ST. LOUIS – Jessica Eye resorted to her grappling to earn her first victory since November 2014 at UFC Fight Night 124.
After getting stunned by a Kalindra Faria (18-7-1 MMA, 0-2 UFC) head kick in the first round of their strawweight bout on Sunday, Eye (12-6 MMA, 2-5 UFC) opted to implement a grappling-heavy strategy for the remainder of the bout. It paid off, and she won a narrow split decision to snap a forgettable four-fight losing skid.
It had been an emotional run for Eye since she last got her hand raised. She’s dealt with personal tragedy, injuries, fight cancellations and more, but said she’s always done her best to keep her spirits as high as possible.
The hard times came to an end in her FS1-televised bout against Faria at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, though, and as relieving as it is to finally be victorious again, “Evil” said returning to her comfort zone in the 125-pound division was as important as anything.
“I don’t even know if it’s necessary just back in the win column, but back at flyweight,” Eye told MMAjunkie. “It’s been a long time. I put on some weight I probably didn’t need. Now I’m lower weight and everything just felt a little bit different. I don’t feel like there was ring rust, but just the jitters of being in there was a little bit different. It’s been probably 16, 17 months since I was in there, and at flyweight. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed with feeling right now. I don’t know if I want to cry, be happy … I keep biting through my damn lip.”
It wasn’t all easygoing for Eye in the bout. She appeared to be in serious danger courtesy of Faria’s head kick, but managed to regain her wits and get back in the fight. Eye said a hard hit if often needed to “light the fire,” and once her’s was on, she attacked her opponent in an area she knew she could win.
“I knew she had gotten a couple hits in there,” Eye said. “But, let’s face it: There’s more than just striking that wins fights. I felt like that was the time I had to do some submission attempts, I needed to use my wrestling. I worked so much on my wrestling over the past year-and-a-half.”
After spending her entire UFC career in the bantamweight division, Eye was one of the fighters on the roster pleading for a flyweight class. It took some time, but finally the UFC introduced the division in late 2017. Now Eye feels she can perform at her best, and although she doesn’t regard her performance against Faria as that, she hopes it will come out in her next fight.
“We’ll see what happens,” Eye said. “There was the back-and-forth with the Paige thing. I just want to see what’s next for myself. The flyweight division is still developing. I think we’re going to see more girls settle into this division, and I can’t wait. We’ll just see.”
Jessica Eye held on for dear life after early trouble and used her grappling to snap a long losing streak.
Eye (12-6 MMA, 2-5 UFC) was nearly knocked out by a head kick in her first round against Kalindra Faria (18-7-1 MMA, 0-2 UFC), but reasserted control on the mat and picked up a split decision.
The women’s flyweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 124 event at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. It streamed on UFC Fight Pass ahead of the rest of the card on FS1.
The final scores were 29-28 twice for Eye with one judge dissenting for Faria with the same score. Eye screamed in triumph and hopped the cage before calming down for her post-fight interview.
If Eye was excited, she had good reason to be. Not since 2014 had she won a fight in the UFC’s octagon. Four straight losses – all at bantamweight, 10 pounds above her longtime flyweight class – and canceled bouts against Aspen Ladd and Paige VanZant sapped her momentum.
Going into the fight, Eye likely needed a win to stay in the UFC. And her chance almost evaporated in the early portion of the fight.
A head kick from Faria landed flush to Eye’s head, sending her backward on wobbly legs. Somehow, though, Eye managed to grab a body lock and get a takedown. She quickly went to work on the mat, repeatedly cranking on Faria’s ankle. Faria responded in kind, turning the rest of the opening frame into a scrap in the 50-50 position.
Eye put the fight down early in the second round and extended her lead by taking back control and threatening a choke. Unable to escape, Faria ceded the round while on the defensive.
Both Eye and Faria came out amped for the third round. And while the Brazilian Faria appeared to get the better of Eye on the feet, snapping a side kick to the face and several hard punches, Eye earned two takedowns and controlled the action on top.
The judges who scored the fight for Eye clearly valued her ground work. However they came to the decision, “Evil” Eye will take it.
Faria, a former Titan FC champ, remains winless in the UFC after two tries.
