Mixed martial arts champion.
The internet has been abuzz the past couple weeks about the possibility of Granger making history by being involved in UFC’s first ever intergender fight.
A listing of the card for UFC Fight Night 165 on Dec. 21 in Busan, South Korea, on Google included a bout between Alexandre Pantoja, the fourth-ranked men’s flyweight in UFC, and Granger, The Herald’s 2018-19 Woman of the Year in Sports. From blogs to Twitter to Instagram, people speculated on the veracity of the listing.
Now, I know one can’t believe everything one reads on the internet (sorry bosses!). But at least one online MMA outlet contained an article announcing the Pantoja-Granger bout as the first intergender fight in UFC history.
So, is Granger about to become the first woman ever to step into a UFC cage with a man? I decided to go to the source to find out.
“I want to make it very clear, I am not fighting in South Korea on Dec. 21,” Granger said when I caught up with her last week. “I don’t want any of my fans to buy any tickets to the event or buy the pay-per-view. I’m not fighting a man, I’d never fight a man.”
So where did the notion that Granger was going to fight a man originate? It turns out the explanation is as simple as a typo.
Granger goes by the nickname “Danger.” So does men’s UFC fighter Matt Schnell. Whoever or whatever was responsible for inputting UFC data into Google got mixed up because of the nicknames, and as a result Granger was listed as Pantoja’s opponent instead of Schnell. It took weeks for the error to be corrected. Even as of Tuesday, though the name had been changed, Granger’s photo still appeared next to Schnell’s name.
When Granger saw all the hullabaloo she had a good laugh. But Granger also is trying to make a name for herself as a UFC newcomer, and she has a naturally playful personality. Therefore, she decided to have a little fun — and gain some attention in the process.
First, Granger took to Twitter with a tongue-in-cheek post that read: “THE FIGHT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT,” and included the link to the article about it being UFC’s first intergender fight. Granger still doesn’t know whether the article was serious or a parody.
“I had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “I’m pretty low on the totem pole in UFC, so any publicity or controversy is good for me. Even if it’s fake, it gets my name out there, and it goes with my personality anyway, I like to be fun and joke around.”
Not everyone caught Granger’s irony.
“My grandma freaked out,” Granger said. “She called my mom and was like, ‘UFC is not going to let my granddaughter fight in a cage with a guy!’ My mom had to explain that it was a mix-up.
“I received some messages saying they hope I’m being safe and smart, and some of my friends were confused,” Granger added. “It was all funny to me.”
All of this happened while Granger was lobbying for her next UFC fight. Granger made her UFC debut in August when she defeated fellow UFC debutant Hannah Goldy by unanimous decision. Since then she’s been itching to get back in the cage, and she targeted UFC 245 on Dec. 14 in Las Vegas and veteran UFC starlet Paige VanZant, who’s ranked 15th in UFC among women’s flyweights.
Therefore, Granger seized upon the intergender confusion and used it as ammunition to further her agenda of facing VanZant on an upcoming card. She took to both Twitter and Instagram, posting mischievously: “Because of all the emotional distress of falsely getting thrown into this intergender fight against (Pantoja), I should be compensated by getting to fight December 14th and/or January 18th. Only fair (UFC).” She included side-by-side photos of herself and VanZant in the posts.
As of Tuesday Granger was still waiting for her machinations to bear fruit.
“Things are still in the air,” Granger said about the status of her next fight. “I don’t think I’ll be getting a fight in December, but there are some cards in January I could fight on. I don’t care if it’s (VanZant), but why not represent the Northwest? She’s from Oregon, I’m from Washington, and she’s a good fighter, someone I’ve followed through most of her career. Why not call someone out and make a big move?”
As for the intergender fight controversy, that’s beginning to die down. But what would Granger say of she were approached about participating in a real intergender fight?
“Most of my training partners are guys, so I guess I have intergender fights every day,” Granger said. “But when it really counts, I don’t think so. I’m going to stick to beating girls up for now.”
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.