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Coach says Aspen Ladd ahead of recovery schedule, ‘wants to fight Julianna Pena really bad’

As things stand, Aspen Ladd could return sooner than expected.

Ladd (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) suffered a torn ACL and MCL two weeks out from her planned June 12 fight against Sara McMann and has been doing most of her rehab at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

Ladd, who rebounded from her first professional loss to Germaine de Randamie in July 2019 with a third-round finish of Yana Kunitskaya last December, appears to be targeting a return early next year, her head coach Jim West told MMA Junkie Radio.

“Aspen does (physical therapy) two or three times a day, five times a week, so she’s really putting a lot of work,” West said. “Last I heard, she’s about five or six weeks ahead of schedule, and a lot of it boils down to as much effort as Aspen puts in. She pushes past most that I’ve seen. Her hiking and all that kinda stuff adds to that, so my guess is you’re probably gonna see Aspen fight sometime around the end of February, the beginning of March.

“She started boxing, I held pads for her maybe two weeks ago for the first time so she was kinda able to move a little bit. So she’s making progress quite nicely.”

Prior to the McMann booking, Ladd was scheduled to face Julianna Pena in March, but Pena was forced out due to injury. Pena went on to face de Randamie on Oct. 3, suffering a third-round submission loss to the former UFC featherweight champion.

West says that once Ladd is cleared, she hopes to get the Pena fight rebooked.

“Aspen wants to fight Julianna Pena really bad,” West said. “They were supposed to fight several times, and we’re gonna get that fight at some point, or maybe Raquel Pennington. I don’t know what Raquel is doing at that time, but Julianna is on Aspen’s radar.”

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