Two of the best female grapplers in mixed martial arts will tussle this Saturday night (June 15, 2013) as Canadian Alexis Davis takes on Britain's Rosi Sexton on the UFC 161 main card in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
It will be the fourth women's fight in UFC history and the first on Canadian soil as both ladies look to make a good first impression in their respective UFC debut.
Record: 13-5 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
How she got here: Davis didn't get off to the best start to her professional career, getting knocked out by Sarah Kaufman in her 2007 pro debut. She bounced back strongly with six straight wins before again getting thrown in against a top veteran in Tara LaRosa, losing via third round TKO.
Davis would trade wins and losses before finding success in Strikeforce where she beat current female UFC fighters Julie Kedzie and Amanda Nunes back-to-back to earn a rematch against Kaufman, who had gone on to become champion since they first fought.
Her fight against Kaufman was one of 2012's most violent bouts, but Davis wound up on the losing end of a decision after three incredibly hard-fought rounds. Since then, she's scored very impressive stoppage victories over veterans Hitomi Akano and Shayna Baszler while fighting under the Invicta FC banner.
She'll be fighting on her home turf in her UFC debut against Sexton.
How she gets it done: Davis is an incredibly accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist, now competing for the Cesar Gracie fight team. While she might be able to beat Sexton at her own game, why lower your odds for success?
Instead, Davis should continue to showcase the evolution in her striking. She's got a terrific chin and proved in her Sarah Kaufman fight that she can stand and trade with the best of them. Her stand-up skills have only increased in her last two fights, stoppage victories over some of the best female veterans in MMA.
Look for Davis to pressure Sexton on the feet with her boxing, but she'll also be potentially mixing it up with elbows and knees if they get to close quarters.
If the fight goes to the ground, Davis should be significantly larger than Sexton, so she'll probably try to utilize that size and strength advantage and overpower Sexton on the canvas as well. If she can attain a dominant position, she can finish anyone, as her technical submission or Shayna Baszler proved earlier this year.
Record: 13-2 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
How she got here: Sexton has been a fixture on the female MMA scene for over a decade. The veteran's big secret is that she received her PHD in Theoretical Computer Science about the same time she began competing as a professional mixed martial artist and works as an osteopath as a side job.
Sexton won her first five professional fights before getting thrown in against the extremely bigger and more powerful Gina Carano, who managed to knock her out in the waning seconds of the second round. She bounced back, making waves in BodogFight, ShowXC and Bellator, even being announced as a member of the Bellator women's 115 pound tournament.
She never got a chance to compete, however, losing via knockout to Zoila Gurgel in a showcase bout, which forced her out of the tournament before it even started. Since that loss, she's competed irregularly, but has scored three straight victories over some serious female veterans, particularly Aisling Daly and Roxanne Madaferri whilst returning to her Cage Warriors roots in the UK.
Now, she's slated to make her UFC debut in hostile territory.
How she gets it done: Sexton is a very talented grappler and submission artist. Despite competing for over 10 years, her striking is still not a strong suit, so expect her to be shooting in for takedowns early and often.
Size is going to be a big factor here as Sexton is small enough to potentially make 115 pounds, while Davis is a natural bantamweight. If Sexton wants to win, she'll likely have to rely on that wrestling ability to stile Davis' attack.
It won't be easy, but control and positioning is Sexton's best path to victory. I don't see her submitting Davis, but if she can keep her on her back and drop enough ground and pound to stay on top, she'll have a shot.
Who will come out on top at UFC 161? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!