From the moment Miranda Granger decided to take her mixed martial arts career professional, she knew she wanted to use her sport as a vehicle to see the world.
In December that process achieves another benchmark, as Granger’s next fight is going international.
The Snohomish native and rising women’s MMA star’s second UFC fight is taking her across the Pacific Ocean as she faces Brazilian Amanda Lemos as part of UFC Fight Night 165 on Dec. 21 in Busan, South Korea, the promotional outfit announced Friday.
“I’m really excited,” Granger said. “I said from the beginning of my career that one of the cool things about being a professional fighter was getting to travel the world while doing what I love. This will definitely be further than I’ve ever traveled, and I don’t know that I ever would go to South Korea in any other circumstances. The fact that I’m traveling there and get to do something I’m really passionate about is killing two birds with one stone.”
Granger, who fights out of Charlie’s Combat Club in Everett and is 7-0 as a pro, is a late replacement for Venezuelan Veronica Macedo, who withdrew because of injury. The fight will be a strawweight (115 pounds) bout scheduled for three five-minute rounds. It is part of the event’s preliminary card, which starts at 11 p.m. Pacific Time and will be televised live on ESPN. The main card is headlined by a men’s featherweight bout between Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung.
This is the second straight fight Granger is taking on short notice. In her UFC debut Granger had just two weeks notice before beating fellow UFC debutant Hannah Goldy in August, a fight that was contested at flyweight (125 pounds). This opportunity, which is back in her usual strawweight class, came together in a hurry as she was first approached Wednesday afternoon before signing the contract Thursday.
“Anyone who follows me on social media has seen that I’ve been pushing for a fight,” Granger said. “My manager has been in the matchmakers’ ears, so when this came up and Veronica got pulled, I think my name was at the top of their list because we’ve been so persistent in wanting to fight. I’m taking it kind of last minute, four weeks is not typically what I’d want to make (weight at) 115. But I’ve been training and ready in case something like this did pop up.”
Granger being on this card comes with an element of humor, considering it’s the same card in which an online mix-up had some people believing she was fighting a man in UFC’s first intergender fight.
“It is funny,” Granger said with a laugh. “I’m a little worried because Matt Schnell (who shares the “Danger” nickname with Granger, which created the confusion) is on the card, and that’s two times in a row we’ve been on the same card, so I feel there may be even more name mix-ups after this one.”
Going international has one drawback for Granger: She won’t be able to take her beloved French Bulldog, Kala, who traveled with her to all her previous domestic fights.
“I’ll have to Facetime her before I go out,” Granger said.
As for Granger’s opponent, Lemos is a bit of a mystery. Lemos (6-1-1) hasn’t fought since July of 2017 after serving a two-year ban for steroid use. Lemos’ last fight was at bantamweight (135 pounds), meaning she’s coming down two weight classes.
“I’m looking at that as an advantage,” Granger said about not having any recent video of Lemos to study. “She’s been out of the ring for two years and I’ve been doing nothing but fighting the last two years, so I have that ring recognition while she may have a little ring rust. Even if she doesn’t, I don’t care. I’ve been an all-natural athlete all my life, and she’s coming in there fighting clean for the first time.
“I just think people who use substances have already lost because they don’t believe in their natural ability,” Granger added. “I’m going to go in there and prove the way I’ve been doing things is the way it should be done.”