“I feel on top of the world,” Eye said. “It’s been five years since I’ve been able to fight at 125, so to be back at my weight class and get the win, nothing can compare. I was a little shaky walking out. I had a lot of nerves built up for this moment. It all felt very natural though. I won that fight with grit, takedowns and striking, and that’s what being a fighter is all about. It feels unbelievable. I’m not going to say what’s next just yet, but you will see very soon.”
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 124 results include:
The UFC’s new women’s flyweight division will be on display when the company debuts in St. Louis in January.
Jessica Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) will take on Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a 125-pound bout at UFC Fight Night 124. Promotion officials recently announced the new booking.
UFC Fight Night 124 takes place Jan. 14 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The card will air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
The 31-year-old Eye, a training partner of UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, is in desperate need of a win. Today marks the three-year anniversary since her lone official win under the UFC banner, a second-round TKO of Leslie Smith. Since then, she’s had four straight decision losses.
Eye actually debuted in the promotion at UFC 166 with a split-decision win over Sarah Kaufman. But that fight later was overturned to a no-contest after Eye tested positive for marijuana metabolites.
Brazil’s Faria debuted with the promotion in October at UFC 216, but suffered a submission loss to Mara Romero Borella. That setback snapped a three-fight winning streak that included a win 13 months prior under the Titan FC banner.
Prior to coming to the UFC, Faria’s resume featured losses to some highly recognizable names in women’s MMA: Carina Damm, Claudia Gadelha, Vanessa Porto, Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
With the addition, the UFC Fight Night 124 card includes:
Prior to the championship bouts, Walt Harris (10-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) were put away by there respective opponents in less than three minutes each.
After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 216’s losing fighters.
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Should fight: “The Ultimate Fighter 26” cast member Why they should fight: Faria’s UFC debut came under less than ideal circumstances. After being booked or short notice then having her opponent switched on even shorter notice, the Brazilian fell short against Mara Romero Borella with a first-round submission loss.
Faria is one of the most established veterans of the women’s flyweight division, and although the UFC debut didn’t go her way, she’s still a promising member of the organization’s newest weight class.
The Brazilian would have liked her octagon career to begin under better circumstances, but Faria will certainly get another chance to prove herself. The infancy of the 125-pound division makes it difficult to judge who her next fight should be, but a matchup with someone who does well on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will crown the division’s inaugural champion, would be fitting.
Should fight: Mark Godbeer Why they should fight: Opportunity knocked and Harris answered, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to charge through the door. After Derrick Lewis fell off the card just before it was scheduled to begin, Harris stepped in to take on a huge task in Fabricio Werdum. To the surprise of almost no one, it didn’t go his way.
Harris had never fought anyone close to Werdum’s caliber, and it showed. He was quickly taken down and submitted within 65 seconds. Instead of getting down on a high-profile loss, though, “The Big Ticket” took it all as a learning experience to get better.
Before the last-minute scramble Harris was booked to fight Godbeer (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) on the card. It would be fair to both sides to put that matchup back together considering both men put in an entire training camp for each other but never got to put it to use.
Should fight: Brandon Moreno Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Borg should fight Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) next.
Should fight: Al Iaquinta Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should rematch Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) next.
Both Ferguson and Johnson landed a prominent place in the UFC record books with their crafty finishes, but they weren’t the only UFC 216 fighters with noteworthy results. For more on the numbers to come out of the event, check below for 60 post-event facts from UFC 216.
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UFC 216 joined UFC 22 in September 2001 as the only events in UFC history with two draws.
Betting favorites went 6-3 on the card. Two fights ended in a draw.
Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 2:12:54.
Ferguson improved to 16-1 in his past 17 fights. The lone defeat in that stretch came to Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 3 in May 2012.
Ferguson’s 13-1 record after 14 UFC appearances is the best of any fighter to come from “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.
Ferguson’s 10-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is the longest in active streak in the division.
Ferguson’s 10-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is the longest in divisional history.
Ferguson’s 10-fight winning streak in UFC competition is the fourth longest active streak in the company behind D. Johnson (13), Georges St-Pierre (12) and Max Holloway (11).
Ferguson has earned 19 of his 23 career victories by stoppage. That includes nine of his 13 UFC wins.
Ferguson became the second fight in UFC history to win a title fight by triangle choke. Anderson Silva also accomplished the feat against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117.
Lee suffered the first submission loss of his career.
