In the UFC’s ESPN+ debut, two fan favorite flyweights will go to war in a hotly anticpated main card bout.
Paige VanZant (7-4) returns to the Octagon following a year-long lay off due to an arm injury she sustained in her flyweight debut versus Jessica-Rose Clark last January. All healed up and hungry as ever to grace the cage, VanZant draws the extremely durable Rachael Ostovich in her first fight back.
Rachael Ostovich (4-4) has gone 1-1 in the UFC since debuting after The Ultimate Fighter 26. The Hawaii-native is an Invicta FC veteran who fights out of Jesus is Lord gym. With her name recently in headlines regarding personal issues, Ostovich has shown the heart of a champion in relentlessly pursuing her dreams amidst the chaos.
Even though PVZ hasn’t won a fight in two and a half years, she opened as a favorite at -145 only to see her odds improv to -170. Sascha Paruk of Sports Betting Dime notes that, as unfortunate as it is to say, bettors are likely fading Ostovich partly because of the domestic assault she suffered in November. She has showed tremendous strength in her recovery, and no one can question her heart for going ahead with the bout. But preparing for an MMA fight amid that kind of turmoil, both physical and mental, has to be incredibly difficult.
So, what does each fighter need to do to get her hand raised?
PAIGE VANZANT (7-4)
- Mix it up: PVZ isn’t known for that one punch knockout power– she rather overwhelms opponents with high volume and creative attacks. She should continue that here– mixing up elbows, knees, kicks, and punch combos will keep Rachael guessing as to what will come her way next.
- Constat movement: With constant movement and footwork, VanZant should look to lure her foe in. If she can get Rachael to follow her, PVZ will be able to dictate the range of the fight and frustrate Ostovich.
- Stay off your back: PVZ is active wherever the fight goes, however, in her fights with Rose Namajunas and Jessica-Rose Clark, she did take some time in getting up off her back. Rather then playing the guard game on the ground with Ostovich, VanZant should work hard to avoid ending up on bottom.
RACHAEL OSTOVICH (4-4)
- Pace herself: We know that PVZ has a near endless gas tank and can maintain a steady output without waning into the later rounds. Ostovich should look to pace herself and pick her shots early so that she also does not fade as the fight goes on.
- Cut off the Octagon: VanZant is active in the cage– she moves aroud a lot and floats in and out of range with jumping and spinning attacks. Rachael should look to close off the Octagon and limit Paige’s mobility. Rather than follow Paige’s trail, she should head off and make the Octagon feel smaller.
- Test her stregnth: This is only VanZant’s second fight at 125. A career flyweight in Rachael may find herself with a stregnth advantage. She should look to test this in the clinch and grappling exchanges, scrambling to gain dominant position.
UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ 1 or UFC Fight Night 143 takes place on January 19 at the Barcalys Ceter in Brooklyn, New York.
Who are you rooting for?