The Silva/Mir card was pretty rough going so we're looking to get back on track this weekend. We've got Rousey, Holm, Ellenberger, Walsh and El Cucuy. Enjoy the fights!
Ronda Rousey (c) vs Cat Zingano #1
What can we say about Ronda Rousey that hasn’t already been said? With just 10 fights under her belt, the 28-year-old has replaced Cris Cyborg as the most dominant female MMA fighter in the world and boasts an unblemished, finish-only record. She’s a movie star, a centrefold and an absolute killer in the cage.
But if you want to talk about mental toughness, Cat Zingano, 32, cannot be doubted. She entered the UFC at 7-0 and clashed with Meisha Tate in April 2013 in a number one contender bout. Zingano was battered by Tate for one and a half rounds before turning the tide to score a TKO over Cupcake. In a cruel twist, she then wrecked her knee and lost her coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter. In January 2014, her husband, BJJ black belt Mauricio Zingano, took his own life.
It was a hellish time for Zingano, but as usual, she turned it around. Returning to the UFC to face the tough Amanda Nunes, she was once again battered for over a round before coming back to wreck Nunes late in the fight. She acknowledges she's a slow starter, but she is never, ever out of a fight no matter how badly she’s getting beaten up, and she knows how to find a finish. She has fantastic Muay Thai, her knees are particularly strong, and she’s got a chin like you would not believe.
Will any of that make a difference? No. Cat Zingano may be Rousey’s toughest test to date, but Rowdy is without a doubt the best in the world, not by a bit, but by the length of the straight. She’s been defending armbars and dishing out armbars all her life. If you clinch with her, you go flying through the air, propelled by the dark arts of world-class judo. The question is not if Ronda will win, it's when and how.
Zingano now has two straight TKO wins under her belt in the UFC. Her striking is very good. We're expecting Ronda to clinch and clinch early, toss her to the mat and hunt for that armbar. Zingano's physically strong and that will help with her sub defence, but sooner or later Ronda is going to wrench an arm free. ROUSEY SUB
Holly Holm #13 vs Raquel Pennington #14
This should be a big moment for women's MMA. Holly Holm is a genuine superstar of women's boxing, a former undisputed champion who some place among the best of all time. Ignore the things Edmond Tarverdyan says about Ronda Rousey, this is what world-class women's boxing looks like. She earned a 33-2 record as a pro and has added some lethal kicks to her arsenal. Holm's 7-0 heading into her UFC debut and if she can put on a show against Pennington, it will be a nice crossover shot in the arm for WMMA.
Pennington deserves to be 3-0 in her last three fights, but she dropped a controversial split decision to Jessica Andrade at UFC 171. She's a well-rounded, tough fighter who's physically imposing in the clinch and capable of threatening with submissions. Her striking's more than serviceable and she's not afraid to throw combos, but they won't fly against Holm. She needs to take the striker out of her comfort zone and turn this into a grappling match.
Pennington's only fought nine times in her pro career (5-4), but she had eight fights as an amateur and won seven of them. Still, their experience levels don't bear comparison. Pennington is battle-hardened for a 26-year-old, but the 33-year-old Holm made her pro boxing debut when Pennington was 13. She dominated women's boxing for years before retiring to chase her MMA dream. All but one of her MMA bouts have ended via strikes and that's because her movement, control of range and finely honed strikes are in a league of their own.
It's not often we see a former world boxing champion debut in the UFC, let alone one who's still near their prime. Holm's been training at Jackson's for a while now and you'd assume she's been working on her sprawl. Pennington's a big step-up in competition, but she knows how to rise to the occasion. HOLM TKO
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