Following a card where the headliner was changed with 24 hours notice, UFC on ESPN 18 is now one for the books. We saw 10 fights, three KO/TKO finishes, four submissions and three decision victories. We play matchmaker and look at potential fights for Anthony Smith, Norma Dumont and Gina Mazany.
UFC on ESPN 18
On just 24 hours notice, Anthony Smith took a main event slot against Devin Clark. Off the back of two losses, both of which were lacklustre performances, Smith was up against it. He needed only two and a half minutes to lock up a triangle to finish Clark, who himself seemed lacklustre. ‘Brown Bear’ rushed in, was taken down and dominated for as long as it lasted.
Who should be next from Smith? It’s simple, Paul Craig. With Smith ranked #6 and Craig #14 the fight makes sense. Smith entertained the idea of a Craig fight, who is undefeated in his last four and has only gone to a decision once. On Craig, Smith said:
“I think I saw something about Paul Craig had brought my name up. That’s a fun matchup. That’s a fun grappling matchup. I love his style. I could listen to his interviews forever. As long as I have enough time to get ready, I’m good.”
For Smith, it would be a fight against a named, ranked opponent and for Craig, it is a great opportunity to climb the rankings.
Brazil’s Norma Dumont dominated her way to a one-sided victory. Her victory is certainly going under the radar as she put on a brilliant, almost flawless performance. All judges gave her a 30-26 victory on the scorecards. She really showed a well-rounded game, heavy hands, smooth striking both in and out of the clinch as well as a strong ground game and good wrestling. What more can we ask for? Yes, she lost her debut but it was up at 145lbs where she was drastically undersized. She’s now big for the weight class she competes in and although she missed weight, she’ll stay at 135lbs.
Who’s next for the new bantamweight? Obviously, she’ll be looking up the rankings and with this in mind we could see her opposite a number of opponents. The three names that stick out are Bea Malecki, Tracy Cortez or Jessica Rose – Clark. Each of these women won their last bouts and are strong competitors. The Aussie, in particular, looked phenomenal in her return last time out. Malecki is only 2-0 in her pro career and has also competed up at featherweight on The Ultimate Fighter. Cortez is 8-1 as a professional and 2-0 in the UFC. With her clinch wrestling style, it would provide Dumont with an alternative look. Either one of these three women would be good fights for Dumont at this point in her career.
Gina Mazany’s name on the card at UFC on ESPN 18 may have come as a surprise to many. The UFC formerly released the bantamweight following two poor performances. She then had one fight outside of the promotion (a TKO victory over a 43-year-old opponent… who lost her last outing… which was nine years prior to the Mazany fight). That being said, she returned to the big leagues in June where she suffered a TKO loss in just 22 seconds.
At UFC on ESPN 18, she faced off against (and dominated) Rachel Ostovich. Ostovich, for all her ‘assets’ as a fighter, has no business being in there at the top level. She’s 4-6 as a professional, with her only win coming against a fellow TUF competitor back in 2017. Not only did Mazany have the skill advantage but she also held a huge size advantage too, moving down to 125lbs for the first time in her career.
We’ll likely see Mazany back out in early 2021. Her opponent will be someone of similar talent. Potentially a bout against Shana Dobson makes sense. Dobson is coming off the biggest win of her career, where she defeated Mariya Agapova. With this victory, Dobson tied the record for largest betting odds upset in UFC history (a +800 underdog). Even a fight against Agapova makes sense, with each lady having had 11 professional fights. A win for either three women in any of these fights would move them a step closer to a top 15 spot, although it’s unlikely to see any of these women putting together a big run any time soon.
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