By John Carlin, December 11th 2014
History will be made on Friday night as the first ever UFC women’s 115lb champion will be crowned, as former Invicta strawweight champion Carla Esparza meets the uber-talented Rose Namajunas in a worthy main event which pits the best two fighters to make it through The Ultimate Fighter 20 house against each other.
The Main card also features a featherweight clash between Jeremy Stephens and Charles Oliveira, KJ Noons takes on Daron Cruickshank in what should be a fun stand up battle, as well as the two TUF 20 losing semi-finalists taking on each other as Jessica Penne takes on Randa Markos, so let’s get right into it….
After battling their way through the TUF 20 house, Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas are set to face each other to decide who will be crowned as the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion, after having both performed excellently during their time in the TUF house both bring contrasting styles into this fight which makes it all the more compelling. Carla an outstanding wrestler shoots strong and quick double and single leg takedowns, and is very dominant from top position, understanding how to control her opponents on the mat, also quite surprisingly to some in her TUF 20 semi final fight with Jessica Penne she showcased some of her boxing managing to close the distance and land some beautiful lead right hands and combinations to the body and head of Penne.
Rose Namajunas excelled in her time inside the TUF 20 house, showing what a creative force she can be inside of the Octagon, the general consensus leading into the show was that she was more of a striker, but 3 submissions in 3 fights during her time in the TUF house reveal a way more well rounded mixed martial artist who is comfortable wherever the fight takes place, which could prove vital in this match up, as Carla will no doubt be looking to plant Rose on her back throughout the contest. Eparza was the number 1 seed on the show, and in truth it showed why, her wrestling game is so dominant if things aren’t quite going her way on the feet she has the ability to dictate where the fight takes place, which I feel will be key against such a creative fighter like Namajunas, Namajunas is undoubtedly going to be a champion at some point, however I don’t think it’s going to be here, Carla has championship experience, a strong and relentless wrestling attack, with an ever-improving stand up game, which I feel she will mix up all of these facets into a unanimous decision victory and become the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion.
Prediction: Carla Esparza to defeat Rose Namajunas by decision.
In the co-main event of the night Jeremy Stephens takes on Charles Oliveira in what promises to be an exciting fight. Stephens, coming off of his 5-round epic battle with Cub Swanson looks as good as he’s ever been and will be looking to get back to winning ways here with a victory over the always dangerous and talented Charles Oliveira.
Oliveira has himself been in good form of late, currently on a 2-fight win streak including a submission over the veteran Hatsu Hioki in his last fight, which gave Oliveira the honour of being the only fighter to have ever submitted the former Shooto and Sengoku champion, possessing one of the most dangerous and creative guard games currently in the UFC, Oliveira is a dangerous guy on the mat.
This is an interesting match up the one thing that stands out to me straight away though is that Oliveira doesn’t really take being cracked hard very well, this was evident in the Cub Swanson fight and also the Donald Cerrone fight, and the bad news for Oliveira is that Jeremy Stephens hits like a truck, possessing a lot of power and not being afraid to use it once inside the Octagon. Oliveira could potentially catch Stephens in something but I like Stephens to Oliveira with something big on the feet then pounce for the finish.
Prediction Jeremy Stephens to defeat Charles Oliveira by TKO
Daron Cruickshank takes on KJ Noons in what is sure to be a fun fight for fans of the standing arts, Cruickshank a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo has at times looks outstanding inside of the Octagon but has failed to really be consistent, coming in to this fight on the back of a decision victory over Anthony Njokuani before previously dropping a decision to Jorge Masvidal.
KJ Noons who style is more kickboxing orientated is coming in off the back of his most impressive performance inside of the Octagon, when he knocked out Sam Stout in just 30 seconds, catching Stout with a beautiful right to put an early end to the Canadians night hand earn himself a performance bonus of the night award. Noons, a veteran of multiple MMA organizations including Strikeforce, Dream, and Elite XC has notable victories over the likes of Nick Diaz and Yves Edwards during his career. It should be a very entertaining fight to watch, but one that I’m picking the Detroit Superstar to get the better off.
Prediction: Daron Cruickshank to defeat KJ Noons by decision.
Other main card predictions:
Prediction: Yancy Medeiros to defeat Joe Proctor by TKO
Prediction: Jessica Penne to defeat Randa Markos by decision.
Felice Herrig to defeat Lisa Ellis by TKO
Bec Rawlings to defeat Heather Jo Clark by decison
Joanne Calderwood to defeat Seo Hee Ham by TKO
Tecia Torres to defeat Angela Magana by decison
Aisling Daly to defeat Ashley Chambers by Submission
Angela Hill to defeat Emily Kagan by TKO