All throughout their fight on the FX portion of the UFC 174 prelims, Valerie Letourneau and Elizabeth Phillips had the crowd on their feet. It was an exciting action filled fight that saw the two fighters combine for a total of 550 strikes attempted with all but five of them being significant.
Letourneau was the more technical of the two strikers. She landed 1o4 of her 275 significant strikes and 106 of 278 overall, to Phillips’ 67 of 270 significant and 69 of 272 overall. Those numbers tell much of the story of the differences between these two. Letourneau was much more accurate and had better head movement.
Phillips could match Letourneau’s toughness if not her technique. We saw Letourneau’s in the first round after Phillips caught her with a solid right hand under the left eye. It started swelling immediately and was barely open when the decision was read.
The first was easily Phillips’ best round of the fight. She landed that big punch and just out-struck Letourneau 34 to 32. It was also her most accurate, landing 30% of her strikes to Letourneau’s 32%. The round was very back and forth and ended with the two of them just biting down and throwing in the pocket.
In the later part of the round, Letourneau started to find a home for her uppercut. Phillips spent the rest of the fight as if she was determined to prove she could not be hurt by it as she continued to duck into it. Phillips took them and many other clean shots in the final two rounds.
Letrouneau landed 32 of 89 in the second round to Phillips’ 23 of 91. In the third, Letourneau upped her pace and landed 46 of 102 to Phillips’ 18 of 76. Letourneau was able to maintain a high output for all three rounds and that contributed to her win along with her accuracy and movement.
Both put on impressive displays of cardio after taking the fight on short notice. Phillips slowed in the second but picked her pace back up in the third she just could not match Letourneau on this night.
The other big difference in their striking was Letourneau’s ability to string her combinations together. Almost everything she threw was a part of a combo blending kicks, knees and punches. Phillps threw some combos but they were mostly two or three punches while Letorneau would put together up to five, six or seven strike ones.
Phillips was throwing with more power but that also contributed to her being more one and two punch oriented. When she did land she did do some damage. The most significant was to Letourneau’s left eye. it would not be surprisingly to learn that it was broken as Joe Rogan suggested during the broadcast.
Both fighters showed tremendous heart and you like their future in the UFC. Many fighters would have looked for a way out after getting hit like Letourneau did in the first round. Instead she came back harder to win the rest of the fight from there.
For many fighters it can be disheartening to hit someone cleanly like that and have them keep coming at you. It is easy to start to either doubt yourself or just get frustrated. Either way you make mistakes and often get finished. Phillips did neither and just kept coming at Letourneau firing away until the final bell.
Technique can be taught but not heart. You either have that or you do not. Both fighters did tonight but it was Letourneau’s superior technique and slightly better cardio that made the difference in this fight.
It was an impressive octagon debut for both fighters. One that foreshadows a bright future for the both of them. Whoever they each fight next in the UFC you can expect it to be an exciting one.
image credit – eclypsephotos