On Saturday night, Aleksandra Albu steps into the octagon to face Izabela Badurek at UFC Fight Night: Gonzaga Vs Cro Cop II aka UFC Krakow. It will be Albu’s first fight in the UFC and should go some way to answering the questions raised when the company signed her back in 2013.
While her representatives will claim that she has a 5-0 professional record, most reliable sources list Albu as a 1-0 novice. Her only verifiable fight is a first round win against Lyubov Demidova in 2013.
To put that win into perspective, Demidova, as far as anyone can work out, only has one fight to her name which was that loss to Albu. Hardly the sort of noticeable victory that gets you picked up by the UFC.
It’s easy to see why fans were confused when the karate black belt was signed ahead of more established fighters. Type her name into a Google image search, or on YouTube, and you will see stunning photos and training videos which make it just as easy to see why the UFC came calling in the first place.
The signing of the former club bouncer, competitive bodybuilder, and some time fitness model, left us wondering whether she could actually fight. We expected the UFC to give us a quick answer. That was not to be the case.
Originally signed as a bantamweight, Albu was set to make her UFC debut against Julie Kedzie back at UFC Fight Night 33 in Australia. Injury forced her off that card, before the introduction of a strawweight division got the Russian’s attention. Albu has now slimmed down to become a more competitive force at 115lbs.
That word, competitive, is the key. Looking great on Twitter and Facebook may give you a head start, but it helps if you can win a fight or two in the cage. The most notable faces of women’s MMA have been able to combine an engaging media presence with quality performances.
While Gina Carano had the world gushing with every smile, she was winning fights in EliteXC. Every new Ronda Rousey photo shoot that floods the internet is backed up by another dominant performance in the cage.
Carano and Rousey are not alone either. While the MMA portion of the internet might break every time Miesha Tate posts a butt selfie, she is also one of the best women’s bantamweights on the planet. If Albu is to gain anywhere near the traction those fighters have, impressing inside the octagon is every bit as important.
If Albu can combine stunning social media photos with an ability to win fights, she will become a huge asset to the developing UFC Strawweight Division. That ‘if’ is a big one, because based on what we have seen so far, we simply don’t know if she can. Albu might have developed into the most exciting fighter the 115lb division has seen at this point, or she might not.
A win over Izabela Badurek on Saturday is a must. A dominant performance with an impressive finish would be a bonus. It would start to answer the questions raised by her signing in 2013, while also posing a new one.
How long before she gets the Paige VanZant treatment and earns herself an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok?
Keep winning in the cage and it won’t be long.