WMMA Fights to Keep an Eye on this Weekend: Still all About the Flyweights
The Flyweight train just keeps on rolling! Last week, the UFC wrapped up season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter and crowned their first ever 125 lb female champion in the process.
Although the UFC is the ultimate proving ground in Mixed Martial Arts, that doesn’t necessarily mean the world’s top talent is always fighting under their umbrella. This cascades to the flyweight division as Invicta FC returns this Friday and is headlined by a battle for gold between the perennial #1 and #2 in the division. Win or lose, it’s a strong possibility that they will both be brought over to the big show much sooner rather than later.
Aside from the big title fight, there’s also a bright prospect taking on her toughest challenge yet. Then to cap the weekend off, a clash between bantamweight veterans who are dropping down a weight class to meet for the second time.
Invicta FC 26 – Friday, Dec. 8
Flyweight – 125 lbs: (C)Jennifer Maia (14-4-1) vs Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (10-0)
Jennifer Maia is currently the consensus #1 flyweight in the world and is riding a five-fight winning streak with a victory in muay thai competition mixed in. This fight will be Maia’s second defense of her Invicta Flyweight Championship.
Maia first earned the title in a rematch against perennial top five flyweight, Vanessa Porto in 2016. This fight was actually for the Interim Championship since the champion at the time, Barb Honchak was sidelined with injuries. Invicta stripped Honchak later on in the year which promoted Maia to undisputed champion status. This led to Maia going on to defend her title successfully against recent UFC title-challenger, Roxanne Modafferri.
For Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, she has possibly wasted even less time than Volkan Oezdemir has on their paths to top MMA title opportunities! The undefeated 22-year-old Polish sensation, Niedzwiedz has burst onto the scene and won her last three fights impressively in less than a year’s time. Her most recent win being her biggest, when she defeated the aforementioned Porto in the main event of Invicta FC 23.
Why You Should Watch
I’ve been hyping this fight literally since it was announced… So you should know why you should watch it by now.
It’s #1 against #2. If you thought that Nicco Montaño vs. Roxanne Modaferri was interesting and compelling, then this matchup will not disappoint. Maia is such a well-rounded and balanced fighter. She’s comfortable wherever the fight goes and she fights with that champion-like fire in her eyes every time out.
Niedzwiedz is primarily a striker but has shown she isn’t afraid to go to the ground either. It will be clear what she wants to do in this one but whether or not it will be enough to handle Maia’s varied and experienced attack will be a big question. That along with how she will do if the fight goes into the championship rounds as she’s never been there before.
This fight is a lot for someone as young as Niedzwiedz but she is hungry and quite talented. Win or lose, she’s going to be fighting at the top of the division for many years to come.
Strawweight – 115 lbs: Mackenzie Dern (4-0) vs. Kaline Medeiros (8-5)
It’s no secret how hot of prospect the multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion, Mackenzie Dern is.
She’s undoubtedly the best BJJ practitioner in the strawweight division if not all WMMA. She’s just that good on the mat.
Riding four straight victories now, Dern is now starting to show off some striking skills. While not the most polished or technical of skills, her improvements and dedication are visible! Hence the term “prospect.”
It’s been over a year since we last saw Kaline “The Dark Angel” Medeiros compete and that last time out came against Angela Hill in her first career title fight. Medeiros has gone 7-2 in her last nine fights and all of her wins came rather dominantly. She will definitely provide Dern with her stiffest challenge to date.
Why You Should Watch
Whenever such a highly-touted prospect is fighting, there’s buzz no matter the opponent. But Dern also makes the weigh-ins a must-watch each time out too. She has missed weight for two of her three strawweight bouts and not by close margins. The first time by 2.8lbs and the second by a whopping 4lbs.
Finally just moving up to flyweight for her last fight, Dern still insists on giving 115 a go. We’ll see how that works out this fourth time. This could be a critical fight for her to make weight in, assuming she wants to get to the UFC soon after.
As far as the fight goes, it’s your typical striker vs. grappler. Medeiros is a seasoned striker unlike anyone else Dern has fought to this point. Any time spent on the feet will most likely favor Medeiros. Her natural size advantage should aid in her attempts to drag things to the ground but as seen in her fights so far, her takedowns are nothing spectacular and that could allow Medeiros avoid falling victim in this area. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Flyweight – 125 lbs: Vanessa Porto (18-8) vs. Milana Dudieva (11-6)
In her last seven fights, longtime top flyweight, Vanessa Porto has only lost to the best of the best in the division. Two of which including the women competing in the title fight main event and the other being the first Invicta Flyweight Champion and now UFC competitor, Barb Honchak.
If Porto can break her current two-fight losing streak with a win over Milana Dudieva, it’s safe to assume she’ll find herself in the UFC soon as well.
Dudieva, a former UFC bantamweight has since made the cut to 125 which is where we last saw her when she took on the rising contender, Mara Romero Borella. Dudieva lost via split-decision but showed that this weight class was indeed better suited for her than the previous.
Why You Should Watch
This is an incredibly important fight for both fighters’ careers. A loss for Porto would be devastating as she would most certainly drop out of most outlets’ top 10’s (mine included, heh).
A fight that initially belonged to “Jessy Jess” Jessica-Rose Clark before she got the call up to the UFC to fill in at UFC Sydney, Dudieva now finds herself in somewhat of a potential “catapult situation.” Meaning, a win for her would massively raise her stock within the division. Porto is just looking to get back in the win column.
UFC Fight Night 123 – Saturday, Dec. 9
Flyweight – 125 lbs: Alexis Davis (18-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Liz Carmouche (11-5MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Davis rode a five-fight winning streak into her first and only UFC title fight with one of those five wins being over Carmouche back in 2013.
Carmouche suffered this defeat in her third UFC bout (her first being the first ever female fight in UFC history alongside Rousey). Since then, Carmouche hasn’t been as active as she once was and has gone 2-1 with that loss being to another former UFC and Strikeforce champ, Miesha Tate.
Despite her pregnancy sidelining her for the second half of 2015 and most all of 2016, Davis has still fought more than Carmouche since, going 3-2 with the losses coming to only Rousey and Sara McMann.
Why You Should Watch
It may be fair to say that each fighter seems to be on the back end of their careers, but with both ladies dropping to flyweight, they clearly see potential in revitalizing what may seem a little lost.
Both are very interesting additions to the division as they have more than enough experience to contest with the current flyweight division, along with their size of course. Carmouche, in particular, has a nightmare skill set for a lot of the fighters at flyweight due to the fact that a majority are strikers and she is an incredibly strong wrestler who more often than not, imposes her will on her opponents.
Looking back at the first fight, Davis pretty much picked her shots and used her boxing to out-strike the wrestle-heavy, Carmouche. Though Carmouche didn’t try to wrestle much at all in that fight, likely because of Davis’ jiu-jitsu credentials. Something that fans and analysts seem to underrate a bit or forget about. But the fighters know how dangerous she can be when things go to the ground.
The rematch being at Flyweight makes this bout far more interesting than if it was at bantamweight. No one was expecting or wanting it but now there’s a new element too it that adds intrigue and will give us a look at how each will perform in this new division. Could the winner catapult into the new women’s flyweight rankings?
Top Pick: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz
Surprised? What more needs to be said? It’s the best fight that can possibly be made at flyweight right now and one that should showcase the abilities of two future UFC stars. Each fighter has a multitude of awesome matchups awaiting them in the UFC after this and it would come as a true shock for them to not get pulled up after this fight. Especially now that the division has officially been started.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and follow me on Twitter: @Dre_Kriggs