UFC Sacramento was one of those sneaky entertaining cards that flew somewhat under the radar. The event took place in Sacramento, Calif., and was headlined by a top bantamweight contender fight between Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd.
In a clash of former Invicta FC strawweight champions, Brianna Van Buren made her UFC debut versus Livinha Souza. After three rounds, “The Bull” got her hand raised to cap off an impressive debut.
Also on the prelim card, returning bantamweights went to battle as former flyweight champion Nicco Montano returned from a layoff to face the “Venezuelan Vixen” Julianna Pena. After three hard, back-and-forth rounds Pena got the judges nod.
Finally, in the main event of the night, Muay Thai expert Germaine de Randamie faced rising contender Aspen Ladd in what was likely a bantamweight title eliminator. In a somewhat controversial finish, GDR tied Ronda Rousey for the fastest knockout in women’s bantamweight history when she floored Ladd with a right hand in 16 seconds.
Now that the dust has settled, we are left wondering– what’s next for the fighters of UFC on ESPN+ 13?
LIVINHA SOUZA (13-2)
Souza ended up on the wrong end of UD in a clash between former Invicta champs, resulting in her first loss inside the UFC. Souza is still a promising talent but has been somewhat injury-prone in her Octagon run thus far. A matchup with Randa Markos, who recently dropped a decision to Claudia Gadelha, can make for a fun fight that shows which fighter is more likely to crack the top fifteen.
BRIANNA VAN BUREN (9-2)
BVB looked awesome in her short-notice Octagon debut. Buren came into MMA with a strong wrestling base but is showing drastic improvement in all areas of her game in every fight. She is an exciting prospect with a fan friendly style that the UFC should get behind. Souza is no joke for a debut, and Buren handled her with ease– sign me up for a matchup between “The Bull” and surging Chinese prospect Yan Xiaonon.
NICCO MONTANO (4-3)
After a challenging year in the sport following her TUF 26 victory, Navajo Nation’s Nicco Montano got to put it all behind her and get back into the Octagon. The resilient Montano tried her hand at 135-pounds, ten pounds north of the division she made her UFC debut in. While Montano has her sights set on a return to flyweight, she recognizes that her next few bouts will likely come at bantamweight. Now is the perfect time to book Nicco versus Sijara Eubanks. Eubanks, coming off a loss to Aspen Ladd, was scheduled to face Montano at the TUF 26 Finale show for the flyweight championship. ‘Sarj’ was forced to withdraw from the fight due to weight cut complications, and now, nearly two years later, the stars align for a matchup between the two TUF finalists.
JULIANNA PENA (9-3)
Pena fought her type of fight– ugly, grueling, and nonstop. Pena does a great job of dragging her opponents down and imposing her will. Though her win did not come easy, she finds herself right back to where she was before leaving– toward the top of the division. Pena won’t be getting a title shot just yet, though. When Ketlen Vieira is ready to return, a match with Julianna Pena should be booked to solidify a title challenger.
ASPEN LADD (8-1)
Ladd suffered the first loss of her pro-career in her first main event slot at UFC Sacramento. Fortunately, she did not suffer a lot of damage and at 24-years-old she is still one MMA’s brightest prospects. Arguably the biggest storyline coming out of UFC Sacramento is Ladd’s weight– is Aspen suitable for bantamweight? Can she make the weight safely? Hopefully, with the help of the UFC PI, Ladd’s weight cuts can become less drastic. If there is trouble making 135 in the future, why not test the waters at 145? Featherweight is an option right now (and it may not be for long), plus, the division is “wide open”. If she stays at 135, the winner of Raquel Pennington vs. Irene Aldana makes sense. If she tries 145, perhaps Megan Anderson.
GERMAINE DE RANDAMIE (9-3)
Whether you love or hate GDR, she is one of the best strikers in MMA. With a 46-0 Muay Thai record, GDR poses problems on the feet for anyone. Add in her improving TDD and you have a bonafide contender. GDR should get the title crack at 135 versus Amanda Nunes next. Don’t be surprised to see GDR take another fight though– in her post-fight press she said she would rather take another fight than to wait around for the title shot to come.
What do you think? Do you like these matchups? What matches would you like to see be made?