Miranda Granger is preparing to step back into the UFC octagon. But as determined as the mixed martial arts star from Glacier Peak High School may be to bounce back from her first defeat as a professional, she’s also grateful to be able to fight at all.
Granger steps back into the ring on Aug. 8 when she faces Australian Nadia Kassem as part of UFC Fight Night 174 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. When she does it will be first fight since undergoing a harrowing physical ailment that threatened her career and perhaps even her life.
Granger, who fights out of Charlie’s Combat Club in Everett, suffered her first loss when she was choked out by Amanda Lemos on Dec. 21 in Busan, South Korea. In the aftermath Granger didn’t feel right, and a Christmas morning trip to the emergency room discovered blood clots that had traveled to her lungs.
“The doctors believe I got (a blood clot) in my leg on the way to South Korea, just from being dehydrated because I was cutting weight,” Granger said via cellphone from Las Vegas, where she’s been taking periodic trips to prepare for her upcoming bout. “I had a really bad pain in my leg, even leading into the fight. I don’t think it had anything to do with the way the fight ended, but I had this pain in my leg, and then I got kicked a lot in the leg during the fight. On the plane ride home my leg was swollen like a big log.
“On Christmas morning I woke up with mild chest pain, I felt wrong, so I rolled over and told my husband, ‘I think I’m dying,’ ” Granger continued, noting that the comment stemmed from her tendency to be a hypochondriac. “We went to the emergency room, they did a CAT scan and they found multiple blood clots had traveled into my lungs. If one had broken away, Christmas wouldn’t have been fun for anyone.”
Granger was on blood thinners for three months. While she was able to work out, no contact was allowed. She is now fully recovered and has been cleared to resume full activity.
“At the time I think I was so down about my loss that it didn’t even seem like a concern for me,” Granger said about the situation. “I posted something on social media, telling fans why I wasn’t fighting, and I got so many messages telling me how bad it could have been. I guess I didn’t know the severity of it at the time before I got the messages. I could have lost my life, which is a little more important than losing a fight.”
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Some of you know what’s been going on, but for those who don’t I thought I would fill you in! After returning home from my fight I had some serious pain in my calves that I had been dealing with through the week that had gotten progressively worse on the flight home, and even worse with the days following being home. Christmas morning I woke up with some mild chest pain and an unusual cough. I am a classic hypochondriac, so the first thing I did was wake Kaden up with an over-reactive “I’m dying”…well turns out that actually was the case! The pain in my calves turned out to be blood clots. After some testing in the ER Christmas morning, I found out that the blood clots had traveled into my lungs. Luckily we caught it in time before one of the clots broke loose and something serious happened. I want everyone to know that I am ok, and I’m on medication that will hopefully clear everything up very soon! No contact sparring until I’m cleared, but other then that I am training and living life just like normal. 2019 has been such an incredible and unpredictable year. Through all of these crazy experiences, I am nothing but thankful for my family, my husband, my faith, and everything that’s in store for 2020. I love you all, #dangeroustimes ahead!! 💙👊🏼
While the battle with blood clots forced Granger to the sidelines for a stretch, it also gave her an opportunity to reflect her loss to Lemos, which was the first of her career as either a pro or an amateur.
“I think I started to lose track of who I was as a fighter and why I was successful,” Granger said. “I think I was fighting to win instead of fighting because I love to fight. I think trying to keep that undefeated record was a little overwhelming for me. I remember being in the cage and thinking, ‘I need to do this,’ and my body wasn’t responding. My brain was telling my body to do something and my body wasn’t doing it, I was a little off and a little behind. I think taking my last two fights at the last minute (Granger’s first two UFC bouts came on short notice, meaning she didn’t have the standard amount of time to prepare) meant I wasn’t mentally able to go to war. I lost track of that a little bit.
“With the down time, even getting the blood clots, it made me take a step back and realize the reason why I’m fighting is because I love it,” Granger continued. “No one cares about me losing as much as I care about it. I needed to let it go, learn from it, move on and mentally be stronger. I believe I am, and I’ve overcome a lot of things I was battling with that I wouldn’t have dealt with if not for some time off. So I’m really excited to get back in there.”
Granger (7-1) gets her chance for redemption against Kassem (5-2) on Aug. 8. The bout will be fought at strawweight (115 pounds) and is scheduled for three five-minute rounds.
Granger is ranked as the 38th-best female strawweight in the world by Tapology.com. Kassem, who lost her past two fights, is ranked by Tapology.com as the 65th best female flyweight (125 pounds) in the world.
“I know she is super aggressive,” Granger said of Kassem. “She’s definitely the true definition of a fighter, she goes in there super tough with a lot of heart. I’ve see her getting a little beat up, but staying in there and fighting, so I’m excited about that. I want someone to push me to the next level, someone I can really show my game to. My whole career — I think this is my 19th fight — I still don’t feel I’ve fully shown who I am. The better the competition, the more likely something like that will come out. I’m predicting it will be a war, I don’t think she’s going to quit. Some of my opponents came in and they kind of broke, but I don’t see that in her. I think we’re both going to go in there and want to rip each other’s heads off. I think it will be fun.”
The Granger-Kassem fight is part of a nine-fight card headlined by a men’s heavyweight bout between Derrick Lewis and Alexey Oleinik. The event will be held without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is being televised by ESPN+.