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Cortney Casey Knows She's Close

Arizona Stalwart Puts Pieces Together, Settles Into Flyweight Division

Cortney Casey didn’t expect to get a call to return to the Octagon as quickly as she did.

“I didn’t think I was going to get a turnaround given the outcome of the last fight and how boring it was,” explained the Arizona-based flyweight, who was submitted by Gillian Robertson in the third round of a grappling-heavy affair in June. “But I was extremely happy to take the fight because I personally wasn’t pleased with the fight, in general.

“I haven’t gone back to watch it because I was bored during the fight, so I’m happy to go out there and fight someone who is known for putting on good fights.”

That opportunity comes Saturday night in Las Vegas, where Casey will make her third appearance since the restart against Brazilian Priscila Cachoeira.

“I have a tough opponent ahead of me — someone who can take a beating; her name is ‘Zombie Girl’ for a reason,” she said of Cachoeira, whose UFC debut saw her land on the business end of things against current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

DALLAS, TX - MAY 13:  (L-R) Cortney Casey punches Jessica Aguilar in their women's strawweight fight during the UFC 211 event at the American Airlines Center on May 13, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Casey vs Jessica Aguilar, UFC 211, 2017 (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Two additional losses followed, but the unrelenting Parana Vale Tudo representative continued to press forward and collected the first UFC victory of her career in her last appearance, a 40-second knockout win over Shana Dobson in February.

“She’s decent everywhere and she’s known for her standup,” Casey continued in her assessment of Cachoeira. “She comes from a good camp — (former strawweight champion Jessica) Andrade’s camp, who just made her debut at ’25 as well — so I’m excited for it.

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“She doesn’t like losing. She tries to win wherever the fight goes and that’s how I am as well, and I think that will make for a good fight.”

Unfortunately for Casey, losing has been a more common occurrence for her than winning since she arrived in the UFC in the summer of 2015.

Entering Saturday’s contest, the 33-year-old sports a 9-8 record overall and a 5-7 mark inside the Octagon, which stands as one of the most deceptive, and misleading records in the promotion.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 20:  Cortney Casey fights Randa Markos of Iraq in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC 202 event at T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Casey vs Randa Markos, UFC 202, 2016 (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

“People are often like, ‘Look at her record, why is she still in the UFC?’” explained the durable veteran, who does her best to avoid “reading the comments,” but gets sucked in from time-to-time like everyone. “It’s like, out of 13 fights, at least 10 of them have been short notice, they’ve all been top contenders, I’ve never turned down a fight. And before the last one, I’d never been finished.

“I’m not getting beat up,” she added. “I’m not going in there and getting demolished; I’m right there ‘til the end and most of the time I feel like I’m the one doing most of the damage, and yet I’m not the one getting the wins. I’m trying to win the fights and my opponents are trying to survive.”

She has a point.

Casey arrived in the UFC with a 4-1 record, then dropped back-to-back unanimous decisions to Joanne Calderwood and Seohee Ham, both of which earned Fight of the Night honors. She won three of her next four, then landed on the wrong side of split decision losses to Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson in consecutive outings, with the scoring of the second contest landing in stark contrast to how armchair judges saw the fight.

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The frustrating results still never prompted a step back in competition, as Casey split her next two appearances against Angela Hill and Cynthia Calvillo before deciding to relocate to the flyweight division earlier this year. After securing a Performance of the Night bonus for her debut submission win over Mara Romero Borella in May, she hustled right back into the Octagon and landed on the wrong side of things with Robertson.

At no point has she lobbied for a step back in competition or turned down an opponent, and neither are things she ever envisions herself doing in the future, either.

Cortney Casey celebrates after her submission victory over Mara Romero Borella of Italy in their strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 16, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Casey celebrates after her submission victory over Mara Romero Borella during the UFC Fight Night on May 16, 2020 in Jacksonville, FL (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“It’s easy to pick your opponents. You have that choice, but it’s not the choice I wanted,” said Casey. “I never wanted to be like, ‘Oh, I’m 10-2 and I fought bums.’ I never wanted to do that. I’d rather be where I’m at now knowing that I’ve fought the top girls in the division, both divisions. My last fight was the first time I’ve ever been finished in the UFC; it was my 13th fight.

“A lot of my fights have been close, so it’s not like I’m far off; I’m just missing something,” she added. “I think that’s the frustrating part is knowing that you’re that close and it’s just by a few points that you’re missing these wins and possibly being in the Top 5, fighting for belts, and things like that.”

Now readying for her third appearance as a member of the flyweight ranks, the former collegiate soccer standout is starting to feel more settled in her new surroundings. While she still sees a road to bouncing between divisions, it’s no longer about going back down to strawweight.

“I feel like I definitely have a little more growing into that division as far as weight goes,” admitted Casey. “I’m physically as tall as most of the girls in the division, so height isn’t a problem; it’s just putting on the size and I want to make sure I do it right. This will be my third fight in six months, so there’s not a lot of time to strictly focus on strength and conditioning, but I feel like this will be the best I’ve looked at ’25 and I think we’re on the right path.

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“I think it’s starting to feel a little bit more like home,” she added. “I don’t think the world is going to be changing any time soon and with everything going on as far as my camp goes and things like that, I’d rather not have to battle a weight cut. I’d rather focus on what I need to improve than stressing my body.

“I don’t know that I could make that cut right now,” she said of returning to the 115-pound ranks, which she held out as a possibility at the beginning of her flyweight adventure. “It would have to be a full camp, and normally I’m not getting those, so I’d rather take these fights at ’25 as they come. I’ve even told them, ‘If you need a short-notice ‘35er, let me know; I’ll fight at ’35.’”

Her willingness to step up another division, to fight even bigger opposition on short notice again highlights why judging Casey by her record is a mistake, and why questioning her place on the roster is an even bigger one.

Cortney Casey punches Angela Hill in their womens strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pinnacle Bank Arena on August 25, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Casey punches Angela Hill, August 25, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Six years into her UFC career, Casey has established herself as a perpetual tough out whose talents aren’t accurately reflected by her results.

Casual fans may question why a fighter with more losses than wins continues to frequently make the walk to the Octagon, but the hardcore set knows she could just as easily be 7-5 or better if things had broken her way once or twice.

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And now, as she prepares to make that walk again, Casey does so with the same “take it as it comes” approach that has gotten her to this point.

“I feel like I’m ready to be in that spot where things start going my way,” she admitted. “I handle it all well, so I don’t know if that’s why I keep getting dealt these adversities in life and inside the cage — because I can deal with it — but hopefully with this fight and this new contract I can string some wins together and go on a tear, but you never know what life is going to throw at you, so I’ll just keep rolling with the punches.

“No one is owed anything in this sport, at all, and bitching about it does nothing either, so I’d rather get my fight done, go home, enjoy my family, and wait for the next call against whomever it is.”