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Hashtag Files: Aspen Ladd is all about dog hikes, which makes her a weirdly soothing follow

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If you’re going to be a professional MMA fighter these days, you’ve got to stake out your territory on social media. The bizarre online world is where fighters interact with fans, attempt to arrange future fights, and sometimes just fall down strange rabbit holes.

But what can we learn about people by wasting our time scouring their social media for clues as to their true selves? That, friends, is a pointless and utterly unserious job for the The Blue Corner.

These are the Hashtag Files.

Aspen Ladd, UFC bantamweight

Twitter handle: @AspenLaddMMA
Instagram: @AspenLadd
Twitter followers: 11,800
Instagram followers: 45,000

Anyone who’s heard or watched an interview with Aspen Ladd already knows that she tends to be, as one MMA Junkie staffer put it this week, “economical” with her words.

It’s been on display all this week as she prepares for a rematch with Sijara Eubanks at UFC on ESPN+ 10. She’s a little bit like the two accused Marines in “A Few Good Men.” She’ll answer any direct question you put to her, but she won’t probably won’t volunteer any more information than is absolutely necessary. For Ladd, interview answers seem to be all about finding the shortest distance between two points.

For such a person, a social media examination seemed especially useful. It sweeps away the question-and-answer format by skipping straight to what she decides is shareable in a public forum. What does Ladd think is worth knowing about her? What of her life does she actually want us to see?

On Twitter the answer seems to be mostly articles other people have written about her. She retweets the usual pre-fight stories and interviews. She posts the standard weigh-in and faceoff photos. Her commentary on them is, as you might expect, brief and to the point.

Great opponent, nothing but respect, let’s do this – #MMAGOLD pic.twitter.com/6OqaDbgWph

— Aspen Ladd (@AspenLaddMMA) May 17, 2019

For the most part, Ladd seems to use Twitter in brief bursts. She’s not one of those fighters who’s on there every day, unburdening her mind or starting beefs with peers and fans.

Instead she seems to jump on there every once in a while to retweet some Aspen Ladd news and issue the tersest of replies to followers, often leaning on emojis to do her talking for her. Even when she’s telling someone off, this is a person who seems to have been not at all affected by Twitter expanding its maximum character count.

what a tool u are

— Aspen Ladd (@AspenLaddMMA) May 16, 2019

On Instagram, however, it’s an entirely different story. That medium, which naturally lends itself to showing rather than telling, is where we get a glimpse of what’s really important in Ladd’s daily life.

Mostly, what that boils down to is extended hikes with her dogs. Which, I think we can all agree, is just plain awesome and actually very refreshing.

Ladd is all about that hiking life, son. You might think you like to hike. You might even think you really love it. But trust me when I say that you don’t love it the way Ladd loves it. She looooves it. And it’s really hard not to love how much she loves it.

As a rough estimate, I’d say her Instagram is roughly 85% just her and her dogs out there in the Sierra Nevada foothills, clocking 10 miles a day or more surrounded by natural splendor. As a user experience, following Ladd on Instagram is a little like having a daily hiking calendar right there in your phone. Nearly every day you get a new shot of Ladd, out there in the wilderness with one or more dogs at her side. The repetition is actually kind of soothing.

But as a person who also does a fair amount of hiking in the woods with my dog, I have to admit I’m jealous. I’m a father of two with a full-time job, so I don’t get out there as much as I (and definitely my dog) would like to.

Ladd gets to spend a lot of time out on the trails, surrounded by her huskies, looking like Arya Stark roaming the countryside with a pack of direwolves in search of the next victim on her hit list.

What concerns me a little is Ladd’s chosen attire for her hiking trips. In almost every picture, Ladd seems to be wearing either a sports bra (often a Reebok UFC one, which, they ought to be paying more for that kind of exposure) or some type of bathing suit.

And why not, right? She’s a young pro fighter in phenomenal shape. No reason not to get some sun on those guns.

Maybe it’s a Northern California thing. In much the same way you can’t convince anyone at Team Alpha Male to wear a shirt if they don’t absolutely have to, Ladd can find ways to show off her legitimately impressive midsection even when she’s wearing a T-shirt.

What I wonder, though, is what the tick situation is in these woods. I can understand not wishing to be encumbered by too many clothes on a multi-hour trek through a beautiful landscape. But all that exposed skin is giving those pesky ectoparasites an awful lot of opportunities to clamp onto you and do their worst. If Ladd wants to know how hard it is to train and fight for a living while also battling Lyme disease, she can just ask Jim Miller.

It’s not all bikini hiking, though. You don’t get to be an undefeated pro at her age without logging some serious gym time. So yeah, she trains. She spars. She moves kettlebells around just like any other fighter.

Still, the impression you come away with is that, for Ladd, all that stuff is Serious Work. It’s her job, her passion, and she’s clearly very driven to be good at it. It also might occupy so much of her time and her thoughts that she’d rather not post about it constantly on social media.

Because what is there really to see, anyway? What changes? It’s the same stuff in the same gym with most of the same people. For pure aesthetic beauty, it sure can’t compete with the natural world. Or Ladd’s dogs. Or even her omnipresent abs.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

Gallery

Photos: Best of Aspen Ladd

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