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PIERCE: UFC Fight Night holds huge showcase for women Bantamweights

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Photo: Josh Hedges/ Zuffa LLC

UFC Fight Island 4 proved to be an exciting card with the women’s Bantamweight division on full display.

UFC Fight Night kicked off with a huge performance by Middleweight Dusko Todorovic. Dequan Townsend dealt little damage before Todorovic out-struck him 109-21 in a round-and-a-half. It was almost entirely clinch work as Todorovic applied the pressure and landed some huge combinations as a result.

This started the card off to an exciting note, which was followed up by an equally worthy scrap between Bantamweights Kyler Phillips and Cameron Else. Phillips went in as a heavy favorite, as Else was making his UFC debut after taking the fight on short notice. Although Else did show some promise in his ability to scramble, Phillips had experience and preparation that ultimately took him to the end. This was the second second-round finish in a row to kick off the card.

This was followed by the first ranked fight of the night. Much like the main event, this fight is huge for the women’s Bantamweight division. No. 1 Germaine De Randamie faced off against No. 4 Julianna Pena in the first fight of the night that broke into the third round.

What began as a fairly boring striking match turned into an intense grappling bout that had me on the edge of my seat. In the third round, both fighters came back with a vengeance. They exchanged huge combos of blows before De Randamie put Pena to sleep with a guillotine late into the third and final round. As a Muay Thai fighter at her core, this was actually De Randamie’s first submission of her professional career.

“I didn’t really come into the fight,” De Randamie said in the post-fight interview. “I came in really sloppy. I was flat. But I said if you give me your neck, I will put you to sleep.”

The co-main event between Heavyweights Yorgan De Castro and Carlos Felipe was the most tense fight of the night as fans know that the taunting and trash talk between these two doesn’t stop when the Octagon door closes. Despite being an underdog, Felipe fought with the confidence of a top dog, constantly taunting and making gestures at his opponent. He even slapped De Castro in the rear while in the clinch.

Usually, when Heavyweights go to the third round, it can get brutal to watch, and not in a good way; by this point, both fighters gas out and have nothing left in the tank, and this was no exception. It got ugly. De Castro just clinched up Felipe every few seconds even after the referee separated them.

Thankfully it was not a five round fight, because it was hard to watch in the final three minutes. Felipe ended up coming out on top with a unanimous decision in a fight that started out exciting and eventually fell into the normal Heavyweight trend of gassing out for the final minutes.

Finally, the main event rolled around. UFC legend and No. 2 contender Holly Holm returned for the second time this year against No. 6 Irene Aldana.

At 38-years-old, the glaring question is how long does Holm have left in this sport? Well, if her performance on Saturday night is anything to go by, the veteran still has a lot left in her. Holm came out firing with calculated shots and combinations. It did not take long for everyone to realize she had an undeniable edge on Aldana. Holm’s superior striking was on full display as she maintained distance while still landing a lot of shots.

It wasn’t just the standup where Holm was in control. Her ground game was nearly flawless as she had Aldana scrambling on multiple occasions. Her five takedowns paired with incredible striking put Holm in the best possible position for success.

“She’s a mover just like me,” Holm said in the post-fight interview. “Tonight, we just kind of put the game plan together. There’s some things I need to work on obviously, but I like to say I’ll learn from my wins not my losses.”

This fight went the distance with Holm coming out on top with a unanimous decision. Despite ultimately losing, Aldana showed incredible resilience and handled adversity as well as she could, especially in her first career five round fight.

With four of the top seven Bantamweight prospects all fighting on one night, this proved to be pivotal for the division. Although Amanda Nunes remains the queen of women’s MMA, there might be a fighter that rises to the occasion soon. 

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