Paige VanZant showed her limitless potential again tonight in the main card opener at UFC On FOX 15 with a dominant display of grappling and ground and pound against Felice Herrig.
Herrig unleashing fast offense to start with punches and a push kick. They clinch up with VanZant taking the lead, but her throw to the mat isn’t the best and Herrig is quickly able to improve to a dominant position and takes her back.
Herrig locked onto VanZant’s back and working on a rear-naked choke. VanZant working hard to break free and manages to almost break free, but Herrig transitions to an armbar attempt.
VanZant able to brute force her way out of that submission via a slam and they get back to standing and battle in the clinch.
They break apart with half the round remaining. Herrig with a short flurry of strikes and VanZant clinches, landing a nice knee to the body. VanZant then presses her against the cage, but Herrig reverses the position.
They exchange knees and then VanZant tries that row again and this time it pays off for her. VanZant looking to get busy immediately with ground and pound, though she needs to be careful not to get caught up in a submission in the process.
Into the final minute and VanZant is in half guard as she slows down her pace just a tad, and Herrig gets back to full guard. VanZant opts to stand over her opponent and Herrig fires off a couple of upkicks. VanZant drops back down with a leg lock as the round comes to a close.
Kick from VanZant and punches from Herrig. VanZant looking for a kick again, but gets knocked off balance in the process and as she gets back up Herrig presses forward with a succession of straight punches down the pipe.
Into the clinch now as they battle for positional control. VanZant with a few knees and Herrig with one in response. Foot stomp from VanZant now and strike over the top. She switches around to Herrig’s back and then sinks back to the mat with her. Herrig spins and ends on top though, but credit to VanZant who quickly reverses again.
More scrambling action now and Herrig gets up and has the body lock against the cage as she looks for a potential takedown. Back and forth battle against the cage and then Herrig gets the takedown, but VanZant roles and emerges on top.
VanZant in side control with two minutes of the round remaining. Herrig being crafly looking for another reversal, but for now VanZant stays on top. Again Herrig almost gets to an advantageous position, but VanZant scrambles to remain on top. She’s playing with fire a bit here with her offensive style, but it’s working out so far.
Herrig with an armbar attempt now as she stays busy from her back. VanZant escapes and ends up in north south position. VanZant to side control and lands some hard ground and pound in the final seconds.
VanZant with a body kick. She lands to the leg and Herrig looks to counter with punches, but VanZant is into the clinch now.
VanZant attempting a takedown, but Herrig stays up. VanZant with the throw a second time and this time it works out for her. Again VanZant is immediately offensive with ground and pound strikes to the head.
Herrig trying to work for a submission from her back, but she’s eating a good amount of shots here. At times Herrig almost looks like getting her opponent’s back, but VanZant manages by the skin of her teeth to prevent it. Finally Herrig does get to the back, but credit to VanZant who quickly spins back on top.
VanZant turning up the heat now with big ground and pound. Great cardio from VanZant who’s staying very busy in this final five minutes.
Final minute and VanZant is overwhelming Herrig at this stage. A series of right hands from VanZant with plenty of mustard on them. Herrig tries to get up, but she’s pushed back down and she’s really wearing the damage from this sustained assault.
VanZant is clearly still a work in progress, but she’s making up for the holes in her game with athleticism, raw potential and enthusiasm which in this case proved to be more than enough to earn a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-26 x2) over the more experienced Herrig.