UFC 184 Preview

ufc_184The women will take the centre stage in a big way at UFC 184 as the Women’s Bantamweight division takes focus in the main and co-main events. It is a long way from where they were only a few short years ago when Dana White claimed that women would never fight in the UFC. Now they are the top two billed fights on a pay-per-view event and although it came thanks to injuries the night will still be a feature of the best of the women’s bantamweight division. That includes one of the toughest women in the UFC. That woman is not the champion but instead the challenger who has finally received her shot for a title two years after becoming the top contender. Cat Zingano has had a two ear stretch that not many would be able to come back from as she dealt with some of the worst things that life can throw at one person. First it was the highest of highs after beating Miesha Tate to become the #1 contender in the Women’s Bantamweight contender and a spot alongside UFC champion Ronda Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter. Then disaster struck when Zingano blew out her knee just before her time in the TUF house. That injury took away her chance at the title and forced her out of training for months as she recovered. Many fighters would be crushed by coming so close and losing the shot but Zingano remained focused and ready to return before another tragedy struck. Zingano’s husband of seven years had committed suicide. Despite the tragedy of her coach, husband, and father of her child passing away Zingano knew she needed to stand tall not only for herself but for her son. She continued to train and manage the gym that they had started together and remained a constant in her son’s life. After all of that Zingano remained a top-tier fighter in the UFC and is mentally the toughest fighter in the UFC. Almost two years after earning her title shot that perseverance and strength of mind has led her back to the Women’s Bantamweight title. Last year Zingano beat Amanda Nunes with a TKO in her first fight since the knee injury and the death of her husband. That fight was something that Zingano needed to prove to herself and to everyone else that she is ready to be a contender. She finally gets that chance to be that contender at UFC 184 but it will not be an easy road towards the belt. In her way is possibly the most dominant fighter in the UFC right now or possibly ever. That is something to say when talking about a fighter who has only fought 10 times but it is still true. Rousey has not only won all of her MMA fights but she has never truly been tested. Aside from one scary moment against Liz Carmouche in her first UFC fight Rousey has rarely lost a minute. Her last win against Alexis Davis proved just how good she is as it took no time at all to put Davis on her back and end the fight with strikes. The scariest part of this dominance is that Rousey is only getting better in her last few fights as she evolves into a true MMA fighter. With a Judo background, Rousey had depended on her Judo slams and an amazing armbar to win but in her last two fights it was her striking that has continued the winning streak. With a one-time dominant Judo fighter now evolving to become a dominant striker the women’s bantamweight champion is only going to get more dominant as she becomes a well-rounded fighter. She will take her ever evolving game into her latest fight and look to continue to rid the division of challengers as a win against Zingano will essentially remove any significant challengers from the division. That is largely due to the fact that Zingano is truly the best fighter Rousey has faced ever. Zingano is different from most women in the UFC as she has an aggression and power that is not matched by anyone in the division. She is a devastating striker that is sure to test Rousey’s newfound stand-up game. Still, Rousey has rarely showed weakness and despite Zingano’s strengths she will take another win and remain one of the best fighters in the UFC.

Before the title goes up for grabs two more women will try to show just how much talent is in the women’s bantamweight division. Neither are in a position to challenge for the champion as neither have proved themselves enough to earn that but this fight could be a stepping stone towards an eventual title challenge. For Raquel Pennington the fight is a chance to finally get some momentum after her time on The Ultimate Fighter. A submission win in her last fight in the first round was impressive and evidence of her evolving game. After making her mark on her feet she showed some wrestling game with the submission win and now looks to put together her first win streak. It could be a tough task though as she will be an afterthought in one of the most anticipated debuts in the last year. Former 11-time boxing champion, Holly Holm finds her way to the octagon for the first time ever. The fight was originally to take place in December but with a card that features the championship fight it seemed appropriate to reschedule and feature the women in the UFC. Holm took over boxing and is considered one of the best welterweights in the history of women’s boxing. Eventually she gave up her passion to take on new challenges in MMA and has continued her dominance. After putting together a perfect 7-0 record through Bellator and Legacy, Holm has made the jump to the premier fighting promotion. She is seen as an eventual challenger to Rousey’s belt but will need to prove herself in the octagon first. A win against Pennington is a good start and although a win won’t get her a title shot immediately it will set her up for a significant run at the belt. The matchup is set to be a good one too as both fighters are built similarly although Pennington may be smart to avoid a stand up war. Although the girl known as Rocky is a good stand-up fighter Holm is a former champion boxer and has made her way in the MMA world with that boxing base alongside some fierce kickboxing. Her ground game has yet to be tested though and although many of her training partners say it is good there is no way to truly know until the fight goes to the ground. Pennington is confident enough to fight on the feet but the smart move is to take the fight to the ground and take Holm to a place she has never been before. Both fighters are looking to make some noise in the division and have a great platform to do it as the women take over the UFC this Saturday at UFC 184.

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