On Saturday, at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York, the first of three thrilling women’s bouts will take place in the flyweight division on UFC Fight Pass.
Capping off the Fight Pass Prelims will be a grudge match between flyweight hopefuls Bec Rawlings (7-7) and Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3). Rawlings will be making her sophomore flyweight appearance, looking to bounce back from a close split-decision loss to Jessica Rose-Clark in her flyweight debut back in November. Evans-Smith will be dropping to the 125-pound division from the 135-pound division. Going 2-3 as a UFC bantamweight, “Rebel Girl” believes the move to flyweight will be a successful one.
Heading into the match, there is no love lost between the two. Evans-Smith and her camp claimed to be ‘unimpressed’ with Rawlings who they say gives ‘MMA a bad name.’ A few days later, “Rowdy” fired back, revealing the ‘real reason’ Evans-Smith doesn’t like her. Before the two meet in the cage at UFC 223, two members of the WMMA Rankings panel, Nick and Terence, play the role of head coach and map out what they believe will be Evans-Smith and Rawling’s keys to victory.
ASHLEE EVANS-SMITH (NICK)
- APPLY PRESSURE…Evans-Smith isn’t particularly a counter-striker and she fights best when she is the one applying the pressure. She should use her striking to get to the clinch where she can grind and wear down Rawlings against the cage. She can tap Bec’s questionable gas tank by keeping her against the fence and working hooks and knees to the body.
- WRESTLING…Ashlee’s strong suit is wrestling. She was big and strong as a bantamweight and it is clear she will be the bigger fighter at flyweight. She should take Bec down and make Rawlings carry her weight. On the ground, Evans-Smith should have the advantage in the grappling department where she can work to a position to ground and pound or submit the Aussie.
- BREAKDOWN THE BASE… Bec likes to stalk her opponents down and unload wild shots in a boxer’s stance. She tends to lead heavy on her front leg– Evans-Smith should look to exploit this with consistent leg kicks. If she chops down the leg of Rawlings she will limit her movement and stifle her combos, giving Ashlee the chance to employ her combos first.
BEC RAWLINGS (terence)
- MAKE IT UGLY…Rawlings seems to excel in fights where she can brawl wildly. She needs to be unconventional and make the fight with Evans-Smith a brawl, not a technical fight.
- STAY OFF THE MAT…While Rawlings has several submissions on her record, she’s not a ground ace, and she’s facing an accomplished grappler at Menlo College in California. If the fight goes to the mat, she will be subject to Evans-Smith’s ferocious ground and pound.
- CAPITALIZE ON MISTAKES…Evans-Smith is a tough fighter, but she’s suffered several notable losses when she was seemingly winning the fight, notably the fights with Raquel Pennington and Sarah Moras. She had beaten Pennington to a bloody pulp when she ended up being caught in a bulldog choke and rendered unconscious. Against Moras, she had “Chessecake” in trouble on the ground when she was submitted with an armbar and had her elbow dislocated. If Evans-Smith gives Rawlings an opening, she needs to jump on it with both feet.
Who will you be rooting for come Saturday? What Keys to Victory do you think each fighter should have?