Sometimes it’s easy for me to come up with the three fights to talk about here and sometimes I have five or six and have to really think about it. While my top fight was an easy decision, I had a few that really made me think as to which the other two should be. But, I was able to narrow it down and here are my top three female bouts for the week.
3. Poliana Botelho vs Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller – UFC 236
Poliana Botelho brings a 7-2 record into this fight. Her last fight in November of last year ended a five fight winning streak as she lost to Cynthia Calvillo via rear naked choke in round one. Botelho is someone who has never had an easy opponent and it will be no different this time. Botelho, while well-rounded, her striking his really her calling card, notably her kicks, having one knockout due to a body kick and her last win at UFC Fight Night 129 over Syuri Kondo being set up by a body kick. Her game-plan in this fight isn’t hard to decipher, she’s going to look to keep it on the feet and use that striking. She may be a bit more cautious than normal though and use more movement. This can be viewed as a step up in competition for both fighters but Botelho has for sure has fought the tougher opponents which may be why betters are favoring her as she is the betting favorite. I think round one can be very important for Botelho. If she is able to dictate the pace and do as mentioned before, keep it where she wants it, use her movement and land some significant shots on Mueller, it may bode well for her the rest of the way. If she is unable to do that and Mueller can take the first round, then Botelho may get frustrated and be more prone to mistakes that Mueller can and will take advantage of. The loss to Calvillo may have laid the blue print on how to defeat Botelho so hopefully Botelho has put the work in to correct that and change some things.
Lauren Mueller brings in a 5-1 record and is coming off her first pro defeat in November, a first round armbar loss to Yanan Wu. Mueller has only one finish in her career, back in 2016 in her second pro fight. While Botelho represents probably her toughest opponent to date, Mueller is not the type to be fazed by that and more so be excited about the challenge. While I can say that Mueller won’t want to get into a kickboxing match with Botelho, she’s the type who if you say she can’t or doesn’t want to do something, she’ll say “oh yeah” and set about proving you wrong. But, her best path to victory would be to avoid that I think. That’s not to say she isn’t capable there, because she has proven she is, but it’s not the best path here. Knowing that that is what Botelho will want, it might be smart for Mueller to get in and get out with her strikes and look to get it to the ground, we saw in Botelho’s last fight that she can be beaten there and it will also serve to frustrate her opponent. As I mentioned in talking about Botelho, round one will be important for Mueller. If she can manage to take the round, take the fight where she wants it, she can frustrate her opponent and set the tone going forward. Cardio would seem to favor Mueller so if she can make it a long grueling fight, that would be to her benefit as well.
What’s at stake?
Two fighters at about the same points in there career, so obviously the winner will move up the rankings and get a higher ranked opponent in their next fight, the loser will have two straight losses and move down the list and a longer ladder to climb.
This fight can be seen as part of the UFC 236 early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
2. Takayo Hashi vs Sidy Rocha – Pancrase 304
Takayo Hashi and her 16-6-1 record will be the heavy favorite in this battle of veterans. While both have had a lot of fights, Hashi has easily fought the better competition. She has beaten some very legit opponents and even her losses include names like Honchak, Kaufman and Zingano. She returned after a lengthy hiatus to defeat Barbara Acioly in February of last year at Pancrase 293 and has fought in big promotions like Invicta and DEEP Jewels. At age 41 it’s hard to know how much she has left, but her opponent being the same age means that we can equally have those questions about her. Hashi is someone you can not expect to finish in a fight and is someone who fight by fight has taken the bout in different directions. In this one I suspect she’s going to prefer to make it a grappling match and look for a submission and if it’s not there, grind out a decision. This bout being a five rounder, the longer it goes, I think the more it will favor Hashi, because I think she’ll have the cardio edge, the experience edge and a longer fight means she’s probably being successful getting it to the ground and frustrating her opponent.
Sidy Rocha brings in a 10-5-2 record and is coming off a win over an outmatched Mariya Suzuki at Pancrase 302 in December. Rocha is really hard to break down because most of her fights are for smaller promotions in Brazil with incomplete records and results. But it is fair to say she has not had the toughest of opponents. She does have an impressive draw against recent UFC signee Melissa Gatto in July but followed that up with a loss to Lara Procopio. Like with her opponent, at age 41 it’s hard to tell how much she has left. She might also prefer to have this fight on the ground but if she allows Hashi to be on top, she’s going to be in trouble. Being the much taller fighter and having the reach advantage, she might be do well to keep it standing and use those advantages. The Brazil to Japan trip is one she’s made before, and recently, so that’s something she will be prepared for and shouldn’t have much impact. A negative for her in this one is she is used to having the experience edge and using that to help her achieve victory, but she will not have that here. If she falls behind early and drops the first couple rounds, she will absolutely need to try and keep it on the feet and not allow Hashi to take her down and wrestle her.
What’s at stake?
Well the flyweight title is up for grabs here but with two fighters at age 41, how important is that title to them? I think more at stake here is boh of them seeing how much they have left and how much longer they want to do this.
This fight can be seen as part of the Pancrase 304 card on UFC Fight Pass.
1. Nicole Stoll vs Griet “Painapple” Eeckhout – Nova FC 1: A Star Is Born
Nicole Stoll brings in a 4-1 record, winning four straight since dropping her pro debut. Most recently she had a first round submission over previously unbeaten Claire Lopez. Eeckhout presents probably her toughest and surely her most experienced opponent to date. Until Lopez, she had not fought anyone of note. She will want to keep this fight standing, that’s where she is at her best and it also will take away where her opponent is at her best. On the ground she has not been really tested but she will likely be at a disadvantage there. Her striking is not overly technical but she has power and when she lands you are in trouble. If it does go to the ground, she will have the strength advantage and maybe will want to use that to look for sweeps or at the very least hold Eeckhout close and force a stand-up. She did defeat Lopez by submission so it’s not as if she is useless there but in this fight, it’s not where she wants to be. She likely will come in wild look to land punches and maybe shove her opponent up against the cage and use some clinch work, but she will want to keep her own back off of the cage. If the fight ends early, that bodes well for her as being the winner.
Griet Eeckout brings a 4-3-1 record into this one after snapping a three fight losing streak with an October win over Mellony Guegjes. Eeckout is someone who has never quite lived up to her potential. She is better than her record and results show. Some of her losses are losses that shouldn’t have happened. What the cause of that is is something I couldn’t answer. All three losses were in 2017 in fights pretty close together before taking ten months off before the Guegjes win, so perhaps taking the time off finally lead to her working on some things and fixing some holes and the Griet Eeckhout we saw in the Guegjes fight is the Griet Eeckhout we are going to see going forward. In this one she is going to want to avoid brawling, be technical in her stand-up, keep moving, not be a stationary target. Will the way Stoll throws punches, moving around will make it more difficult for her. If she can get it to the ground, it is reasonable to believe she can get some work done there as long as she’s on top, on the bottom could be bad for her. I said how a shorter fight would mean likely a good result for Stoll, with Eeckhout, the longer it goes, the better it is for her because it will likely mean she’s working her game-plan is probably getting the fight to the ground and frustrating her opponent.
As of now, there is no known live broadcast of this card. I will update when/if I know more.