Lee has completed at least one takedown against 11 of his 12 UFC opponents.
Lee’s 28 takedowns since 2014 in UFC lightweight competition are most in the division.
Johnson’s 11 consecutive UFC title defenses are most among current titleholders.
Johnson’s 11 consecutive title defenses are the most in UFC history.
Johnson’s 12 victories in UFC title fights are tied with St-Pierre for most in company history.
Johnson’s seven stoppage victories in UFC title fights are third most in company history behind Silva (nine) and Matt Hughes (eight).
Johnson’s 13-fight UFC winning streak in flyweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.
Johnson’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is the longest active streak in the company.
Johnson’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is tied with Jon Jones for the second longest streak in company history behind Silva (16).
Johnson’s 13 victories in UFC flyweight competition are the most in divisional history.
Johnson’s seven stoppage victories in UFC flyweight competition are the most in divisional history.
Johnson’s five submission victories in UFC flyweight competition are the most in divisional history.
Johnson’s three fifth-round stoppage victories are most in UFC history.
Johnson’s 57 takedowns landed in UFC flyweight competition are most in divisional history.
Johnson’s 73 takedowns landed overall in UFC competition are third most in company history behind St-Pierre (87) and Gleison Tibau (84).
Johnson has been awarded eight fight-night bonuses for UFC flyweight bouts, the most in divisional history.
Borg suffered the first stoppage loss of his career.
Borg’s 22 total strikes landed are the fifth fewest in a UFC title fight to reach the fifth round.
Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) improved to 8-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2012.
Werdum has earned seven of his 10 UFC victories by stoppage.
Werdum’s 65-second victory was the fastest of his career.
Werdum’s five submission victories in UFC/Strikeforce heavyweight competition are tied for second most in combined divisional history behind Frank Mir (eight).
Walt Harris (10-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) fell to 3-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in April 2016.
Harris suffered the first submission loss of his career.
Mara Romero Borella
Mara Romero Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC extended her unbeaten streak to seven fights. She hasn’t suffered a defeat since October 2015.
Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has suffered four of her six career losses by stoppage.
Faria suffered her first submission loss since March 31, 2011 – a span of 2,384 days (more than six years) and 17 fights.
Evan Dunham’s (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) five-fight UFC unbeaten streak in lightweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Ferguson (10) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (seven).
Cody Stamann (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned both of his UFC victories by decision.
Tom Duquesnoy (15-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his 12-fight unbeaten streak snapped for his first defeat since February 2013.
Duquesnoy suffered the first decision loss of his career.
Green (23-8-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) extended the longest winless skid of his career to four fights. He hasn’t earned a victory since July 2014.
Poliana Botelho (6-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned the first decision victory of her career.
Pearl Gonzalez (6-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) has suffered two of her three career losses by decision.
Matt Schnell (10-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) earned his first decision victory since his MMA debut on Sept. 14, 2012 – a span of 1,850 days (more than five years) and 13 fights.
Marco Beltran (8-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) fell to 0-2 since he dropped to the UFC flyweight division in June 2017.
Beltran suffered the first decision loss of his career.
Moraga’s (18-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) seven victories in UFC flyweight competition are third most in divisional history behind D. Johnson (13) and Joseph Benavidez (10).
Moraga has earned five of his seven UFC victories by stoppage.
Moraga’s five stoppage victories in UFC flyweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Johnson (seven).
Magomed Bibulatov (14-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his 14-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.
Brad Tavares (16-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) has earned his past nine UFC victories by decision. His most recent stoppage win was a first-round knockout of Phil Baroni at UFC 125 in January 2011.
Thales Leites (27-8 MMA, 12-7 UFC) fell to 7-4 since he returned to the UFC in August 2013.
Leites fell to 2-4 in his past six UFC appearances.
Leites has suffered seven of his eight career losses by decision.
Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) took Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) down quickly into their fight, then took full mount. By the time she had Faria’s back, it was just a matter of time before Borella finished with a rear-naked choke. Faria’s tap came at the 2:54 mark of the first round.
The women’s strawweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC 216 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.
Borella tied Faria up quickly when the two met in the middle and landed a fairly easy takedown near the fence. She went to work from half-guard and was in position for an arm-triangle choke. And very quickly, the Italian passed to full mount. She pulled Faria away from the fence to keep Faria from being able to wall-walk back to her feet.
