At UFC 216 in Las Vegas, Nevada, fight fans were treated to action in both the women’s strawweight and flyweight divisions. On the FOX Sports Prelims, Poliana Botelho made a successful UFC debut against Pearl Gonzalez. Botelho used exceptional takedown defense and well-timed elbows en route to a unanimous decision victory over a gritty Gonzalez. Later on the main card, Mara Romero Borella showed exceptional top pressure and BJJ transitions to submit Kalindra Faria with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
So, what’s next for the women of UFC 216?
Gonzalez attacked Botelho with a lackluster gameplan and paid the price for it via unanimous decision defeat. Despite now suffering back-to-back losses in the UFC, Pearl has a lot of potential. Pearl is well-rounded and has a solid frame for the strawweight division. This was a disappointing performance for Gonzalez, but I expect her to bounce back. A fight with Chanmi Jeon makes sense– as both fighters would be chasing their first octagon victory. Another fight is appealing for Gonzalez is the winner of Amanda Bobby Cooper/Angela Magana.
Though it is not being considered the most exciting fight ever, Poliana Botelho won her long-awaited UFC debut. Botelho is an intersting addition to the strawweight division. She has a great frame for the weight class, she is powerful, has solid takedown defense and a dynamic striking game. There are a couple of unique fights to make with Botelho, who will likely look to get back in the octagon sooner rather than later. Perhaps a rematch with Viviane Pereira, the woman who handed Poliana her sole defeat? Periera is booked to face Tatiana Suarez right now, but other matches that make for interesting fights are the winner of Nina Ansaroff/Angela Hill or Juliana Lima.
It’s hard to judge Faria’s performance with the fight ending early. However, given her track record, Faria is a battle-tested vet who will likely be eager to get back in there. It is also hard to make fights for women’s flyweight fighters right now– with the UFC having not signed many free agents and the results of TUF still pending– so bear with me. Based off of TUF 26 results thus far (should the UFC elect to sign most of the cast like they did with TUF 20 strawweights), Ariel Beck is a tough boxer who would make for a fun fight with Faria. With the flyweight division still panning out, there is an open playing field for all women to make a statement. Anything is possible.
Mara Romero Borella
The first Italian UFC fighter, Borella, impressed many with her slick and smooth jiu-jitsu transitions. Borella sustained virtually no damage as she naturalized Faria’s offense completely. Again, it’s hard to pick fights for flyweights with the division still wide open– however, simply based off of TUF 26 contenders, Sijara Eubanks would make for an excellent fight. Both are elite grappling practitioners and it would be super interesting to see who ‘s BJJ and grappling skills reigns superior.
You play matchmaker– comment below or tweet @WMMARankings and let us know what matches you would make!