ByAshley Yoder, writer at
Ashley Yoder, UFC Strawweight, TUF 23 Alumna, Team Quest
Ashley Yoder

Less than three years into my professional MMA career, I’m finally making my UFC debut, this Friday, December 9 at .

It’s an amazing honor to fight on the second UFC card in New York and take on Justine Kish, a fellow alumna of . And while all fighters would love time for a full training camp, I’m fresh off a win at Invicta 20. The timing couldn’t be better, and it’s pretty indicative of how my entire career has played out thus far.

When I first started training MMA, it was a passion of mine, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. And before I had any stand up or Muay Thai in my arsenal, I had already fought current UFC fighters like Cortney Casey and Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger on the amateur circuit.

Following those fights, I moved from my home in Indiana to Temecula, California to train with Dan Henderson at Team Quest. I knew I needed to take my training to the next level, and Team Quest is really where I started to become well-rounded.

Training alongside UFC fighters like Dan and Sam Alvey, and my coaches Gustavo Pugliese and Pantcho Feliciano, I finally earned a couple of wins as an amateur. That’s when I decided it was time to turn pro.

Well, that’s just part of the story ...

Going pro wasn’t necessarily a decision I made. It was more of an impulse.

The UFC had just announced that they were going open up a 115-pound division and were considering doing an all-strawweight season of TUF. They would eventually acquire a big chunk of the Invicta strawweight roster for the show, but knowing that there was a slight chance that I could try out of for the show and make the UFC, I immediately turned pro.

I never knew when the opportunity was gonna come again, and I didn’t even think I was ready to go pro, but I kind of just did it. And, it was a good decision on my part because I was starting to fight professionally -- getting paid to punch people in the face was way more appealing than paying for people to punch me in the face.

Regardless if I was ready or not, I took a huge chance, and that became a huge catalyst for my development as a fighter. And even though I didn’t make it onto The Ultimate Fighter 20, I did earn my way into the TUF house this year. That certainly helped me get on the matchmaker’s radar, especially for a short-notice fight.

And that’s really what matters here. Staying ready, and being ready is really what got me to where I am. Now, I’m just hoping Justine and I can put on a Fight of the Night and win that bonus.


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