Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas
Of the TUF 20 competitors Namajunas has emerged as the fighter with the most potential to become a star. Despite only being 22 she’s already developed a dangerous set of skills – fluid yet aggressive on the feet with kicks and punches, while also demonstrating a technical BJJ game on the mat, constantly seeking a finish one way or another. If you’re looking for a comparison, this event’s co-main event star Charles Oliveira has similar attributes.
On the other hand Esparza doesn’t have that natural flair and showmanship, but is far more experienced and was Invicta FC’s reigning champ before switching to the UFC. Most importantly though she is also a talented wrestler who’s willing to embrace the grind and that’s taken her a long way.
Namajunas is so crafty she absolutely has a chance to win here whether by a head kick finding it’s mark or a swift submission, but more likely is that Esparza is able to use her wrestling to stifle and frustrate her to rack up points on the scorecards and walk away as the new 115lb champ.
Carla Esparza to win by decision.
Charles Oliveira vs. Jeremy Stephens
Finishing fights appears to be embedded in Oliveira’s DNA and he pursues that goal at all costs with strikes and submissions, sometimes to his detriment. Technically he’s on point, but his enthusiasm can get the better of him and leave openings for others to exploit.
In the striking realm that could prove costly against Stephens who’s got heavy hands and will be only too happy to greet an exposed chin with a fight-ending uppercut. He’s also a decent wrestler, though spending too much time on the mat with a submission hunter like ‘Do Bronx’ might not be the best idea.
Overall it’s a fight that could go either way, but while I’ve been burned a couple of times in the past picking him, I still feel Oliveira is the better fighter overall and can find a submission finish here.
Charles Oliveira to win by submission in Rd2.
Daron Cruickshank vs. K.J. Noons
This should be a fun battle between two men who like to trade on the feet. Cruickshank is undoubtedly the more versatile and creative striker here with his kicks in particular arriving from all angles at a moment’s notice.
Noons on the other hand relies more on his boxing background, offering a more predictable offensive output with decent power and a solid chin.
I can see Noons having some difficulty finding his range here as Cruickshank keeps him at bay with kicks, and that, together with ‘The Detroit Superstar’s’ more eye-catching work in general will be enough to earn him a decision win.
Daron Cruickshank to win by decision.
Yancy Medeiros vs. Joe Proctor
Proctor is a solid rather than spectacular and while he could attempt to mix it up on the feet with Medeiros, he’d be better off attempting to grapple with him instead.
However, I’d favor Medeiros to keep the fight standing where he’ll enjoy a four inch reach advantage and can work well from range with a high-output style, while also being effective from the clinch.
I can see it being a competitive scrap for a while, but Medeiros is more dynamic and I think he’ll make his impression felt in the striking exchanges and earn a stoppage victory.
Yancy Medeiros to win by TKO in Rd2.
Randa Markos vs. Jessica Penne
TUF 20’s defeated semi-finalists go head-to-head in the main card opener here and it should be a competitive match-up.
Markos has much less experience than here opponent, particularly against upper level talent, but proved herself to be very capable in the TUF house with wrestling being the foundation of her game.
Penne’s been around for longer and that’s demonstrated by her more refined, well-rounded skill-set, with submissions being her most dangerous weapon, though I believe she’ll have the edge on the feet too. She’s vulnerable to takedowns which gives Markos a route to victory, but I think the more experienced campaigner eventually finds a way to win here.
Jessica Penne to win by submission in Rd3.
Felice Herrig vs. Lisa Ellis
Heather Jo Clark vs. Bec Rawlings
Joanne Calderwood vs. Seo Hee Ham
Angela Magana vs. Tecia Torres
Alex Chambers vs. Aisling Daly
Angela Hill vs. Emily Kagan