UFC 231: Nina Ansaroff hopeful for title shot with win vs. Claudia Gadelha, but also a 'realist'

Nina Ansaroff does not need the sport of mixed martial arts. Hell, she only started sparring at all as a way to stay in shape. But Ansaroff (9-5) continues to pursue a shot at the ultimate goal of the sport, thanks in part to her partner, and women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.

"Having Amanda around is what probably still has me here doing this sport," Ansaroff told CBS Sports. "There was times before I got called by UFC where I told her 'I want to retire, I want to go work in banking and accounting again and just have a steady paycheck and a normal life. I'll support you and come to the gym with you, whatever you need I'll be there for you.' 

"Going through these small promotions and making $2,000 a fight, it wasn't worth it for me. So I told her and she was like 'Give it some time, see what happens.' And like three weeks later, I got called by UFC. From there, it took off. In this sport, without an opportunity there's not much you can do. With that and her continuing to push me to go to the gym. If I'm not going to the gym that day, but she is, its like 'well crap, I gotta go, we're both athletes.'"

Ansaroff started her UFC career with two decision losses, but never put major pressure on herself to produce results. She stayed true to herself and kept calm while picking up three straight wins over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, Angela Hill and Randa Markos.

"I kinda took the pressure off what fighting was, people get caught up in 'I have to win, I have to do this, I have to get the belt' and I kinda just took it for what it was. If I have a fight coming up, I'm not gonna stress about it. Whatever happens happens. I didn't put pressure on myself to win anymore or train a certain way or do certain things. This started as a hobby, it was a hobby and it continues as a hobby, things just got easier for me."

Now, Ansaroff gets arguably her biggest test to date when she battles No. 3-ranked strawweight Claudia Gadelha. While Ansaroff notes that she considered a move to flyweight before booking this bout, the opportunity to take on a top contender was just too much to pass up. Even if she is successful, Ansaroff knows that there's a lot of other ways to make money in this world and that continuing to take brain damage is not going to help her reach life goals.

"I'm a realist, I know how the sport works, I know the politics involved. If I don't have a run at a title shot, I'm not gonna sit here and take brain damage for things I could make money doing other things for," Ansaroff said. "It's not something for me that it's 'I have to do this, I was born to do this.' Yeah, maybe I was born to fight, but I wasn't born to be stupid. There's a lot of other things that are out there. There's a lot of things in the sport that you don't have to fight. You see those fighters that have been knocked down their last five fights and they're still 'oh I'm still in it.' I'm not gonna be that fighter. I have other things going for me. I want a family in the future, I'm not gonna risk that for the adrenaline of a fight."

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