I know what it’s like to struggle against suicide, so when I’m talking to an accomplished UFC athlete like Megan Anderson who has publically admitted the same, I’m confronted with three basic choices for my interview.
I can interview about her upcoming fight against Amanda Nunes like I’m supposed to do, I can thank her for being so open about mental health issues, or I can just enjoy a silly chat with her about how everybody pronounces her name wrong.
I ended up doing two of those three things.
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Upcoming Fight vs. Nunes
Anderson is set to face UFC women’s featherweight champion Nunes in the co-main event of UFC 259 on March 6 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
The 31-year-old Australian reminded me she was actually supposed to have already fought for the title back in 2017 when Cris Cyborg was the champion.
“I was supposed to fight Cyborg but I wasn’t able to have the fight…the fight fell through. I wasn’t able to fight for a long time after that, so I’ve been preparing for this for a while,” Anderson said.
Of course, Nunes defeated Cyborg at UFC 232 to capture UFC gold at 145 pounds, and Cyborg left for Bellator MMA soon after that.
“She ended up leaving the UFC, so it wasn’t in the cards. Amanda became the champion,” Anderson said.
Anderson is a significant underdog in the fight on the betting market, but she expects to shock the world against Nunes.
She didn’t get to face Cyborg in her UFC debut a few years ago, but now she gets to fight someone most people consider to be the GOAT of women’s MMA.
“It’s a tough fight. She has a great resume, but we’re up for the task,” Anderson said.
Mental Health Issues
Anderson has opened up on mental health issues numerous times in the past, so I thought it was important to thank her for doing that. After all, as someone who has struggled with the same kinds of issues, I know what it’s like to feel alone in that difficult fight.
Anderson has honestly shared about her personal demons, the alcoholism that runs in her family, and that she’s even dealt with suicidal thoughts and actions. For me, even just writing that sentence helps me feel less alone.
I can only imagine it does something similar for people who read those kinds of stories about her or hear her talk about those kinds of issues to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
“Talking about mental health is scary,” Anderson told Heavy.
“It makes me feel very vulnerable. When I think about it, the only reason I think it makes me feel that way is because there is a stigma around it. There’s this idea that if you talk about having mental health issues, that you’re weak. I am not a weak person. For me, having gone through everything I have, and coming out the other side, I know I’m not a weak person,” Anderson said.
Anderson believes busting that stigma is important work and that she’s uniquely equipped to do it. Moreover, Anderson knows the stakes are huge.
“If I can help one person or prevent one person from attempting suicide or committing suicide by talking about these topics that might not necessarily be comfortable to talk about, if I can help just one person…then my job has been done,” Anderson said.
Anderson believes talking about mental health issues should never be off-limits. More importantly, she lives that way.
“It is a part of life. It is part of the struggle that people go through, and just because people go through these types of things does not make them weak. We need to change that narrative,” Anderson said.
Silly Chat For Another Time
Anderson’s first name is pronounced “mee-gan” not “may-gan” so anyone who follows her on social media knows she spends lots of time correcting people about how to say her name.
Perhaps it’s all the times someone has called me “Casey” or”Chelsea” or even just that the receptionist at my doctor’s office last week almost fell out of her chair because she thought I “had a girl’s name”, but here is the silly line of questioning I had prepared for Anderson but didn’t have the time (or maybe the courage) to actually go through with.
Maybe it can happen next time.
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