Stepping up as a last-minute replacement is never easy, and it can be more so unsettling when you’re doing so on a huge card full of some of the top stars in the sport, but that’s what Lauren Taylor did at the recent Invicta FC 5 card.
Stepping in for an injured Amanda Nunes, Taylor faced the toughest competition of her career in 135-pound veteran Kaitlin Young. She overcame her nerves and walked out of the cage with a unanimous decision victory.
“Obviously there’s a couple things I need to work on, but for it being my Invicta debut and taking such a jump up in competition, the only thing I really have to complain about is that I didn’t finish her,” said Taylor. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying – I was trying – she’s just a super-tough opponent and has been in the game a long time so I can’t complain too much.
“My coaches and I had a game plan and I followed it to the best of my ability. It certainly took Kaitlin out of her element and put me in mine. That’s what makes my coaches so great is that they’re fabulous at figuring out things, and if they draw it up, I execute it.”
Though she exuded confidence in the fight, underneath the surface Taylor was anything but placid.
“I’m always nervous before I fight, but for me, I was nervous and I was scared,” she said. “Also, I’ve never felt this before a fight, but I was really honored. It was a humbling and honoring experience to go in and fight somebody like Kaitlin; she’s such a veteran in this sport.
“I was also star struck the whole week. I can’t believe this kind of stuff is happening to me and around me. I got to meet all of my MMA idols and all these girls who I never thought I’d be on their level. I think I came to Invicta and proved that I’m at that level and I belong there. I may not be in the Top 10, but I’m on my way and I’ll be there very soon.”
Now that she’s made her initial mark in Invicta, Taylor told MMAWeekly.com that she can’t wait to see what happens next.
“Janet (Martin, Invicta matchmaker) has been in touch with my manager already and I hope to fight again in Invicta in July, but I’m not sure against who I would be fighting yet,” she said.
“Their roster of 135-pound fighters is very deep and super-talented, so the matchmaking that Invicta does is incredible. It’s fair, everybody gets tested and I’m really looking forward to the next challenge they can come up for me.”