‘I closed myself in’: Georgian ‘She Wolf’ opens up on heartbreak of UFC axe
Hugely popular Georgian UFC star Liana Jojua has revealed her anguish at being dropped and described the difficult build-up to her second successive defeat, adding that she could turn to a secondary career in music or film.
Despite missing weight by almost three pounds, 'She Wolf' was still allowed to take on 9-9 Cortney Casey, who outclassed and beat her by unanimous decision on a UFC Las Vegas card headlined by Max Holloway's thrilling Fight of the Night points victory over Yair Rodriguez in mid-November.
After her third defeat in four fights following TKO losses to Sarah Moras and Miranda Maverick in 2019 and 2020 respectively, UFC president Dana White decided to cut the 26-year-old to the dismay of her legion of supporters.
A month on from being fired, Jojua has shed light on the parting of ways and said it was "immediately clear" to her that she would be dropped by the promotion following her loss to Casey, calling the departure "difficult" for her morale.
"For a week or two, I practically did not use the phone – I closed myself in and did not go out anywhere," she explained to BetCity.
"Only a week ago I began to get out of this state and was able to think about the future and make plans again. Of course, now my condition is much better."
Jojua addressed the issues that saw her criticized for her significant miss on the scales ahead of her final UFC appearance.
"Let's start with the fact that the preparation lasted quite a long time and turned out to be very difficult," the 26-year-old explained.
"The first fight with Cortney Casey fell through due to the fact that I did not have time to get a visa.
"When I was preparing for a fight for the second time, I had to go to Moldova for three weeks [and] look for a gym there to continue training.
"Then, unexpectedly, I learned that immediately after Moldova I had to urgently fly to America due to visa problems. In the end, I ended up in Las Vegas and continued to train there."
"During preparation, I received several injuries. About a month before the fight, I injured my eye and could not exercise for a week.
"After another couple of weeks, my lateral ligament of my knee was torn. Because of this, I could not fight normally in training.
"By the time of the fight, nothing bothered me, but I could not carry out the preparation properly due to a series of injuries."
Jojua was then asked to rate her performances in the elite promotion, and talked of how it was a "difficult stage" of her career where she "felt a lot of pressure both in the media and professionally".
"The UFC is the best organization in the world, [with] the best fighters and the most media attention," she said.
"I think this was a good period in my life. I've learned a lot. After working on myself, I will try to return to the UFC. Then everything will be different. When I signed with the UFC, I was just 23 years old.
"Some people do not even dream of being in the UFC at this age, and I already have such a serious experience behind me. I have enough time to work on myself and get back there."
Jojua had an offer to star in a film by British director Guy Ritchie. "This film was shot in Turkey," she revealed.
"As far as I know, it will be released in a year and I will finally find out what I gave up.
"At that time, I could not take part in the filming in any way because I was flying to an important training camp in America. Naturally, now I would love to feature in it.
Multi-talented Jojua could still turn her skills to drama or try her hand at playing an instrument or singing.
"In addition to sports, I am interested in trying [to test] myself in music or cinema," she said.
"I have a secondary musical education, I feel confident on camera... if I receive new offers, then I will gladly try myself in the cinema."