In picking up a split-decision victory over Brittney Cloudy at LFA 83 in March, little did bantamweight Hailey Cowan realize it would be her last fight for six months.
Shortly following her win, Cowan was spending time with family when it became clear that things were about to change not only for the sport of MMA, but for the world as a whole due to the novel coronavirus lockdown.
“During the fight I had no idea; I didn’t know what Covid was; it happened right after,” Cowan told MMAWeekly.com. “I went and visited my sister right after the fight because it keeps me away from the gym for a week, and my mom said we need to come back (home) because something was going on.
“We didn’t know what was going on (at the time); we just knew it was chaotic.”
For Cowan, the lockdown was oddly conveniently timed. It allowed her to get healthy after struggling with injuries, which had helped play a part how she fought against Cloudy.
“I was not pleased with my performance,” said Cowan. “I didn’t really stick to the game plan. I was battling some things. I was not happy with myself, but even in an off day when my brain and my body weren’t necessarily working together I was able to get it to work.
“I know every time you’re not going to be 100%, so I’m glad I got to experience that because I hadn’t really had a fight where I felt like that. It was nice to know I would be able to get in there with a tough opponent and make it work.”
On Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Cowan (5-1) will look to pick up her sixth straight win when she faces Kelly Clayton (2-2) in a 135-pound bout at LFA 91.
“This fight was offered to a lot of people, and a lot of people said no; she said yes,” Cowan said of Clayton. “I’ve watched a lot of her fights, and she isn’t a technical master, but she is really tough and she throws really hard, so I can’t make mistakes.
“She’s a lot better than her record is, so I’m not taking it lightly. Coming into this fight I know I can’t lose this fight (for the sake of my career). Honestly it’s a little bit more pressure, because even though I’m confident skills-wise, I can’t mess this up.”
As someone who sets a timeline for her career, Cowan has a clear idea of what she would like to accomplish in 2020 to lead into what she hopes will happen in 2021.
“I’m hoping to get this fight done, get another fight in before the end of the year, then we’ll see what happens,” Cowan told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m a planner, and that’s my plan right now.
“The UFC that’s the ultimate goal, and I feel like I’m ready. Skills-wise I feel I’m there, but I need a little bit more cage time, and once I get that I feel like I’ll be ready to go. If (my coach) feels I’ve improved in the areas he thinks I need to improve then we’ll go ahead and take that next step.”