Megan Anderson ready for long-anticipated Octagon debut against Holly Holm at UFC 225

After a year away from MMA, and a missed opportunity at a title shot against Cris 'Cyborg' Justino, former Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson makes her UFC debut in Chicago at UFC 225 against Holly Holm. Scott Hirano, Invicta FC

There has to be a story behind Megan Anderson's yearlong absence for "personal reasons" in 2017, but she doesn't think she'll ever tell it.

Anderson (8-2), a 28-year-old featherweight from Australia, was scheduled to face Cris "Cyborg" Justino for the UFC championship last July. She was forced to withdraw from the bout shortly after it was announced, however, because of said personal reasons.

She will make her long-anticipated promotional debut at UFC 225 this weekend, in a non-title bout against Holly Holm inside Chicago's United Center.

The obvious question for Anderson going in is where she's been over the past year. She prefers to keep that answer to herself.

"I'll probably never tell anyone," Anderson told ESPN. "It definitely makes it challenging, because people are asking and I want to be careful about certain things. At the end of the day, I have a right to my privacy. If people don't want to respect that, I guess I don't really want them following me anyway.

"If I want to have some privacy on this, I'm entitled to that. I don't need to share every part of my life."

One thing Anderson will say about her time away from the sport: It was extremely difficult.

A former champion in Invicta FC, an all-female promotion, Anderson is one of the very few legitimate, established 145-pound female fighters in the world. She is an obvious candidate to challenge Justino (20-1), who has breezed through undersized opposition throughout her career.

Forfeiting a title shot against Justino last year, for reasons she says were out of her control, was heartbreaking.

But Anderson is young, and a win over Holm -- one of the biggest names in the history of female combat sports -- will go a long way in making up for lost time.

"We always kind of thought it was going to be Cris when we came back," Anderson said. "It was definitely a shock when they wanted to go in a different direction. My management called and really dragged it out. He said, 'You're going to be fighting June 9, in Chicago ... ' I was like, 'Oh my God, get to the name.'

"I was pretty cool talking to my manager, when he said 'Holly Holm.' But when I got off the phone, I was so excited I made myself nauseous."

Justino has already made it clear she wants to face the winner of Saturday's bout -- which happens to be the first non-title female featherweight fight in UFC history.

Even after a frustrating year away from competition, Anderson is now in position to beat the likes of Holm and Justino in back-to-back fights.

When asked if that's on her mind, however, Anderson says it's not. At all. She's not willing to talk about the personal issues that consumed her life last year, but they have obviously affected her mindset.

She's happy to be back, and certainly not adding more pressure on herself, thinking about how significant this stretch of her career could be.

"I see it as, I'm just getting started," Anderson said. "I've had 10 fights. I just turned 28. Holly is 36. I have another eight years before I'm where she's at. I'm not even in my physical prime yet.

"I'm sure down the line, I'll look back on these amazing opportunities, and say I was able to fight Holly and Cris -- whoever. I'm always grateful for the experience. But I don't put it on a pedestal. I'm just happy to be here, and this is another day in the office."