Uncharted territory will be reached Nov. 14 for women’s mixed martial arts: UFC 193 will feature two women’s title fights. This goes to prove the leaps and bounds that women’s MMA has taken over the past few years, as several talented female fighters have stepped foot in the Octagon, the combat ground of the world’s most famous MMA promotion.
At UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, armbar specialist Ronda Rousey (12-0 MMA) will take on former professional boxer and kickboxer Holly Holm (9-0) in the main event. Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight division champion will look for her seventh UFC win, all in title fights.
She faces a new challenge in Holm, a technical striker who would be wise to keep Rousey at a distance with kicks and outpoint her. That’s how Holm won her two UFC fights against Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau. Holm seems to lack a killer instinct, which hasn’t endeared her to the many UFC fans who were hyping her up as an exciting striking finisher. That will likely also hurt her against Rousey, who is too skilled to let Holm outpoint her for 25 minutes.
Rousey’s striking has improved over her last few fights, as showcased in her knockout victories over Alexis Davis and Bethe Correia. Contrary to Holm, the last thing Rousey can be called is a point-fighter. Rousey has finished her last three fights in a total time of 1:04, including the wins over Davis and Correia and a 14-second submission victory over Cat Zingano. Rousey would be wise to go back to her bread-and-butter against Holm though, which would be to try to get the fight to the ground. Once it gets there, Rousey will likely slap an armbar on Holm, like many of her previous victims, probably in one of the first two rounds.
The co-main event will be a strawweight division title fight between Polish striking-specialist Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10-0) and Valérie Létourneau, a solid striker in her own right with an underrated submission game. Unfortunately for the Canadian Létourneau, she’s likely in for a long night against Joanna Champion, as her fans affectionately call her.
Létourneau likely won’t be able to take much advantage of her best path to winning the belt, which would be utilizing her ground game. Jedrzejczyk has outstanding takedown defense, which helped her snatch the title from wrestler Carla Esparza and defend it against Jessica Penne, so Létourneau will likely struggle to get the Pole to the ground, despite her three-inch height advantage. If she can’t take her down, Létourneau will have to fight her with her standup. While she holds a two-inch reach advantage over Jedrzejczyk, she will likely be a fish out of water on the feet. Létourneau has a good stiff jab, but Joanna has a wide standup arsenal, including a hook, powerful punch combinations and wicked elbows and knees. Létourneau is tough, but that may prolong the punishment that Jedrzejczyk will nearly assuredly deliver en route to a knockout victory. Just watch her fights against Esparza and Penne to see how she mauled them with her various strikes.
These two fights alone back-to-back will show fans just how far women’s MMA has come. It says something that UFC President Dana White recently claimed that women fighting in the UFC was the best decision he’s ever made, after saying in 2011 that women would never fight in the UFC, according to MMA Weekly. Just almost two years later, the UFC signed Rousey, and women’s MMA has evolved since then.
Women’s MMA has been around for years, but it’s safe to say that it has never been this popular. A lot of fans are enjoying the talent and fights the women put on as much as their male counterparts.
A lot of female UFC fighters are gaining popularity or have had it for a few years now. Young strawweight standouts Rose Namajunas and Paige VanZant are set to headline a UFC Fight Night card in December. Talented bantamweights, like Miesha Tate, Zingano, Amanda Nunes and more, are all looking to get into the title picture while putting on excellent shows for fans. Strawweights, like Claudia Gadelha, Esparza, Penne, Tecia Torres, Randa Markos and more, are looking to navigate a stacked division to join Namajunas and VanZant in fighters that are looking for a crack at the belt.
It’s safe to say women’s MMA is alive and well and perhaps better than ever. Fans new and old will get a taste of that when the ladies clash at the top of the show in Australia.