As women’s MMA continues to grow, so grows the quality of matchups, but what has not grown is knowledge of most female fighters outside of the UFC for the “casual” fan or Bellator and Invicta FC to the more knowledgeable fan.
Before those fighters go on The Ultimate Fighter to earn a contract or get on Dana White’s Contender Series hoping to earn their shot, they have to come from somewhere right? They have to be fighting somewhere to hone their craft.
The reality is there are many weekends where there are several really excellent female bouts that unfortunately people just don’t know about.
How many times have you been to a local show and they have ten male bouts and one female bout and it’s that female fight that steals the show?
My goal is to give a head’s up on those fights. However, some weeks the fact is that the UFC or similar promotions have the exciting fights and there are some weeks, such as this one, where it can’t be ignored that the UFC has the must-see bouts. So here, as I will do in the coming weeks are the three can’t miss female fights this weekend ranked from three to one.
3. Hannah Cifers vs Polyana Viana UFC 235
Hannah Cifers was on a roll, winner of five straight fights including first round stoppages of Invicta veterans Celine Haga and Kali Robbins before getting the call to make her UFC debut on short notice against Maycee Barber. Cifers was outmatched in that one and suffered a second round TKO defeat but showed what makes her such a fan-friendly fighter, a toughness that makes her hard to put away and an ability to absorb punishment that will make most fighters fold much quicker.
Polyana Viana made her UFC debut at Fight Night 125 in February of 2018 easily defeating Maia Stevenson in round one before running into JJ Aldrich six months later and losing a decision. The loss, coming after six straight wins will possibly prove to be beneficial to her in the long run as she hasn’t had the biggest challenges throughout her career and learning what it will take to be competitive on the big stage might be what she needed.
What can be expected in this fight? Action from beginning to end. A finish is something that can be expected, but it will be fun till we get there. Cifers is someone who constantly puts pressure on her opponents, continually coming forward. While her ground skills are not to be ignored, her hands are her best asset. Standing or using her ground and pound her best path to victory will be inflicting punishment while looking to avoid letting Viana get into her comfort zone and making Viana need to look for a plan B. For Viana’s part, no secret as to what she wants. The six wins before the Aldrich loss featured five submissions. She will surely be looking to get it to the ground as soon as she can and look to avoid getting into a brawl with Cifers. Having said that, she will probably have to exchange some with Cifers in order to get close enough to get the takedowns she will be after. If Cifers keeps it standing it will bode well for her, if Viana can get it into a grappling contest, then that will favor her.
What’s at stake?:
In many ways, the same thing is at stake for both fighters. Cifers losing her UFC debut needs a win, she wants to show she is UFC caliber. Is she a UFC caliber fighter or is she a super exciting regional fighter? This fight can go a long way in establishing the answer to that. Viana will be given an opportunity to show she is more than just a grappler. She won’t be facing someone she can easily take down, she will have to work for it and will have to use her hands to get it to where she does want it. So this fight will provide her an opportunity to prove that.
This fight will be viewable on the early prelims portion of UFC 235 on UFC Fight Pass.
2. Magdalena Sormova vs Eva Dourthe WWFC 14
We are headed to the Ukraine for this one. Magdalena Sormova and Eva Dourthe will compete for the World Warriors Fighting Championship strawweight title currently held by Sormova. Sormova brings a 6-1 record into the bout and it’s not a fake 6-1 record. Sometimes you will see certain fighters getting perceived easy fights to build up their record, but Sormova has fought tough opponents. Following a decision loss at Pancrase to Ayaka Miura, Sormova bounced back with wins over Christine Stanciu and the fight she won her title in, a first round armbar victory over Sevetlana Gotsyk, those two with a combined 15-5 record. A win here would have to put her on the radar for opportunities in one of the bigger U.S. promotions.
Dourthe brings a 4-1 record into this fight but has not fought the level of competition that Sormova has, although she is coming off a solid decision win over Mayara Thays in her last fight in November. Before that fight, her opponents were of the 0-0 and 2-3 variety, so it is a little harder to get a gauge on where she is in her career as opposed to Sormova. That being said, there is high hopes for her and some have predicted a bright future for her. She is definitely stepping up in competition here and getting this opportunity, clearly some believe she is a worthy adversary in this fight.
