Ahead of her big fight with Joyce Lybarger-Jones this Saturday at UFC Ottawa, Randa Markos, aka “Quiet Storm,” talks with Chris Connor about some major changes in her preparation, plus what it was like to train with Georges St-Pierre. Check it out:
Chris Connor: Big fight coming up on Saturday, Randa. How excited are you to be competing in your home country of Canada? Have you made any major changes in preparation for this match?
Randa Markos: I am really excited and happy to be fighting in front of my hometown Canadian fans. I recently moved my training back to Windsor, Ontario and am now working out of Michigan Top Team. My last time fighting in Canada was when I took on Aisling Daly and that night there was a solid group of fans that showed up to support me. But now, yes, I’m very excited to be going back to Canada.
What was the main reason you decided to leave Tristar Gym and head back to Windsor with Michigan Top Team?
It was great at Tristar as they have awesome people there and Firas Zirabi is one of the best trainers in the game. But I just felt I had to take a step back and get back to my roots as I had tried to incorporate a lot of new techniques that I was taught and it backfired on me. I needed to get back to the basics.
At UFC on FOX 17, you took on Karolina Kowalkiewicz and dropped a close and controversial split decision. Is it tough for you to move past that defeat?
I am still throwing stuff at my TV when I watch that match as I feel I performed horribly that night. I felt like I was lost that entire time and I just wasn’t myself. I am usually a grinder and a grappler and while she is a great fighter and I take nothing away from her, I was not myself and I really needed to regroup after that fight.
Many had you winning the fight as you were the aggressor, landing the harder shots and pushing the pace. How frustrating was it for you to hear the scorecards and wonder what the judges were watching?
It didn’t make sense that one judge gave her all three rounds because in the second round I was totally controlling her. But even if I had won, I was not happy at all about my performance that night.
How much of your decision to leave Tristar was based on the fact that you maybe got lost in the shuffle over there, while at Michigan Top Team you have more one-on-one attention?
There are a lot of great fighters over at Tristar, but while they have great coaching and Firas helped me a lot, I felt they didn’t know my game enough and tried to change me too much as a fighter. Obviously I would have gotten better had I stayed there longer, but I feel like Michgian Top Team knows me well enough as a fighter to understand my strengths and weaknesses and help me improve. It was great working with Tristar and it was a blessing to work with my favorite fighter in George St. Pierre, but I feel that Michigan Top Team is a better fit right now.
Your opponent, Jocelyn Lybarger-Jones, last fought at UFC 194 and dropped a tough loss to Tecia Torres on short notice. What does she bring to the table?
I know she is a well-rounded fighter and that she is an RFA Champion. I couldn’t take much from her match with Tecia because Tecia makes everyone fight her fight. But I think she is a tough and well-rounded competitor and I am looking forward to this battle.
Conventional wisdom is that Torres was able to out-grind and wrestle Jocelyn and that you beat Tecia on TUF, so you should beat Jocelyn. Do you feel that is the case or she will be a different fighter on UFC Fight Night 89?
I think that my style matches up well with Tecia’s style and that for whatever reason Joclyn’s didn’t. But I think this fight will be much different because you can’t know for sure how one fighter matches up with another until the fight actually happens.
After a while you must have been bored with just staying around the house and not having a fight to look forward to. I know you loved spending the holidays with your husband and family but how excited were you to get the call for your next fight?
After my last fight I was very upset and pissed off with myself so I’m very excited to get back into the Octagon. That last bout has been bothering me for a while and I want to show I am better than that.
You are no longer wearing your jet black hair and have switched to becoming a full fledged red head. How have the fans handled this new found change and how did your husband react the first time he saw you with your red hair?
At first he was saying “Don’t do it, don’t do it!” But now he’s saying “Oh, I kinda like it!” The red hair was suggested by my sister as it’s a part of my personality that the fans don’t get to see. But also I realized, if you’re a mixed-martial artist, you’re a performer. We go out there on the big stage and perform not just in terms of an athletic competition but in promoting ourselves. I am a fighter but I am also a girl who loves my long red hair and wearing make up and looking pretty. I think most female fighters believe they have to be tough and ‘butch’ all the time but I want to show you can be more than that.
We have seen Paige Van Zandt, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey cross over into movies and modeling. You are an attractive and well-spoken young woman. Could Ronda Markos ever cross over into the TV and modelling side of things?
I have never thought about that before but I love wearing makeup and I would love to try acting down the line, but right now I am focused on my MMA career and don’t want to take away from that.
What was it like training under George St. Pierre? For most MMA fighters this is the equivalent of having Joe Montana as your QB coach, or Michael Jordan as your basketball tutor.
When I first started training MMA he was the guy that everybody wanted to watch. Everybody would go to the bars to watch him fight on PPV, watch him on TV, so the first time I went to Tristar and saw him working out I was in shock. Inside I was like “Oh, wow! This is George St. Pierre! This is the guy I wanted to meet all these years and he is here and he’s teaching me!” I tried to play it cool but inside I was geeking-out because here was a guy that I always looked up to and wanted to meet and it was really a dream come true. — Chris Connor