Faria tried to hip escape, but Borella controlled Faria’s left arm. Faria tried to get out, but Borella took her back and locked up a body triangle. She locked up a rear-naked choke and it was only a matter of time before Faria had to tap.
Borella won for the sixth straight time on the heels of a three-fight skid she suffered in 2015. Faria had a three-fight winning streak snapped and loss for the first time since back-to-back setbacks to current UFC fighters Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz in WSOF and KSW.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 216 results include:
Mara Romero Borella def. Kalindra Faria via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:54
A rule in the UFC’s anti-doping policy cost Andrea Lee her spot on UFC 216. Should the same have applied to her opponent, and the replacement who took her spot?
Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a first-time UFC fighter, was removed when it was discovered she had a previous anti-doping violation, which required her to enter the USADA drug testing pool for six months prior to fighting in the octagon.
Kalindra Faria (18-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Lee’s scheduled opponent, had no previous anti-doping violations. But as a UFC newcomer, it appeared she was subject to a rule requiring new fighters to be in the testing pool for one month. The same followed for Mara Romero Borella, the opponent who eventually replaced Lee. Yet both Faria and Boreal were exempted from the rule.
MMAjunkie reached out to UFC anti-doping partner USADA to clarify the situation. USADA deferred questions to UFC VP of Athlete Relations Jeff Novitzky, who said the UFC considers the new bout an injury replacement, despite the fact neither replaced an injured fighter.
“As Paige (VanZant) was injured, this fight really replaces the Paige vs. Jessica Eye fight,” Novitzky said. “So it fits under that criteria.”
Rule 5.7.6 of the UFC’s anti-doping policy indicates the exemption applies to the circumstance in which a fighter steps in for an injured fighter. An exemption is permitted “automatically” when a fighter “is named to a fight card as a replacement for an athlete who was withdrawn from the Fight Card due to loss of eligibility, injury or other event not reasonably foreseeable to UFC.”
But Novitzky said the rule is applied more broadly in cases in which an injury to one fighter causes an entire bout to be scrapped from the event, and a new bout is booked to replace it. As MMAjunkie previously reported, VanZant (7-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) withdrew from UFC 216 with a back injury. Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) declined to face Lee on short notice, opening up a spot on Saturday’s pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Novitzky said the UFC and USADA work together when short-notice replacements arise, with the promotion clearing details with the anti-doping agency “to make sure they have a comfort level that the circumstances fall under any given section in the policy.”
However, he added, the ultimate authority in whether an exemption is granted lies with USADA.
“We worked with USADA to put the rules together, but they are sole authority on enforcing the rules of the policy,” Novitzky said.
With injuries and last-minute withdrawals a constant in the UFC’s business, the exemption is part of a balancing act for the promotion. One one side, its goal is to have the most comprehensive anti-doping program in sports. On the other, it needs flexibility when it needs to fill fight cards.
The issue was brought into focus this past December when Angela Hill, a strawweight UFC veteran fighting for the all-female Invicta FC, was called up on short notice only to be scratched because of a four-month window required of returning athletes. Several UFC vets then complained the anti-doping program effectively shut them out, as short-notice fights are often the only chance for a return. The UFC eventually waived Hill’s testing window, arguing it was manifestly unfair to apply it.
The exemption has been a source of controversy, however. The promotion was embarrassed after it granted one to returning ex-champ Brock Lesnar, only to see him fail a drug test that was collected prior to a winning fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200, but not reported until after the event.
In February, when the UFC and USADA revised the anti-doping policy, the one-month injury exemption was added, while the window for athletes returning from retirement was extended to six months. For the former, Novitzky said the intention of the rule was to provide a more level playing field to athletes who’d previously competed for the UFC without any anti-doping incidents and were released by the promotion for competitive reasons.
“We saw that that wasn’t really fair,” Novitzky said. “So we changed that scenario and added the scenario we’re talking about here.”
Novitzky admits the one-month exemption also exposes the promotion to more possible anti-doping issues. Without prior testing, it is relying on the assurances of fighters and managers who have little vested interest in telling the truth about drug use. But he points to “checks and balances” put in place as a deterrent.
One check, he said, is a comprehensive review process prior to a fight booking that checks fighters’ medical, legal and anti-doping history. In the case of Lee, he said, that process was underway when the media erroneously reported the fight was booked.