What can we expect in this one? Sormova has two straight armbar wins so it would seem that that is something she perhaps looks for. Sormova is very capable wherever the fight goes but she is at her most dangerous on the ground, whether that be looking for a submission or inflicting damage through ground and pounds. She is someone who is always looking to finish fights and there is no reason to suspect she’ll change that in this one. Sormova may be more willing to stand and trade in this one as well with her having the more “big fight” experience and want to break the will and confidence of her opponent. Dourthe is not a finisher, at least not at this stage of her career as all but one of her fights has gone the distance. While this fight being a title fight is five rounds instead of three, Dourthe is aware she has the cardio to go a long time and might feel it’s to her advantage to drag the fight into later rounds where we haven’t really seen Sormova much. Her best road to victory may come from working in the clinch, trying to make Sormova carry her weight and therefor drain some of her strength and energy. That’s not to say Sormova can’t go the rounds, but if Dourthe can drain some of her energy or if Sormova comes out aggressive and looking for the quick finish, she may drain some of that herself. If that happens we can expect Dourthe to possibly seize control late and look to finish or if she can steal an early round, possibly get the decision.
What’s at stake?:
Well obviously the title is at stake. Beyond that, for Sormova, it is another step towards proving she is the prospect that many think she is and a win gets her one step closer to being on the radar of big U.S. promotions, if she’s not already on that radar. For Dourthe, this is her opportunity to show she can hang with top flight opponents, that she is better than just a fighter getting easy wins. Is she as good as her record or is she just a little better than her opponents. This fight will go a long way in establishing that answer.
As of now there is no known live stream of this card but the promotion got all of the fights from their last event up on YouTube and can be expected to do so again with this one.
1. Tecia Torres vs Weili Zhang UFC 235
It figures that in the week I begin writing this, I have to rely on the UFC for two fights, which is the opposite of what I wanted to do, but with a lack of female bouts this weekend, I had to, and besides, there is no reason not to love this fight. Tecia Torres brings a 10-3 record into this one and is the number seven ranked contender in the UFC strawweight rankings. Yes, she is coming off two consecutive losses, but keep in mind those losses are Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk and the third loss on her record is current strawweight champ Rose Namajunas. Torres also has an impressive list of names that she has beaten and on any night can hang with anyone in the division. As anyone who has watched her fight can tell you, Tecia doesn’t have a reverse gear, she is constantly coming forward and her fight’s never lack excitement. Zhang brings an 18-1 record into this including wins in both her UFC bouts, most recently a November armbar victory over Jessica Aguilar. Hardcore women’s MMA fans have long known about Zhang and considered her an elite level fighter who’s UFC arrival was highly anticipated. Now that she is in the UFC, people are seeing why she was so highly thought of.
What can be expected? Well it is a Tecia Torres fight so we can expect a hundred miles per hour of aggression for starters. She hasn’t had to display it very often but Tecia is also quite capable on the ground, her submission of Juliana Lima showed that. So you may not want to get into a kickboxing match with her, but going to the ground with her is not picnic either. This may be the first time Zhang has faced someone who might be the better striker. Zhang for her part has shown an ability to adapt to however the fight is going. She may be willing to accommodate Torres and let it become a kickboxing match or might see her best path to victory come from working in the clinch and/or getting it to the ground. What makes this bout so intriguing is while there is a lack of finishes on Torres’s resume there is also a lack of being finished. So there is every reason to believe that we may get 15 full minutes of non-stop action.
What’s at stake?:
Both fighters are capable of beating anyone in the division. So what’s at stake is plain and simple, it’s a step closer to title contention. Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade will be fighting for the strawweight title and after that there is no clear cut person to fight for the title after that, so a win here could possibly put the winner one or two win’s away. Especially Torres since Zhang is still not ranked for some reason, so a win here clearly establishes her in the rankings.
This fight can be seen as part of the main card on the UFC 235 PPV.