it happens.
Herrig currently sits 13th in the UFC’s women’s strawweight rankings. Kish, who is currently unranked, sees the fight as an ideal springboard into the official rankings, as well as the consciousness of UFC fans who might be questioning the match-making.
“I saw people saying, ‘Who’s Justine? Why isn’t Felice fighting a top ten opponent? Who is this girl?’ This doesn’t make sense to me, but I don’t have the following that she does. I love my following, though. The following I do have is genuine.”
Kish said despite what some may think, she believes the match-up between her and Herrig is ‘really creative’ and that it will lead to an exciting fight. She also believes, given what she thinks of Herrig, that there is a potential for action prior to the first bell.
“Felice, her behavior and the way she does things… She does some wild things at the weigh-ins and things like that. I know it’s not above her to act out at certain times or to get attention for the media’s sake. I’m prepared for it and I have some exciting things to throw back at her if it happens.”
Whether or not there’s fireworks before the fight, Kish is hoping plenty of fans will tune in to the FS1 prelims to watch her perform. She’s also hoping to leave viewers satisfied by getting her first stoppage inside the UFC.
“I really really want to get a finish for this fight,” she said. “I will be disappointed if it goes to a decision again. I don’t know whether it will be a knockout or submission, but it is going to be a vicious finish. This is what I want.”