After being booked in January to fight American Sijara (Sarj) Eubanks, Canadian bantamweight Sarah (Cheesecake) Moras has had to bide her time during the pandemic.
That meant training in the garage and living room in her adopted home of Las Vegas until the time was right. That comes Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla., when Moras finally meets Eubanks on a televised UFC card.
It will be the first outing for Moras since Sept. 7 when she defeated Georgia’s Liana (She Wolf) Jojua by third-round TKO at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
Asked in her post-fight interview when she wanted to fight again, Moras replied “Let’s do it tomorrow.”
Instead she was booked for UFC 249, originally slated for April 18 in Brooklyn and then Lemoore, Calif., as the UFC looked for a place to stage the fight during the pandemic.
After broadcast partner ESPN stepped in, UFC eventually postponed the pay-per-view card.
Moras (6-5-0) had just finished her last sparring session April 9 when she looked at her phone and saw UFC 249 had been postponed.
“It’s been kind of surreal,” said Moras, a native of Kelowna. B.C. “But I don’t know. I guess you kind of see it all coming together by what’s going on in the world.”
UFC 249 eventually happened Saturday in Jacksonville, and Moras’s bout against Eubanks was shifted to Wednesday in the second of three cards in a week at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, home of the ECHL Jacksonville Icemen.
The main event sees Anthony (Lionheart) Smith, ranked third among light-heavyweight contenders, against No. 8 Glover Teixeira.
The 35-year-old Eubanks (4-4-0) is ranked 15th among 135-pound contenders. She is 2-2 in the UFC, coming off back-to-back losses to No. 3 Aspen Ladd and No. 13 Bethe Correia.
“I expect her to be a pretty game opponent,” Moras said. “I know she comes out pretty hard in the first round. I know she’s got hard striking and she’s a black belt (in Brazilian jiu-jitsu) on the ground.
“I’m expecting her to be strong everywhere. I’m expecting myself to be stronger.”
Moras, whose UFC career has been interrupted by injuries, is 3-4 in the promotion and had lost thee straight prior to her win over Jojua. A betting underdog, Moras dominated the fight with a 44-19 edge in significant strikes before the referee stepped in with Moras on top, hammering Jojua.
“There’s always room for improvement … I’m excited to show what I’ve learned since then,” said Moras, who just turned 32.
The one negative to the Abu Dhabi win was Moras missed weight, coming in two pounds over the limit at 138 pounds.
“I think I took advice from people I shouldn’t have,” she said. “I listened to people when I should have listened to myself. And then after that, I really took charge of everything and decided not to let that happen again.”
She started this camp 15 pounds lighter than her last few camps.
Moras has had to be creative in training during the pandemic. It helps that Moras’ boyfriend, fellow Canadian Cleve Bentley, is also a fighter and serves as her principal training partner.
“The first few weeks we were training mostly at home or outside,” she said. “And then in the last couple of weeks we actually started going back to the gym with just a coach and Cleve.”
An enthusiastic traveller, Moras went to Dubai after Abu Dhabi — zip-lining off a building and taking a desert safari.
Everyone on the Jacksonville card is being tested for COVID-19 when they arrive in Jacksonville as part of the UFC’s virus protocol. The UFC has taken over one tower of the hotel used by the fighters and production staff.
Moras’s nickname came after a friend dared her to come out to her first pro fight to the song “Cheesecake” by the Muppets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press