The first time I met Randa Markos, she was fighting on a regional card in Ontario, Canada for a promotion called Provincial Fighting Championships. At the time she was 2-0, both wins by submission. She was quietly becoming one of Ontario’s most intriguing female prospects. It didn’t take long to figure out she styled herself a grinder. She took her opponent down in the first minute and punished her for the length of the fight. The patience of a veteran was shown as she took a unanimous decision.
The post-fight interview put forward a young woman that was still unsure whether she belonged in the sport. She was quiet, shy and humble. Fast-forward ten months and that quiet, shy and humble woman is on the verge of becoming a household name in the world of combat sports. She is a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 20, which debuts on September 10. She spent six weeks this summer in Las Vegas filming for the most anticipated edition of the show in some years.
This season’s winner will be crowned the UFC’s first ever 115lb. women’s champion. For this young pharmacy assistant from Windsor, Ontario, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Markos. That’s a bold statement, considering what this Iraqi immigrant has had to overcome. At the age of three, Markos and her family moved to Windsor. The Gulf War forced the Markos family from Iraq, where they were held at gunpoint and imprisoned for trying to escape.
“I have a few memories of when we escaped, just flashbacks,” said Markos. “We were in prison for a little bit, I remember that moment. I remember being on the airplane when we were coming here. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane. My sister and my mom tell me stories, it was pretty crazy.” Her immediate family ended up in Canada. The rest were split, and remain in different parts of the world to this day. Some moved to Italy, others to Australia and some are in California. Markos and her family ended up in Windsor because her mother had an aunt in the area and she took care of their VISAs.
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