Who Run UFC 228? Previewing a Stacked Female Card for the UFC
* Author’s Note: This was created before the unfortunate news of the Nicco Montano/Valentina Shevchenko bout getting cancelled. The former was hospitalized, and the fight will be rescheduled for another time. *
Folks, it has been a great few weeks to be a fan of female fighters in combat sports. First, the women of the “All In” pro wrestling event basically stole the show from their male counterparts. Not only that, but we have some important fights coming up this weekend.
In the boxing world, Amanda Serrano will be fighting for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight World Championship against Yamila Esther Reynoso inside the Barclays Center. That match will take place on the Danny Garcia v. Shawn Porter card. Opposite her, UFC 228 will have a plethora of women’s matches. It is a great card altogether, what with Tyron Woodley fighting Darren Till, but some of these ladies will look to prove why they are the drawing ticket, and deservingly so. You know you are in for a good night when both Valentina Shevchenko and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are on the same card. (Edit: One day, this will happen again)
Our fearless leader Erin McKelle already gave her thoughts on UFC 228, but you know what they say: you can never have enough content. I am here to break down every female fight on the card.
Are you ready?
UFC Fight Pass Prelims – Irene Aldana v. Lucie Pudilova
This women’s bout features two relatively young guns in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Aldana (8-4) is the number twelfth ranked fighter in the division, and that isn’t a bad thing. With so many talented ladies in champion Amanda Nunes’ division, any ranking is a good one. After losing back-to-back fights against Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian, Aldana rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over Talita Bernardo at UFC Fight Night 124.
Her opponent has had better luck against recent opponents. Lucie Pudilova (8-2) has won two in a row, and five of her last six. The number thirteenth ranked fighter in the division will look to leapfrog over Aldana and into the top ten.
Both fighters may not have a true chance at becoming the next contender for Nunes’ title, but a solid effort by both could turn some heads. As for the winner? The one who always has more to lose is my choice.
Prediction: Lucie Pudilova
FOX/FSGO Prelims – Carla Esparza v. Tatiana Suarez
This is a battle between two worthy strawweight contenders. As the first UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, Carla Esparza (13-5) has been on quite her own little journey. Since losing the title to Joanna Jedrezjczyk back at UFC 185, Esparza has gone 3-2 in her last five fights. After winning two in a row, it looked like she was back in contention, until losing to Claudia Gadelha at UFC 225 back in June. Now, she is looking for some retribution and possibly one final chance to get her title back.
In her way? Someone who could very well be the next strawweight contender. Tatiana Suarez (6-0) has been streaking, becoming the number nine ranked fighter in the strawweight division thanks to dominating victories over established opponents. Her last fight was a first-round submission victory over Alexa Grasso at UFC Fight Night 129. That was the third submission of her young career.
Not only is she tough in the ring, but she is tough outside of it as well. A thyroid cancer survivor, Suarez is 27 but fights like an elder statesman, in the best way possible. Unless Esparza busts out something special, the young gun will be soaring to championship (contending) glory.
Prediction: Tatiana Suarez
Main Card PPV – Jessica Andrade v. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
h, I can already smell the violence. If there is one thing you must know, it is that Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-2) is one tough fighter. Need proof? Check out her epic fight against Joanna back at UFC 205 for the Strawweight Title. Her calm demeanor throughout the slugfest was terrifying yet wonderful all at the same time.
Since losing to Joanna, Karolina has gone 2-1 and is on a two-fight win streak. While three of her last four fights have been decided via decision, her calculating game plan makes her someone to look forward to watching.
It is interesting that her opponent, Jessica Andrade (18-6), is the heavy favorite in the fight so far. Andrade also lost to Joanna back at UFC 211 and has won her last two fights since. She truly believes she deserves a title opportunity with a win, and a third win in a row would definitely help her cause. Suarez recently told local Brazilian reporters that she needs this win to face the champion (Rose Namajunas) in order to receive money. There isn’t an investment in MMA fighters in Brazil, which is hurting her. Via MMA Fighting:
Women’s MMA needs a boost as is, but hearing all of that makes you understand why athletes take so much abuse and attempt to fight in various matches a year. With that in mind, Andrade will have a lot of motivation to beat up on Karolina, but her opponent will have a similar mindset. In the end, this will be a slobberknocker of a fight, with the judges having to make a tough decision if this somehow goes all the way.
Prediction: Karolina Kowalkiewicz
* While the co-main event is off, this preview of the fight will still be used for future reference / whenever the bout actually happens. Shevchenko ended up being correct, but one can only hope Montano is OK and ready to go ASAP. *
Main Card Co-Main Event – Nicco Montano (c) v. Valentina Shevchenko – Women’s Flyweight Title
It appears that nobody is giving the champion a shot at retaining her title. Many are saying that Montano (4-2) was at the right place at the right time. Considering the flyweight division was in its infancy, it is unfair to say that Montano does not deserve the opportunity. After all, she beat Roxanne Modafferi fair and square.
That is not to say that she doesn’t have a reason to worry. The much more experienced Valentina Shevchenko (15-3) has put a target on the champions back. “The Bullet” was primarily a bantamweight contender, going 13-3 in the division. She lost her flyweight debut back in 2006 against Yulia Nemstova, but dominated Priscila Cachoeira in her return to the division back in February of this year. Will the layoff affect her chances? We will have to find out Saturday.
Montano will look to keep Shevchenko busy with her punches, while the challenger has a variety of torture methods to choose from. This will all come down to timing, and who will be available to strike the hardest. No offense to Nicco, but Valentina is out for blood, and there is no stopping someone like her when she is on the hunt.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko (new champion)