25-year-old Hawaiian Kailin Curran (4-2) will face the biggest test of her young career in the form of 9-year veteran Felice Herrig (10-6) on network television tomorrow night.
Despite kicking off her UFC career with a loss, Curran would collect a fight of the night bonus check in her promotional debut against another debuting fighter in Paige VanZant, who has since gone on to become a star inside and outside of the octagon. Curran would follow things up with an incredible performance against TUF 20’s Alex Chambers in her own backyard – unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough. Curran dominated the Aussie for two full rounds before falling victim to one of the great comebacks of 2015. Chambers would submit Curran via armbar at the 3:15 marker leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the Ewa Beach native.
Curran would finally earn her first UFC victory in late 2015 against another TUF 20 alum in Emily Kagan via rear-naked choke. She’ll look to make it two in a row tomorrow against yet another, her third in as man fights, TUF 20 competitor in Herrig.
Chicago’s Herrig is one of the most well-known female fighters in the business today. Being a social media darling who has never shied away from attention makes it easy for her critics to make up excuses for her 1-2 start in the UFC. Do not, I repeat, do not get it twisted. Herrig is a tremendous worker who ran into an absolute buzzsaw in Paige VanZant last December. That one-sided beatdown took a tremendous emotional toll on Herrig and showed us that the women’s strawweight division is simply just sorting itself out. VanZant would be humbled later on in the year against Rose Namajunas further proving that point. It’s all about getting in where you fit in the early stages of this division – which makes Curran versus Herrig such a pivotal fight.
A convincing win for either fighter on a stage like this would put them in the top 15 (back into the top 15 for Herrig) giving them the chance to get right into the “proverbial mix” with just one more win on top of that.
Prediction: Herrig’s UFC homecoming won’t have an effect on the outcome of this one although it will work wonders for the storyline. Although she’s only been in the sport for less than a handful of years, Curran is the more well-round fighter of the two. If she doesn’t take any crazy chances she should be able to pick up a UD win as long as she doesn’t get frustrated and goes in realizing that Herrig is far too tough to finish in a 3 round fight.
Herrig vs. Curran kicks off the main card portion of UFC on FOX 20 ‘Holm vs. Shevchenko’ at 8 p.m. ET live on FOX
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