One of the things about TUF is that you do not get to see all of the fights and it is very difficult to assess the fighters off of some highlights. Fortunately for us, the UFC has put up the complete fights up on their website (right here!) for the hardcore fans. After watching them all I can now tell you how the two women’s teams stack up heading into the first fight and I’ll even give you a breakdown of the first matchup.
Modafferi is a veteran of the sport for ten years now. She is a solid fighter whose strengths are her heart and toughness. She beat Valerie Letourneau via RNC to get into the house. She does not have knockout power and is not great in any one discipline but solid in them all. She does not match up real well against the fighters on Ronda’s team, but she will win the hearts of the viewers with her genuine quirky niceness.
Pennington is very familiar to Invicta FC fans as she has fought three times for that promotion going 1-2. The two losses are to Cat Zingano and former training partner, the talented and tough Leslie Smith. She holds a win over her teammate Sara Moras who was picked ahead of her. She is another good all-around fighter, and she beat a tough veteran in Tonya Evinger to get into the house. Pennington will give whoever she fights a battle but it will be a difficult challenge for her to win the show. She will face a tough first round matchup against any of fighters on the other team.
She was Miesha’s second pick and she beat one of the toughest veterans in the sport in Tara LaRosa to get into the house. Her win over LaRosa is by far the biggest win of her young career to date. She does have some power and she has a strong grappling game. If she gets matched up against Jessica Rakoczy in the first round that is her best chance to advance. The other two would be difficult problems for her to try and solve. She also holds a win over her teammate Julianna Pena, Tate’s first choice.
She’s another young fighter with a lot of potential. She is also fighting up a weight class which makes winning the show a little more difficult. She beat Gina Mazany in a dominant fashion to gain her spot in the house. As Tate’s first choice she had a big target on her and sure enough she fights Shayna Baszler in the first fight. If she survives that fight it will put her as the clear number one seed.
As the last pick amongst the women she could repeat what Kelvin Gastelum did last season and win the whole thing. She is another fighter moving up a weight class due to the allure of the UFC. She has an extensive boxing background and she showed an evolving ground game as she defeated Revelina Berto via submission to take her spot in the house. She showed a lot of heart in that fight to get out of several submissions before she locked up the win. She might not be the favorite against the fighters on team Tate but she is capable of beating any of them. Her 1-3-1 record may not look that impressive but the losses came in her first three fights against; Michelle Ould, Zoila Fraustro Gurgel, and Felice Herrig. That is a tough way to start a career.
She might be called “The Daywalker” but she is a nightmare matchup for the fighters on Tate’s team. At 6’1″ Morgan is a big ass bantam who fights at that weight because of the opportunities. She defeated Bethany Marshall via a beat-down to earn her spot inside of the house. What we learned from that fight is that Morgan has a very heavy top game and you do not want to find yourself on the ground against her. After watching her amateur fights we learn that she moves very well and knows how to fight tall. Her biggest challenges might be her teammates on the show.
She is another familiar face to Invicta FC fans as all three of her professional fights have come under that promotion. Duke defeated Laura Howarth to get into the house. She is only two inches shorter than Morgan and she will be a serious problem for the rest of the house. Duke is a strong Muay Thai fighter who has a excellent ground game that continues to evolve. She is one of the strongest contenders to win this whole thing. She is a finisher and equally dangerous on the ground. She matches up well with everyone and has the heart and toughness.
She is a veteran and has fought and beaten some of the best in the sport. She is the number one seed and beat a tough fighter in Colleen Schneider getting the submission win to earn her way into the house. Baszler is a submission specialist but her standup is improving. She trains with former boxer and new XFC champ Stephanie Eggink and you can see it in her striking. Against Schneider she used her striking to get inside and get the fight to the ground. Baszler was tough enough when she focused on the ground, now opponents have to respect her striking too. She has a tough fight with Pena ahead of her this week.
Between the two teams Rousey’s looks stronger. There are not many first round match ups where we’d see the fighters on team Tate would favored. I would put Baszler, Duke, Pena and Morgan in the first tier. The next would be Pennington, Moras, Modafferi and Rakoczy. Any of these female fighters are capable of winning the show and it will come down to who can either thrive or survive the house the best. One thing for sure is that there will be some exciting fights from the women on this coming season. Lets take a quick look at the first one below.
Going into this fight Baszler is the favorite. When you look at Pena it is hard to find something she does clearly better than Baszler. The big difference is when she gets on top, Pena is looking to do maximum damage with her ground and pound. When Baszler gets you to the ground she is more methodical and always looking for the submission. She uses her ground and pound to open you up for the submission. On their feet you see Baszler looking more comfortable, she has a certain crispness to her strikes. It would be surprising to see this fight take place on the feet, as both fighters look to get it to the ground. If Pena can stay on top when it gets to the ground and avoid the submissions she has a chance to get the victory. It is easier to say all of that than to actually do it inside the cage against Baszler. Some of the things she was able to due against Mazany she will not be able to do against Baszler. Look for Baszler to control the fight, do some damage and take the submission if is there for her.
Final Prediction: Baszler via a two round UD.
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