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J.J. Aldrich: Controlling nerves allowed me to be new fighter at UFC Fight Night 124

ST. LOUIS – J.J. Aldrich was a victim of the infamous octagon jitters in her UFC debut, and she lost. In her third fight with the promotion at UFC Fight Night 124, she said those nerves were channeled in a positive way, and she got the win.

“I think I was able to control and bring those nerves (in),” Aldrich told MMAjunkie following her unanimous decision win over Danielle Taylor. “Thinking back to even my debut with the UFC, all the nerves and the thoughts going through my head compared to today was just completely different. I felt like a new fighter in there.”

Aldrich (6-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) outstruck Taylor (9-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) over the course of three rounds at Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 124 event, which took place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The strawweight bout streamed on UFC Fight Pass prior to the remainder of the card on FS1.

The performance marked Aldrich’s second consecutive UFC win after dropping her debut. It didn’t come easy, though. The 25-year-old did not get a very favorable style matchup. At 5-feet tall, Taylor is the shortest fighter on the UFC roster. Moreover, she’s a counter-striker with a lot of speed, and therefore difficult to put hands on.

Aldrich, 25, was able to time Taylor well and land some solid punches and kicks during the 115-pound contest. She said she knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but managed to effective implement the strategy put together by her team.

“I thought we executed the game plan we came up with and I was able to keep Danielle at bay with her speed and her power crosses,” Aldrich said. “She caught me once really good in the third. Other than that, I felt like I was able to move and avoid the punches like I need too.

“Everyone was like, ‘You’re so much taller than Danielle. Danielle’s so short – she has to fight you,'” she continued. “It’s like, ‘No, Danielle’s been fighting tall people her entire career.’ It’s my first time fighting someone that I’m so much taller than. It was more of a change for me than her. But she’s super tough and I know she’s really fast. Obviously she’s got knockouts, so she’s very dangerous, but I felt like I was able to do my game plan.”

UFC Fight Night 124 marked Aldrich’s return to competition after an inactive 2017 campaign. She fought just once this past year, but after getting a win so early on the calendar, she said the hope is for a busy next 12 months of competition.

“I really want a big year,” Aldrich said. “I only got to fight once last year. It was mid-year, so it was like every six months. I’d like a decent turnaround. A little bit of a break, but I want to stay active and get good wins and work my way up.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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