“The medical team will vet a fighter to make sure they’re medically cleared, and our legal team looks at immigration and code of conduct and criminal history, and my team as well,” he said.
Another is a new rule recently adopted by the Association of Boxing Commissions to include USADA suspensions in an administrative database followed by all major athletic commissions.
“The commissions can choose what they want to do with that, but the reality is most reputable commissions are going to see those USADA suspensions and adhere to it,” he said. “And that’s good, because say in these last-minute injury replacements or other unforeseen reasons a fighter gets in there, knows they were doing something and says, ‘Hey, I want to fight anyway, this is my foot in the door.’ What’s more than likely going to happen is that fighter is tested fight night, comes back positive – now, not only are they going to be prevented from fighting in the UFC for an extended period of time, if not forever, but the odds of them returning to the regional or local show because of that suspension on the database are just diminished, as well. So it’s virtually career suicide.”
When a new UFC fighter is being considered as a short-notice replacement, Novitzky said UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard emphasize the consequences if the fighter is not clean.
“We’ve actually seen an uptick in recent instances where managers will tell Mick or Sean, ‘Ah, you know what, I think my guy’s good. He’s not interested,’” Novitzky said. “That’s a great thing. First and foremost, this program is in place to protect the UFC athletes and make our promotion healthier and safer.
“We’re starting to see that, that the trickle-down of information as far as what our program means to these local, regional fighters. Combined that with some of the advances in testing – we’re now seeing tests, and Jon Jones’ case being a perfect example, where chlorinated steroids, there’s now tests for metabolites that go out four to six months.
“I think what this means is that information is passing down to the aspiring UFC fighter that sees: ‘Hey, usually my foot in the door is that last-minute replacement. I never know when that call is coming, and if I’m doing anything within four to six months of that call coming, I’m screwed. I’m not going to be able to fight, and if I do, it’s one and done.’ I think really positive development.”
Of course, as with any program, it’s not perfect. The UFC has signed first-time fighters on short-notice, only to see them subsequently fail drug tests. Novitzky, though, defends the current policy as an effective compromise in regulatory oversight.
“The comprehensiveness and strength of the program is important, but it’s just as important to have fairness and due process,” Novitzky said. “I think a lot of these aspiring UFC fighters, their ability to have that foot in the door comes from these last-minute replacements. So to put something in place where we wouldn’t have the ability to do that wouldn’t be fair to them.
“Now, on the other side, there are those checks and balances. We don’t want want to put fighters in that are dirty. And so we have those checks and balances. But it’s clearly a balancing act.”
In the main event, Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) fight for an interim lightweight title and the chance to potentially move on to a title unification bout against Conor McGregor. Ferguson is about a 2-1 favorite, and he’s the pick of seven of our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.
In the co-feature, dominant flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) takes on challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a fight delayed from UFC 215. Johnson is a 12-1 favorite, and to little surprise he’s the lone unanimous pick on this week’s card.
Also on the main card, Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) takes on former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC). And even though Lewis is a 2-1 favorite, the fight is split down the middle at 5-5 with our pickers. Mara Romero Borella (11-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Kalindra Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) are a pair of promotional newcomers fighting at strawweight. Faria is a 2-1 favorite, and only one of our 10 pickers has the courage to go against her with the underdog.
And to open the main card, Beneil Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) meets Evan Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) at lightweight. It’s a runaway for Dariush, who is an 8-2 pick over Dunham.
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Collegiate wrestler (division 2)
+ 1 KO victories
+ 8 submission wins
+ 5 first-round finishes
+ Improved footwork and movement
+ Works well when coming forward
^ Hard kicks and solid punches
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Effectively chains from body-lock
+ Excellent offensive and reactive shots
^ Has taken down 10 /11 UFC opponents
+ Intelligent transitional grappler
^ Positionally aware / fights hands
+ Dangerous back-taker
^ Heavy hips and crushing chokes
Serving as the main event for UFC 216 is a showdown between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title.
Arguably the division’s No. 1 contender, Ferguson will finally get his shot at a belt after multiple failed attempts to sort things out with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Standing in Ferguson’s way is Lee, one of the brighter standouts the weight class has to offer. Despite not yet reaching his prime, Lee feels he is right on track with destiny by fighting for a title at just 25.
