Mizuki Inoue was uncertain whether or not her bout at UFC on ESPN 8 against Tecia Torres on March 28th (local time) would push through after the state of Ohio took a major step in its approach to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Headlined by a heavyweight contest between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, the aforementioned event was originally slated to take place at the 20,000-capacity Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Earlier this week Ohio governor Mike DeWine issued an ordinance banning all large gatherings of 100 or more people in a single space in the state. Inoue admitted that this was a major blow,
“I was really worried. Of course, I trained hard for this fight. To me, a win in this fight could be beneficial to my career and could break me into the rankings. But at the same time, I was concerned with my health and the safety of my team. There were a lot of things going through my mind,” she said through her translator.
The UFC subsequently opted to relocate the card in its entirety from Columbus to Las Vegas. For Inoue this news came as a huge relief,
“I am happy. I will be able to show what I’ve worked for in the gym. But the work isn’t done yet. I have to stay healthy before and after the fight. It’s a responsibility that we as fighters should take seriously in order to prevent the virus from spreading,” she stated.
UFC on ESPN 8 is now scheduled for the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, which is home to Dana White’s Contender Series. The date will remain the same although it will take place behind closed doors.
Inoue is based full time in New York where she trains at Longo-Weidman MMA. She is very familiar with Torres who has been on the UFC roster since 2015,
“Two years ago, she was probably better than me. Right now, I that feel we are at the same level if not closer,” she explained.
However Inoue is adamant she is not underestimating an opponent who is already a veteran of 11 UFC fights,
“To be clear, I am not underestimating her. I expect her to be so motivated in this fight. She should expect the same thing from me.”
This fight will see Inoue return to 115lbs. Her opponent is ranked #13 at strawweight and the Japanese fighter is looking to make a statement in Las Vegas,
“I am not sure if I can finish her, but of course, I want to. She is a big name, and I want to finish her. Even if I beat her and make it to the rankings, that’s actually not good enough. I am looking for a good way to beat her, so I can leave a profound impact.”