It’s been thirteen months since Megan Anderson made the decision to pack up her life down under and head across the Pacific Ocean to take up residency at Glory MMA in Missouri.
Thirteen months of blood, sweat and tears etched into mats where hard work and resolve become the foundation for success inside the cage walls. For Anderson, 2016 couldn’t have gone any better; three back-to-back knock out victories and a meteoric rise from virtual obscurity to one of the biggest drawcards under the Invicta FC banner.
With her next fight looming on the horizon, Anderson is preparing for yet another Christmas away from family and friends. It is a sacrifice she knows all too well but one that she recognises must be made in order to take one step closer to her ultimate goal – becoming the Invicta FC featherweight champion.
“Being away from home has shown me how much I want this life and to achieve my goals because otherwise I would’ve moved back a long time ago when it got hard. I haven’t and I won’t. It’s shown me how much determination I have and what I’m willing to do to achieve everything I want to,” Anderson told Fight News Australia.
Today, exactly 1 year ago I landed in the United States. Since then, I have fought 4 times for @invictafc , I’m on a 3 fight win streak with all highlight reel finishes, I have met some amazing people and made some great friendships. I’ve found a gym that has pushed me day In and in day out, a a coach that I am truly honoured to work with and he guided by. In that time, I have also sacrificed alot; I’ve missed birthdays, events and most of all my family. It has been a year since I last seen the two people who have stood behind me no matter what I chose to do in life, the two people who have witnessed the vast array of emotions and struggles and sacrifices I’ve made to pursue this dream from afar, and the two people who I don’t know what I would do without. Australia will always be my home and the people I love are there, but for now, my path leads me down a long and lonely road to being a champion. If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I will make my family, my friends and most of all my parents proud of the woman, role model, and fighter I have become. Photographer: @bofloresphotography MUH: @amandamiles14
Anderson’s next opponent hasn’t been announced as yet but it is safe to say that current reigning champion Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino won’t be the one standing across from her come fight night.
‘Cyborg’, who is widely considered the pound-for-pound best female fighter on the planet, has taken her last two fights inside the UFC octagon and hasn’t defended her Invicta belt since January. It’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with Anderson who is champing at the bit to get that shiny gold belt strapped around her waist.
“It’s always changing with Cris. Every day it’s something different. There needs to be a definitive stance on whether she is with the UFC or whether she is with Invicta. They need to say 100% she is coming back or no she isn’t. If she doesn’t then it’s really not fair to not put the belt back up for grabs for the girls who are here ready and willing to fight for it. She (‘Cyborg’) decided she wanted to go to the UFC for the big money fights and that’s fine but if she doesn’t come back they need to vacate the Invicta belt.”
Despite the unknown with ‘Cyborg’ and where her future lies, Anderson has no doubt that the two will cross paths eventually. While the Aussie is considered young in the sport of mixed martial arts, only debuting professionally in 2013, she is without a doubt one of the top prospects in the 145lbs division across all promotions. And she’s only getting better.
“I think eventually that fight (against ‘Cyborg’) will happen. As for when, I don’t know, but I think it’s a fight she’d like to take sooner rather than later because of my lack of experience in the sport by comparison. I think she knows the longer she waits, yes the anticipation and interest will build, but it also gives me time to grow and sharpen my skills. It’s a fight people want to see but honestly right now I’m not ready. In the next few years…no doubt it’ll happen.”
As for where she’d like that fight to take place? The UFC. It’s a campaign Anderson and her legions of fans have thrown their weight behind in the last few months and for obvious reasons.
“I don’t want that fight to happen in Invicta. The most anyone has ever gotten to fight Cris is $6k/$6k while Cris was getting something like $45k/$45k with Invicta. The thing is that shit is not going to fly with me. If I’m going to be fighting the pound-for-pound best female in the world – I’m not doing it for $12k. Fuck that. I’m gonna make sure that I am taken care of as well.”
The UFC currently only accommodates two women’s MMA divisions – bantamweight and strawweight both of which have become hugely popular in the last three years lead in the most part by the ever polarising figure that is Ronda Rousey.
The argument from the UFC and naysayers in regards to bringing a featherweight division to the promotion is that there isn’t enough talent readily available to make it feasible but Anderson calls bullshit on that. She claims that if you build the division with a champ like ‘Cyborg’ at the helm the talent will come and it’s hard to argue with that logic. How many people knew Joanna Jedrzejczyk before she became the UFC strawweight champion? Now she is one of the most popular fighters in the entire promotion, male or female. Anderson also argues that opening up more divisions within the UFC isn’t just about showcasing women’s MMA on a larger scale but also about fighter’s safety.
“I feel like them not giving women at all weights and sizes the ability and platform to showcase their skills is utter shit. It’s not just the 145lbs it’s 125lbs as well. There is amazing talent in that division – more exciting than 135lbs and 115lbs but there’s no opportunity. You’ve got girls fighting out of their weight class doing extreme cuts – look at Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau getting down to 115lbs. That extra 10lbs is insane – it’s not healthy and it’s dangerous to have these big gaps in divisions. As a 125lbs fighter you can go up to 135lbs and lose size and strength or you can cut down to 115lbs and kill yourself to do it. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.”
There’s no doubt that there is an appetite for women’s MMA like there has never been before and with emerging stars like Anderson garnering a following the equivalent of their male counterparts it’s only a matter of time before a platform like the UFC becomes available, or at the very least the likes of Bellator will begin throwing their weight behind building a genuine division which highlights their talent on main cards instead of tucking them away on the prelims.
While the future is never far from her mind, Anderson’s focus is firmly set on 2017. The knock-out artist plans to string together another stretch of impressive victories to add to her burgeoning resume and most importantly continue to excite the fans and match-makers alike.
“I feel like I’m putting on performances they (Invicta FC) will be happy with. I finish fights and fans want to see that. I consider myself an exciting fighter and I want to continue to build a fanbase and have people tuning into watch me on the promotion. 2017 is my time to do that.”
Fans can follow Megan’s journey on the following social media platforms: