UFC fighter Rachael Ostovich told TMZ Sports on Thursday that she is "grateful" to take part in Fight Night 143 on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Ostovich will face Paige VanZant in a flyweight bout.
"I'm feeling so grateful to be here," she told TMZ Sports. "There was a point where I wouldn't have been here."
Per ESPN, Ostovich suffered a broken orbital bone on Nov. 18 after being attacked in Hawaii, according to her manager Brian Butler-Au. Her husband, MMA fighter Arnold Berdon, allegedly perpetrated the attack, per Hawaii News Now.
The owner of a 4-4 professional record, Ostovich is coming off a defeat to Montana De La Rosa, who is UFC's 15th-ranked flyweight. Ostovich hung with the 9-4 De La Rosa for nearly the entire fight before losing by submission with 39 seconds remaining in the final round.
VanZant (7-4) fought in the UFC's strawweight division for four-plus years before moving to flyweight in January 2018. In her flyweight debut, she lost to Jessica-Rose Clark by unanimous decision. VanZant has not fought since.
The bout is clearly important for both competitors. VanZant explained to Marc Raimondiof MMA Fighting why this match could be the biggest of her career:
"This one is more important, I feel, than any fight. This one is as just as important as my very first fight in the UFC ever. I need to show everybody who I am and why I belong in the UFC. I feel like fighting is a career where athletes are easily forgotten. If you're not in front of the crowds, then people don't remember your name. I've been out for a year and I still have those fans who have stuck by me. But I need to show everybody and the new fans of the UFC why I belong there. I feel like this is the fight I have to prove myself with. And of course it couldn't be at a more exciting time, being the first ESPN card, being able to fight in New York."
Ostovich spoke with Mike Bohn and John Morgan of MMA Junkie about what the fight meant to her as well: "I want to get the win," she said. "I need to get the win. I feel like it's my only option at this point, and it's the only thing I've been envisioning, and I want to manifest that. Honestly, I already feel like I won. Just being here I feel like I won. That joy, I take it with me in there. I'm just so excited."
Per OddsChecker, VanZant is a -162 favorite (bet $162 to win $100) at most sportsbooks. Ostovich checks in as a +125 underdog at the majority of betting locations.