It is also unheard of (to the best of my knowledge) that any fighter has been imprisoned at gun-point with their family. But that is exactly what happened to Randa at age three, for trying to escape war-torn Iraq during the Gulf War.
Even more unfortunately for the strawweight, once the family managed to cement themselves in Windsor her father enforced a strict, middle-eastern-style household. This included but wasn’t limited to following her closely and ensuring she didn’t hang out with friends. Call it over-protection, poorly-held traditions or whatever you wish.
Despite her father becoming verbally and physically abusive to the family due to substance abuse, Markos somehow managed to keep her head up. Against her parents wishes, she took up wrestling at school. Why? Well, a sense of belonging for starters, but also because her cousins wrestled and would routinely kick her ass whenever they visited, so she wanted to hold her own.
Even though her parents dragged her by her ear out of the gym, she managed to work around that by claiming she was going to play volleyball, and returned to wrestling in secret.
Again, all of this against her father’s wishes, who was embarrassed that her daughter was in a contact sport that is ‘meant’ for males.
This isn’t the only time we’ve heard of a UFC female fighter finding a sense of belonging in wrestling, she has that in common with Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate who wrestled varsity in high school. Hear Tate explain her love of the sport in the below episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.
All of this lead to Markos landing in The Ultimate Fighter season 20, aka ‘A Champion Will Be Crowned’. Coaches Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez along with the UFC are responsible for combing out possibly the most successful batch of fighters this writer can remember since the very early installments of the reality series.
These names include original Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza who defeated Rose Namajunas in the finale. As well we can mention names like: Invicta FC champ Angela Hill, Bec Rawlings, Tecia Torres, Aisling Daly, Jessica Penne, Felice Herrig, Heather Jo Clark, Alex Chambers and Joanne Calderwood. That is an insane amount of talent from one place.
Markos would lose in the semi-final to Namajunas as well as a split decision versus Penne at the finale. A bounce-back unanimous-decision victory over Aisling Daly at UFC 186 primed her for a main-card fight at Dos Anjos/Cerrone 2, which was one hell of a card.
Although she lost to the rising Karolina Kowalkiewicz, she now finds herself having another chance to get where she wants to be. Her fight against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger will air on Fight Pass, which will likely allow for less pressure in front of a home, Canadian crowd, although I’m sure her closest friends will still be in attendance.
Jones-Lybarger lost a unanimous decision to Tecia Torres at UFC 194 in her debut for the company. Therefore, she’ll be looking to give Dana White & co. a reason to keep her with the company.
Both of these fighters routinely go the distance, so don’t expect a lack of stamina to be the difference here. However, the fight stats tell a story that may infer Markos has the advantage in almost every way.
Markos lands nearly half a strike more per minute, but that’s where the small margins stop and become much wider. The Iraqi’s strikes are nearly 15% more accurate (42.1 to 27.4), she absorbs more than two-strikes-less per minute and defends an impressive 60% of strikes, whereas JJL defends just 42%.
The Windsor-fighter appears to have the advantage in stats and experience, having fought much tougher/well-known opponents. With a path much-less-traveled by the average person, there’s no way Markos can’t take this fight on an under-card seriously. Her future in the sport may depend on it.