Starting off on the feet, we have a battle between two strikers who are different in style, but do their best work coming forward.
Walking the line between forward-mover and voracious marauder, Ferguson can seldom be found taking a back step in his fights. Whether he is feinting or throwing, Ferguson consistently puts pressure on his opponents, looking to either slice-and-dice his was inside, or half-step his way into kill shots off of his accurate jab.
However, it is in these instances of advancement where Ferguson is most hittable, and or susceptible to being countered.
Despite not being known for his counter-striking game, Lee has quietly made improvements to his footwork, displaying an understanding of defensive and offensive angles, as his time spent working with Dewey Cooper and Mayweather’s gym is certainly showing.
With improved head movement typically accompanying upgraded footwork, Lee has also demonstrated much more discipline in rolling his head offline with his punches.
Still, the developing talent may not want to test his striking skills too much in this matchup. Even though Lee was able to stun Francisco Trinaldo standing (which is no easy feat), Ferguson has shown an uncanny ability to absorb punishment and haunt his opposition, living up to the moniker of “El Cucuy.”
Ridiculous durability aside, Ferguson does a deceptively good job of rolling with punches and coming back with heat of his own. Albeit a risky proposition, it is one that Ferguson gets positive returns on due to his persistence to stay poised and play the long game.
Regardless of how striking stanzas shakeout, I suspect that the grappling exchanges may be what decides this fight’s fate.
Inside the clinch, Ferguson is the fighter who offers more offense via his strikes and submission setups, but I believe that Lee may be the better wrestler in this space.
From his superb technique to his natural gifts of athleticism and reach, Lee has a knack for finding the hips of his opponents. Working particularly well from the body-lock, Lee does a good job of chaining off his takedown approaches.
That said, Lee will be facing a unique counter-wrestler who can also counter with submissions.
An enthusiast of the granby roll, Ferguson can counter the deepest of takedown attempts, as we have seen him hit these rolls in mid-air. For that reason, it will be interesting to watch how Lee’s takedown transitions playout with Ferguson’s creation of chaos in mind.
Typically rolling for a variety of leg-locks and entanglements, Ferguson has shown the ability to chain from position-to-position, even when hurt and under fire. Nevertheless, Ferguson could still find himself in the proverbial frying pan should he elect to look for submissions from here, especially considering that failed leg-locks often lead to back-takes – a specialty of Lee’s.
A phenomenal wrestler who seemingly embraced the submission arts early, Lee displays a preternatural ability to take the back. Fueled by slick transitions and heavy-hips, Lee arguably crushes as much as he attempts chokes, dominantly closing off airways in a way that reminds me of a vintage B.J. Penn.
If Ferguson loses his respect or sense for the position, he could find himself steadily going to sleep should he allow Lee onto his back.
Though that could be a real possibility for Lee, the problem – in my opinion – lies within the process that he will need to go through to get Ferguson to where he wants.
Whether Lee is shooting in for a double-leg or changing his level inside of clinch space, his head will inherently have to travel through a neighborhood Ferguson refers to as “snap-down city.”
With a “snap-down” being a wrestling term that refers to the pulling down of an opponent’s head to break their posture, Ferguson has seemingly made his money from this position, using it to transition to back-takes and chokes alike. Should Lee fail on his shots, we will likely see his submission defenses tested.
Under the tutelage of Robert Follis, I am sure that Lee’s defensive prep is on point as the two have proven to be an excellent pairing of coach and fighter. Still, we have seen Ferguson show the ability to hit both strikes and submissions that his opposition arguably knew was coming.
Not only does Ferguson seem to have the unshakeable confidence to help this effort, but he also has a style that I like to refer to as “presenting.”
Similar to the process of a good magician, the true magic happens when you can successfully stage an environment for your trick to work. This principle also exists in the poker arena, as the poker room is often won by the best presenters –– not necessarily the best poker players.
Whether he is presenting a false target or setting a high pace, Ferguson ultimately fights with a bigger purpose in mind. As we saw in his victory over Lando Vanatta, Ferguson used these principles to put himself in a position to finish a submission that Vanatta knew was coming.
Initially presenting the threat of a guillotine choke, Ferguson forced Vanatta to fight hands and defend, knowing it would inherently create enough space between the lats and triceps for his arm to slide through for his patented D’Arce choke.
