Gillian Robertson almost always has a giddy energy about her when it’s fight week. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from someone who carries the moniker of “Savage,” but the attitude feels true, nonetheless. The Canadian-born submission ace is ruthless when she gets into the Octagon, particularly on the ground, and she has earned the most submission wins of any woman in UFC history. When you ask her about it, though, she will probably just laugh about it and endearingly talk about her love for getting rear naked chokes, or as she calls them: “throat cuddles.”
Her upcoming fight against Tabatha Ricci is a particularly exciting moment for her, as it is the first time she is competing in her adopted home state of Florida since joining the UFC. Robertson said she expects all her friends and family to cheer loudly for her in the crowd, which will feel “absolutely amazing.”
“As soon as my walkout song starts, I feel like that's when all the nerves go away,” Robertson told UFC.com. “I'm just tuned in and ready to go. It's a different world. It's almost impossible to describe because it's just an unreal feeling being in the cage.”
The turnaround is rather quick for Robertson, who last picked up a win – another submission, naturally – in UFC’s visit to Kansas City this past April. The win over Piera Rodríguez was a milestone one because it marked Robertson’s return to the strawweight division.
To that point, Robertson competed as a flyweight since joining the roster via The Ultimate Fighter in 2017. Mainly off the back of her jiu jitsu skills, she managed to hold her own against a mostly larger group of opponents, but she flipped to a new chapter in 2023 and seemed the better for it.
As far as the weight cut, she said they’ve both gone “surprisingly well,” which reassured her that this division is home.
A 14-fight veteran at just 28 years of age, Robertson isn’t looking to methodically climb the ladder at 115 pounds. She wants to catapult herself up the rankings after her successful divisional debut.
Ricci represents that exact opportunity. The Brazilian bounced back from her short-notice debut against Manon Fiorot (a flyweight bout) with three consecutive wins at strawweight, including an armbar victory over Jessica Penne.
“I think she has decent wrestling,” Robertson said. “Other than that, I don't really see her posing any opportunities to finish the fight with me. I don't think her grappling is anywhere near my level. Her striking, I feel like, isn't going to be superior to mine either. I think, if anything, her biggest thing is going to be to try to decision me.
"Other than that, I'm going in there looking for a finish and I feel like everybody knows that.”
Because of the rather quick turnaround, Robertson said she and her team at The GOAT Shed in Florida just focused their efforts on game planning for Ricci rather than adding to her game this time around.
If Robertson’s fight against Rodríguez was a warning shot to the strawweight division, she hopes a victory over Ricci is a clear statement that she has eyes laser-focused on the elite at 115 pounds.
“(A win) definitely puts a number next to my name,” she said. “That's the reason I wanted this fight. I saw she was ranked, so I just wanted that number. After that, I'd love to start climbing the rankings. Definitely looking a little bit ahead and getting a little bit up there. A couple more fights, and then looking for a title shot.”
UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs Topuria took place live from the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on June 24, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!