The oddsmakers seem to agree with the potency of Ferguson’s pathways – opening him up as a moderate favorite over Lee.
As someone who has trained at Xtreme Couture for some time, matchups like these feel like a lose-lose scenario in regards to making a pick. With that in mind, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t rooting for Lee here.
However, as an analyst, I have to be unbiased. If Lee cannot successfully score takedowns and capitalize early, then I worry for his chances given that Ferguson is built to get stronger as the fight goes on. Despite forecasting championship gold in Lee’s future, the dynamic of this matchup makes it hard not to favor Ferguson, who I see posing problems if he achieves his preferred cooking temperature.
Former Invicta FC flyweight champ and current UFC fighter Andrea Lee has entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool, though she’d rather her addition have been less dramatic.
The good news, she told MMAjunkie, is that she can get the whole thing behind her more quickly.
“If this short-notice opportunity hadn’t happened now, and I got the call next year, the same thing probably would’ve happened,” Lee said. “I’d still be in the boat.”
Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was scratched from her scheduled debut at UFC 216 against Kalindra Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) when UFC anti-doping partner USADA ruled her out based on a previous suspension for diuretics. Faria will now faceMara Romero Borella(11-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the pay-per-view main card, which takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Per the UFC’s anti-doping policy, fighters with previous anti-doping violations are required to be available for random testing six months prior to fighting, or two months longer than fighters newly signed to the promotion.
With the clock now running on her period of ineligibility, Lee can fight in April 2018.
“I’ve already started my enrollment papers (with USADA), so they should be coming to test me any day now,” she said.
When she got an offer to fight Faria at UFC 216, the result of an impressive performance at LFA 23 on Sept. 22, Lee said she and her head coach/husband Donny Aaron were more worried about getting in the proper paperwork for the event – medicals, Reebok sizes, and her walkout music.
As far as she knew, she had resolved her case with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which agreed to a nine-month suspension that ran its course this past December. The commission found a pair of diuretics – canrenone and spironolactone – following her submission loss to Sarah D’Alelio at Invicta FC 16 in March 2016.
But as it turned out, there is one more hurdle to pass before Lee officially becomes a UFC fighter.
In the wake of her removal, she’s made it a priority to fill out every requirement of the UFC’s anti-doping program, which includes watching a 25-minute video about anti-doping, taking a quiz, watching four additional videos, and then acclimating to the whereabouts forms that allow the agency to keep track of fighters at all times.
For Lee, it’s a dizzying amount of paperwork to fight in the big show.
“It kind of sucks,” she said. “I have to give them all my information. There was one part where they were talking about an app that’s more like a tracking device, and I was like, ‘I don’t know about that.’”
But if it’s what she needs to go, Lee will happily comply. She feels there are a lot of misconceptions about her positive test and would like to clear the air.
Although she acknowledges the fact that many will never believe any explanation, she said fans have the wrong idea about her. While she admits she took a “fluid pill” to assist her weight cut, she insists she did not take it to cheat.
“Just understand that when I was suspended and tested positive for a substance, the substance was a fluid pill,” Lee said. “It was the use of a diuretic. I was not under the influence of anything else. I’ve never done steroids.
“I’m honestly a clean fighter. I give all my credit to my nutrition and NutraBio, a supplement company, eating well and training hard. But a lot of people are confused. They automatically assume that I was tested and positive and cheating. I wasn’t cheating. That’s not what I was using the fluid pill for. It was for cutting weight, because I was bloated, and I was retaining water, and I was worried that I was going to struggle, and I thought, ‘Why not just use the fluid pill to help me pee?’ That’s one thing I want to clear the air about.”
Lee said she’ll come back stronger from the situation, adding that fans should expect to see an exciting debut in April. Hopefully, the only dramatic thing will be her performance.
“I guess more explaining for an athlete that’s ever been suspended for anything,” Lee said when asked how situations like hers could be avoided in the future. “I don’t know. It’s all new to me. To them, it’s our fault – we should know and everything. I don’t know.
“I’m content with it now. It’s taken me a few days to come down after everything and accept that I’m just going to have to wait. Which is fine – I wasn’t expecting to get a call to fight in the UFC until the very end of this year. So six months isn’t a big deal.”